fbpx

Yoga Hero: Teachers Podcast – Episode 33

33: Balancing Parenting and Teaching Yoga

This episode is about balancing being a parent, and being a yoga teacher.

Expect some food for thought about how you can manage and balance your unique set of circumstances, some tools and tricks and tips for balancing the demands of being a parent and a yoga teacher, and how to look after yourself in amongst all of this: how to prioritise, how to know when things are hitting the fan, and we’ll finish up some tools to ease the parent guilt.

Throughout the episode I’m using the term ‘parent’, but please substitute this with how you identify, you might be a hopeful parent, a step-parent, a grandparent, a carer, a care-giver in any and all forms. You are so included, I’m just using ‘parent’ for clarity and efficiency.

Before we jump in, can we take a moment to recognise how both roles are caring roles; giving the best of you so that others; yogis and offspring, can access the best of themselves, and it really is commendable.

Get your free ‘Switching Roles Meditations’ here:

Be mindful and present in your yoga teaching.

All you need is one minute (promise!)

    Listen to ‘Balancing Parenting and Teaching Yoga‘ right here:

    As always, we would love to know what you think of the Yoga Hero: Teachers Podcast, do leave an honest review if you can, or drop us a message @yogahero_teachers

    Listen to ‘Balancing Parenting and Teaching Yoga’ where you get your podcasts:

    Thank you, and happy listening!


    Previous Episodes of Yoga Hero: Teachers Podcast

    Episode 43: Should yoga teachers care about money?

    Episode 42: Should yoga teachers demo while teaching?

    Episode 41: Should yoga teachers use Sanskrit?

    Episode 40: The business of teaching Yoga Nidra

    Episode 39: How to develop a consistent Yoga Nidra practice (even with a busy life)

    Episode 38: A Yoga Nidra for yoga teachers

    Episode 37: Yoga Nidra: The art of sleeping to wake up

    Episode 36:: How I Became a Full-Time Yoga Teacher

    Episode 35: How to Become a Full-Time Yoga Teacher

    Episode 34: Balancing having a job and teaching yoga

    Episode 33: Balancing Parenting and Teaching Yoga

    Episode 32: How to teach yoga workshops

    Episode 31: How much to charge for your yoga classes

    Episode 30: How to create your yoga brand

    Episode 29: How to layer your asana classes with yoga philosophy

    Episode 28: What’s your WHY as a yoga teacher

    Episode 27: Setting up your own classes as a yoga teacher

    Episode 26: How would you teach yoga if you weren’t afraid?

    Episode 25: Do I need a yoga brand?

    Episode 24: Tips for new yoga teachers

    Episode 23: Define who you are as a yoga teacher

    Episode 22: Yoga adjustments: Some important considerations

    Episode 21: Tips for teaching yoga beginners

    Episode 20: The joys of being a yoga teacher

    Episode 19: Overcome imposter syndrome as a yoga teacher

    Episode 18: Create your social media calendar

    Episode 17: A complete guide to sequencing yoga classes

    Episode 16: Do you need to teach a new yoga sequence each week?

    Episode 15: Introducing yoga philosophy in to your asana classes


    Transcript – Balancing parenting and teaching yoga

    Balancing parenting and teaching yoga

    Hello and welcome to For Yoga Teachers. This podcast has been designed to help yoga teachers teach with passion, avoid burn out and earn a fair living.

    This episode is about balancing being a parent, and being a yoga teacher. Being a working parent is an ongoing balancing act, an ongoing challenge that many people deal with. Being a parent and a yoga teacher is potentially slightly different, in that the two roles; that of a parent and that of a yoga teacher, are both caring roles that involve looking after others, which can be warming, and rewarding and thoroughly enjoyable, but also, both roles CAN be a drain on our own resources, can be challenging – and – conflicting.

    Just to give you a bit of context – I am mother to two girls, one is 3 and my youngest is just one year old, so in many ways I’m a pretty new parent. I also do not, in any way, shape or form feel that I have mastered the art of balancing being a parent and teaching yoga. However, I have given it many many many hours of thought and I have tried many, many approaches, and I feel that the balance is a little more balanced, as it were, than it was say a year ago.

    I also work with many yoga teachers who are parents, quite a few of whom I’ve mentored either with the aim of increasing yoga work and decreasing other job work, or building confidence or for another reason, and the challenge of doing all that, following your heart, earning a living through yoga, and being the parent you want to be arises very often.

    This podcast episode is designed to give you some food for thought about how you can manage and balance your unique set of circumstances, some tools and tricks and tips for balancing the demands of being a parent and a yoga teacher, and how to look after yourself in amongst all of this: how to prioritise, how to know when things are hitting the fan, and we’ll finish up some tools to ease the parent guilt.

    Throughout the episode I’m using the term ‘parent’, but please substitute this with how you identify, you might be a hopeful parent, a step-parent, a grandparent, a carer, a care-giver in any and all forms. You are so included, I’m just using ‘parent’ for clarity and efficiency.

