Uninspired... feeling blah
I'll admit it... I have been feeling a bit uninspired lately, I just got over laryngitis and it's incredibly cold out. I'm feeling boring and flat as a teacher. So I started a 21-class challenge on December 1st and I'm re-committing to my personal practice.
We are very blessed as yoga instructors to do what we love and live our bliss. We get to live from our heart and share that joy with others. But what happens when we are feeling uninspired? What do we do as instructors, when we are feeling mundane or repetitive?
There are many other tricks-of-the-trade that help me to find inspiration when I need it. Hopefully a few of these can work for you!
1. Take cues from your daily life- When I am looking for a theme or topic to present in class, I often look at what lessons or gifts I am addressing in my own life. For example, if I am feeling annoyed by a fellow co-worker and all of the things that I think they should or shouldn’t do, then I can use that. I can talk about non-attachment in my class and how we can’t change anyone or anything outside of ourselves. The only thing that we have control over is our reaction to life and ourselves. I could also talk about how our perception can change everything. How everything happening in our outside world is a reflection of what is happening in our internal world. So whatever annoys me about them also annoys me about myself, they are my mirror. Maybe I need to look within to find compassion and acceptance. All of these philosophies can be applied on the very basic level to our physical asana (posture) yoga practice.
2. Read something inspirational- Read books, poems, quotes, song lyrics… really anything that is inspirational and lifts you up. You can draw inspiration from these sources or even share the words with your class. Then they can contemplate the passage and use it in their own way, for their own inspiration during the class.
3. Use your students to ground you- Let’s face it, sometimes you’ve had a rough day and you really don’t feel like teaching. On these days I remember my students. I remember that my goal as an instructor is to lift them up and support them, to the best of my ability. I want to be of service to my students and the community as a whole. This always grounds me and reminds me how lucky I truly am to be a yoga teacher. Just this simple thought and a few minutes of silence always helps to get me in the zone. Also, talking to your students before class can help to bring you into the present moment and reconnect with your community, and thus with yourself.
4. Share something personal with your class- If you feel comfortable sharing a personal story or thought with your class, this can be a great way to feel connected and present within your teaching. Not only will you feel great sharing, but chances are a student or two will probably be really touched by your honesty and vulnerability. Many times they will come up to you after class to tell you how much they relate with the story or how it helped them see things in a new way. Getting this feedback from your students is always inspirational. However, be sure that you are sharing from an authentic place and not from the ego. Just offer the thought without expectation of how they will perceive it or without expecting anything in return. It is the vulnerable and authentic spirit that makes this one work!
5. Keep a list of topics/philosophies/stories that really inspire you- I have a list on my computer of different topics. I also have a book where I write down inspirational stories and quotes. In our 200hr. Yoga Teacher Training program I have my students start a list of themes and inspiration when we discuss the Sutras by Pantanjali. When we are lacking in ideas we can use these lists. When I look at my list I am brimming with excitement and motivation before I know it.
6. Mix things up!- Feeling bored of teaching the same thing… try something new. Teach a new pose or a new variation that you’ve never tried. Or change your music. Speed up the class or slow it way down. Your students will also appreciate the energy and vitality that this brings to your teaching. And who knows, you might find a new style or flow that you really enjoy!
7. Get into class- My all time favorite way to re-awaken the passion and joy for teaching? Go take a class with a new instructor or at a studio that you have never been to. Sometimes we get in a rut and never leave our bubble. It is always refreshing to try something new and open our minds to new possibilities. Even if the class isn’t in your lineage or style it can still inspire your teaching and your life!
Last but not least, please remember that everyone goes through slumps where they are feeling uninspired, it is natural. Don’t beat yourself up for it or think that since you are a yoga instructor that you aren’t allowed to be human.
One last thing to help with that motivation, remember that the Sutras teach us to practice with continual effort (Sutras 1.13 & 1.14). Keeping consistent with your own practice, even when you are bored will help you to lose motivation less. Just keep trying, to the best of your ability.
How do you avoid burnout in the first place? Read my blog from last week, How to Avoid Burnout to find out :)