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A Clear Approach for Dealing with the Stresses of Teaching Yoga

Before the article, a quick plug for an upcoming program focused on teachers that need to renew and revitalize themselves: Join me live in New York or London for my 3-Day Return To Your Center, Teacher Renewal Program. You’ll leave feeling rejuvenated, more confident in your teaching skills, and connected to your fellow teachers.


Let’s face it, you probably put more pressure on yourself as a teacher than you ever anticipated. These pressures may be the real, black-and-white stresses of making a living and supporting yourself or your family. Or, they may be the perceived, “keeping up with the Joneses” type of pressure. You know, the ones where you lose sleep because your Instagram and Facebook page is not growing as quickly as everyone else’s—or, the class before yours at the studio had twice the number of students that yours did.

These challenges are part of the inner-landscape of teaching yoga in the modern era. Very few instructors avoid these stressors entirely — I’ve been teaching for almost 20 years and some days I’m still right there with you.

Although, these pressures are normal, natural parts of making a living as a yoga instructor, it’s important to learn to manage and transcend them. Fortunately, I believe there’ s a path to staying grounded, focused, and content as an instructor. The key is to keep your teaching real, accessible, and relevant for your students.

Here’s my advice for connecting with your students and keeping your teaching honest, real, and practical:


I love having a job where I’m able to express myself. I’m mindful, though, that I can get so wrapped up expressing a teaching that—ironically—I stop paying attention to my students and become absorbed with articulating a concept or theme. Whether it’s getting lost momentarily in your playlist, sequence, technique, or philosophical agenda, all teachers face the challenge of focusing on the students that in the room.

Being aware of this challenge is the first step in transcending it. The next step is focusing your attention on your students’ body and breath. Watch your students’ eyes, arms, legs, and feet. Watch your students breathe. Trust that you don’t have to impress your students. You just have to witness them clearly.


Most teachers are fearful of sounding like a broken record. Of course, they are—who wouldn’t be? But, when you teach yoga you are teaching a subject. In order to teach a subject, you need to repeat, repeat, repeat. And, repeat. Imagine you are teaching someone a new language, or how to do math, or play an instrument. Would you be concerned about repetition then? By embracing repetition, you are embracing education.


You don’t have to be complicated or difficult to be authentic. Most of the teachings we yearn to share with our students are simple: we want to teach people how to breathe, how to listen to their body, how to be less judgmental, how to release unnecessary tension, and so on. These are our “authentic” teachings and expressing them in simple, clear ways honors our dharma.


Pressing into handstand, doing complicated arm-balances, and experimenting with deep backbends make for good social media clips. They are striking, inspiring poses that speak to our aspirations. They are also good, interesting things to include in your advanced classes—I work on these poses, I teach them, and I post them on social media platforms.

That said, we have to remember that these poses are not terribly realistic for the vast majority of students. It’s incredibly valuable to experiment with your edge and encourage your students to do so from time-to-time. But, let’s not get carried away—or become convinced that harder poses provide more benefits than simple poses. Feel free to challenge your students, but make sure that your classes are chock full of postures that your students can do with precision and care.


  1. I love this article. Thank you thank you for nailing every single point! I’m definitely saving this to re-read and remind myself over times.

  2. Thanks for this! I needed to read that today. Especially the part about repetition … and the fancy poses on social media. I hope you bring the teacher renewal program to more locations.

      1. Please include Dubai in your location Services!!
        I work at 136.1 Yoga Studio Dubai, I’m sure you’d be warmly welcomed here!

    1. Thank you Jason! Especially the part on repetition. I always feel as though I sound like a parrot. Also for stating what the vast majority of people can do and on not becoming convinced that harder poses provide more benefits than simple poses.

  3. Thank you for sharing your ideas, thoughts, profound experiences with us. I read every post and learn so much. Thank you

  4. Thank you, Jason. Beautifully said. I agree that one of our main tasks is to witness our students – to really see them with compassion. A great reminder.

  5. thank you Jason – these are all such great reminders. I so appreciate your advice about not having to impress your students – just witness them – so beautiful. I’m a New Yorker – who recently left NYC. I’m not sure I can get in for the upcoming workshops, as much as I want to, so I too hope you’ll be bringing it to other locations – like western MA! Thanks so much!

  6. Great article Jason! These are all great reminders and solid points to always come back to when we feel lost, frustrated or stuck in our practice or teaching 🙂
    I’ve been enjoying your yogaglo classes lately!

    Thank you.

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