Worries and Anxieties of a Yoga Teacher of the Hybrid 'Next Normal'



You may be feeling pressured to come back to the yoga teacher job at a studio, something that can cause a lot of anxiety after a year of teaching at-home Zoom-based yoga classes.


When determining the cause of your stress, it is important to determine what you truly want from your workdays and yoga teaching career.


Let's step back and consider the following questions:


  1. What do I want my days to look like?

  2. What stresses me out?

  3. How do I define success as of today?

  4. What do I value most?


In discovering what you need, you can approach your career in a way that puts those needs into action.


I love teaching yoga.

I enjoy being around people.

I also enjoy being in the comfort of my own home.

I do not miss the commute to and from my daily yoga classes at various studios across the city.


You might feel the same, especially after a year of fewer commutes and the ability to accomplish important tasks at your own pace. There may also be pressure or anxiety associated with going back to full-time in-person teaching.


The pressure is sometimes outright and explicit. In some cases, however, the pressure is unsaid or expressed via passive aggressive statements like "I miss seeing you in person," or "I guess you didn't feel like putting on real pants today."


It's normal for yoga teachers unfamiliar with hybrid work to feel nervous when part of the group is remote and part is in-person.



| The 'new normal' was online, but the 'next normal' is hybrid. It's a learning

curve, too!



However, we also believe the value of yoga can be proved without going back to the old ways of working. Almost all times, yoga can be taught remotely, learnt, and practiced in a productive manner.



| Teachers have reported higher levels of group engagement even as

studios went remote almost overnight, without any planning or strategy in

place.



Several studies also suggest that the majority of knowledge workers want a hybrid approach to their post pandemic worklife in order to take advantage of what both the office and remote spaces have to offer. And we anticipate the same behavior will carry forward to their other personal life choices, including fitness and wellness.


So, amidst all of these changes and differing opinions, how can you deal with the anxiety and mixed emotions that come with your peers either hinting or saying outright, “It’s time to come back to the studio”?


Identifying what you feel will help you to explore possible sources and solutions. This, along with speaking with drop-in students, regular students, as well as other yoga teachers, will be essential.


In assessing the next few months and beyond, there are four key questions to answer:


  1. What do I want my days to look like?

  2. What stresses me out?

  3. How do I define success as of today?

  4. What do I value most?


We'll explain how each question can be approached. Answers to these questions will help you identify how you feel and what you need from work (both online and in-person at a studio) in the future.


What do I want my days to look like?


Before ruminating on what the future might look like, and get a firm grasp of what’s going well in your work from home life, and why. The easiest way to start, particularly if you’re feeling overwhelmed, is to think less about your big picture career goals as a yoga teacher and more about what your days look like. What’s great about your remote day? Maybe you love being able to take a break and eat lunch with your spouse, or you like going to the grocery store at 2 PM to skip the long queues. Maybe you just love never having to commute from studio to studio and rather go on a mindful drive while recording a new Instagram reel for your online community.


Then ask yourself what you cannot stand one more minute doing. When I'm on Zoom conducting a group yoga session, I never want the Amazon delivery boy to ring the doorbell. Is this con more worrisome than the pros listed above? You gotta weigh these!


Another strategy is to consider the basic structure of your workday. You might prefer a steady pace —

  1. Personal yoga practice at 6 AM

  2. Morning Meditation Class from 7 - 8 AM (for the early risers, working professionals)

  3. A Gentle Yoga Flow at 8.30 - 9.30 AM (for stay-at-home moms, after their kids are off to school)

  4. 3-hours cool down period to work on your Instagram marketing and planning/recording a new yoga series for your YT channel

  5. A Lunch Break Yoga Class from 1 - 2 PM (for the staff of a local corporate office)

  6. A Chair Yoga Class from 5.30 - 6.30 PM (for desk workers, seniors)


Then be done and offline.


After going through this exercise, you may discover, you’re someone who works better in short bursts; you like to do an energetic morning session, take some time for your own practice or cook or go grocery shopping, then around lunch have another class, get back online early in the evening and stop when your kids need you for their homework, then reflect, introspect and plan your next day’s sessions after they are in bed.


In addition, you may want to try to chunk your days so that you have “on” days where you wear makeup and are ready to look professional in a video recording of a yoga sequence, and then have some days where it’s just the Zoom screen between you and your live audience.


In this way, pacing is really important — think of it in terms of managing the interactions that tax your energy versus those that recharge you. Look at your workday in terms of making the most of your productive hours, not in terms of being logged on.


What stresses me out?


