How Yoga Teachers Can Find More Free Time

When was the last time you took a day off?

For many yoga teachers, especially those for whom teaching is their main income source, it might be really difficult to answer this question.

Between studio classes, privates, workshops, and trainings, you might find yourself in a place where you are working 7 days a week. And that’s before you add in any marketing or social media you’re doing to promote yourself.

Unfortunately, 24/7 teaching is a common cause of burnout, and it’s why a lot of yoga teachers end up leaving the industry altogether. In order to avoid feeling overwhelmed and underwater, you’ve got to find a way to give yourself a break.

What that break looks like depends on you: your personal preferences, your schedule, and even your financial situation to some extent. Here are three different options for taking some much-needed time off:

Option #1: The Self-Care Day: The Self-Care Day is just what it sounds like: a day where you call out of all your classes and regular obligations to take some time for yourself. Although this is probably the easiest to swing financially and schedule-wise, it can be difficult in another way: many teachers don’t feel comfortable calling out without a “good excuse.”

Remember that taking care of yourself is more than an excuse, it’s a completely valid and justified reason for taking some time off now and then. You’ll come back refreshed, energized, and ready to offer the best of yourself to your students.

To make a Self-Care Day successful:

  • Schedule it in advance. That way you don’t spend the morning of your day off scrambling to find subs.

  • Clear your schedule 100%. Teaching just one class or one private doesn’t count as a true day off.

  • Plan something fun. If you’re on a budget, you don’t have to spend a day luxuriating at the spa (although that is definitely fun in my book). You can plan to meet a friend for lunch, go to the movies in the middle of the day, or take a walk around your favorite local park. Try to do more than pay bills and scroll through your FB feed ;)

  • Take Self-Care Days consistently. A good rule of thumb is one Self-Care Day every quarter, or 4 in a year.

Option #2: The Regular Day Off: You may find that an occasional day to yourself isn’t cutting it with a 24/7 schedule. Teachers who teach every day of the week often struggle with maintaining their own personal practice too, which can feel uncomfortable and even lead to resentment of your students.

The solution may be to work a Regular Day Off into your schedule. What this means is that there is one day a week (or more!) when you do not work. Remember regular people and how they only work Monday through Friday? Remember the weekend?

The challenge with a Regular Day Off is that it may take a little finagling with your schedule. It may even mean giving up a class or two (you may be able to pick up classes on other days over time). Although that may temporarily impact your finances, I can’t stress enough that giving yourself some breathing room will get your creative juices flowing. It will also create some space for new opportunities to come into your life.

To make a Regular Day Off successful:

  • Choose a day that makes sense with your lifestyle. If Saturday is your biggest teaching day, you may want to take a Tuesday off instead. On the other hand, if you have a partner who works Monday through Friday, it might make more sense to have one day off with them over the weekend.

  • Set boundaries and protect your time. It’s just the way the world works that as soon as your decide which day you want to take off, you’ll be tested: a sub opportunity, a potential private, or something else. You can always choose to plan a one-off event on your day off if you wish, but in general consider yourself “not available” to teach.

  • Consider the surrounding days too. Let’s say you choose Wednesday as your day off, but you teach late Tuesday night and early Thursday morning. That’s an okay choice, but there might be an option that gives you more free time. If Monday is your day off, you may get a few extra hours of downtime on Sunday evening and Tuesday morning. Look at your own calendar to make this determination.

Option #3: The Big Getaway: With this option, not only are you not teaching, you’re getting out of town altogether! I define the Big Getaway as travel or a trip that’s at least a week long, though it could be 2 weeks, 3 weeks, or even a month away from teaching and work.

While this is probably the most expensive option of the three, it also affords the highest concentration of downtime over the course of several days. Some people find it takes them a little while to unwind and truly relax, making this a great alternative. Depending on your situation, you can plan a Big Getaway one or more times per year.

To make a Big Getaway successful:

  • Give your studio lots of lead time. Communication with your studio is especially important if you’re planning a trip that is two weeks or more. Make sure you aware of any policies around how often you can call out and ask your studio to make an exception if necessary.

  • Have a heads up on your financial situation. You may be in a position where you can easily take 2-4 weeks off per month without worrying financially. Or you may need to pick up subs both before and after the trip in order to make it viable. Remember to budget in the cost of the travel itself as well!

  • Unplug while you’re away. Set up an email auto-responder and turn off notifications on your phone. Remind your studios and private students you’re heading out of town and double-check your sub coverage before you go. Then kick back and relax!

You may find that one or a combination of these options works best for you. For years, I was perfectly happy to teach 7 days a week as long as I knew I had a Big Getaway planned in the coming months. In fact, my schedule still works this way to some extent. If you’re not sure where to begin, start small: pick a date and schedule yourself a Self-Care Day.

Your body and your mind will thank you for it.