Once you’ve played detective the ideal structure of your days, you can move on to interrogate your major stressors and how they might play out working from home vs. heading back to the studio. Though these will look different for everyone, we want to talk through one we hear frequently in our conversations with yoga teachers: role confusion.


Confusing roles. Right now you probably feel your roles as a yoga teacher, mental health counselor, yoga therapist, mindfulness coach, parent, partner, and housekeeper have been unforgivably mushed together. But the truth is, if you’re working from home even some of the time, you probably will pick up more of the daily tasks required to keep a household running. Yes, you might be the one to answer the door to the UPS and manage tidying up during the day. The key is to identify what annoys you versus what’s making you anxious, and then decide whether teaching from home or at the studio can help alleviate both.


For example, if your yoga class space is also your kitchen and living room, consider what actions you could take to make it work better for you. You might have to train your brain that when you’re sitting on the mat to record a yoga practice video, it’s not the time to lay the dinner table. This is about developing a habit and it takes time. You can literally train your brain that it’s time to practice by using sensory cues, like a scented candle or certain music or lighting, or you can make a schedule and build in 10 minute “home breaks” in between online yoga sessions. It can feel really satisfying to putter around the house in the middle of the workday.


If you’re constantly anxious trying to juggle the kids’ homework while you’re on an afternoon Zoom call with private clients, ask yourself whether you could experiment structuring your day the same way you would if you were in a studio, particularly once kids are back to school. Would this lower or increase your stress?


Don’t be afraid to dig deep here — it can be challenging, but you’ll learn a lot about what’s causing your anxiety deep down.



How do I define success right now?


Once you’ve done some detective work for yourself, do the same for your subconscious.


Let’s revisit the fact that teaching yoga online has been challenging for many people because it requires clear communication, more forethought, more planning, better instruction delivery and more emotional intelligence. And before this year, many yoga teachers had never done it before, and many have still received little training from their yoga teacher training schools about how to do it well.


I also suggest taking it a step further during this confusing and anxious time. Explicitly state and agree on what near-term success looks like for you. Is it balance, or hustle and bustle?



| You're excited to reconnect with colleagues and people in hot yoga class,

and to get out of the house — but nervous that things will just go back to

the way they were before, as if this whole traumatic, transformative

experience never happened. Was the past a success, or today looks more

like it?



What do I value?


Indeed, this year has been upsetting, disruptive, and so uncertain.



| But you need to hear this: it is striking. Without squandering what we’ve

learned this year. This is a once in a generation opportunity to change how

we work.



How has the pandemic helped you realize what you want from your work and life? No matter what your pandemic experience has been, it has shaped you. You are not the same person you were before. Amelia Ransom, Director of Engagement and Diversity at Avalara said, “We’re all going back changed. We’re not going back the way that we were. And I don’t want to, and I don’t want us to.


Take the story of Jane and Jamie Doe. During the pandemic, this couple quit their demanding jobs in New York City because they needed to help their child in remote school.


“I used to be anxious 24/7. I worked non-stop driving from studio to studio, battling traffic all day, everyday." For Jane, that was a learning experience as she began to think about their values and how they aligned with their careers. Jane decided to follow their values instead of trying to fit the model of an ideal fast-city worker.


This is why it's now a good time to pause and be a tad bit selfish. Now is the time to dig deep, think, and identify feelings, before advocating and negotiating.


“A collective trauma, a collective event, a global pandemic like this demands collective resilience, not individual resilience,” Therapist Esther Perel says. “That means that you tap into the collective resources that lift all boats….That degree of interdependence is what allowed us to continue to work as well as we have. Let’s not lose it.”



Here are some questions you can ask yourself on your own as part of this larger exercise:


- What was it for you this year that was challenging in your yoga teaching career?

- What are some things that you learned about yourself this year?

- What were the ways that teaching yoga supported you the best during the challenging months this year?

- What were the strong points that you experienced with your member community -that you think we absolutely should hone in more, foster, and develop further?

- What were the ways that you took care of yourself? Can others learn from those and keep them going?



Putting it all together


Think about it: in 2020, you probably learned how to teach yoga in an entirely new way almost overnight. You may have also done this while educating your children, taking care of other people, and negotiating a terrifying global pandemic. Your loved ones might have gotten sick and you took that on too. You rock. If you can do that, you can surely figure out how to successfully manage a hybrid schedule and continue to teach yoga in the way that suits you.


If this sounds like you, remember your strength and do some prep work. Understand what you want from your work day and career in the long-term. Try to uncover the feelings and anxieties motivating the behavior of members of your studio, and what will make you feel more certain and vested in their success. Once you’ve done that, go for what you need. You deserve it.