    Just a heads up, too, that next week’s episode is balancing a job and teaching yoga, so that might be useful, albeit ever so slightly repetitive for you if you have a job as well as parent and teach yoga.

    Phew!

    Before we go any further, can we take a moment to recognise how both roles are caring roles; giving the best of you so that others; yogis and offspring, can access the best of themselves, and it really is commendable. There’s another thing I’d like to say here, which I think is incredibly important, which is that most parents I know just simply want the best for their kids; you want your kids to be happy and healthy. And I believe that that’s something that you should model with your actions; rather than just speak with your words. Training as a yoga teacher was probably a dream you had, and you did it; well done you. This is just so fabulous for you, but it’s also completely fabulous for your kids; you are demonstrating to them that your happiness, your dreams are valid, and therefore, so are theirs.

    Ok let’s do this!

    Some food for thought

    You could sit and meditate on these questions, you could use them as journal prompts, you could ask yourself them out loud…

    What are you naturally good at as a parent?

    How does being a parent improve your yoga teaching?

    How does being a yoga teacher improve your parenting?

    Are you expecting yourself to be perfect at both roles?

    What would perfect look like, in each role?

    Is it even possible to be perfect in both roles?

    How can you lean in to what you’re good at and what you enjoy?

    Tools, tricks and tips for the ongoing balance

    This is like the mechanic with the dodgy car. Us yoga teachers are sometimes the last to look after ourselves, even though we teach – day in, day out – others how to look after themselves. This has to stop for many reasons. So first and foremost, what one thing can you do every day to fill your cup. I’m such a big believer in removing barriers, so what can you fit in to your day easily. Remember this might grow and evolve, so just start with what you can do. It might be five minutes meditation. Two minutes of chair yoga before you open your email inbox. Ten deep breaths in the car when you pull in to work’s car park. Staying after a class, after you’ve said goodbye to everyone to lie down on your yoga mat. What can you fit in to your day, as is.

    One tip that’s coming from my heart to yours is to take a beat as you switch roles. What do I mean by that?

    Let’s say you’ve had a mad morning with the kids, one of those when even though everyone is, by some miracle, dressed, it STILL takes a further 30 minutes to get shoes on and get out of the door – yeah one of those. You’re a bit behind schedule and so the drive to your class is just that little bit more tense. You arrive – not late, but later than you wanted to – and you greet the person on reception as you dash past to go set up the studio. You can hear your voice is tense, your shoulders are still tense, and it’s just not an ideal start to the class. Instead of pressing on to teach, how about this. You still on your mat, or in a quiet corner of the studio, or you lock yourself in a toilet cubicle and take a second to consciously switch roles, from frazzled parent wondering what just happened, to aware yoga teacher ready to mindfully guide your yogis through their class. I have a special meditation to guide you through this – it’s just one minute long, get yours from our show notes.

    This is – of course – just as important switching the other way too. I’ve spoken to so many yoga teachers who are parents who’ve said something along the lines of ‘I had such a busy day, back to back classes / doing admin – whatever it might be, then I get home and the house is a tip! Nothing’s where it should be. No one has thought to get dinner on the go…’ etc. I also have a one minute guided meditation to switch you from yoga teacher to parent; setting expectations for what things will be like, or could be like, as you open the front door. I’d love to know if you find these useful!

    The priority of setting priorities

    Another thing I notice quite often, is an astronomically huge to do list that just doesn’t get done. I bang on about this all the time; but your mental bandwidth, time and energy are finite. I’m going to say that again because it’s very important and very relevant. Your mental bandwidth, time and energy are finite. Also, kids tend to take up a lot of these vital resources; you use a disproportionate amount of mental bandwidth planning where they need to be, by when, how they will get there, what they need to take. Kids have no concept of time, and as such, they take up a lot of it. And boy, do they absorb a lot of energy! Of course they’re joyful – in the main. But I just want to be pragmatic about this balancing act of being a parent and a yoga teacher; that just by being an active parent, you’ll most likely have less mental bandwidth, time and energy, so you need to spend them very, very wisely. What does this mean? It means you need to be realistic about what you can achieve in a day. In my experience; once this long to do list is written, there’s then a pull, a conflict, that doesn’t really get resolved; you finish the day either with loads of stuff on the list, or not much on the list but weighty parent-guilt as you haven’t spent much with the kids or – worst of all – both.

    So what can you do?

    Be realistic. I know this is probably boring, and a little ironic as it’s an extra thing to do, but trust me… Put estimated time next to your tasks and make sure you’ve accounted for everything that you do, or want to do. Yes, unloading the dishwasher only takes five minutes- but that’s five minutes that you’re not doing other things. I’m not saying this to stress you out, I promise, but just to be realistic with what you can achieve in the day. If you want to spend after-nursery or after-school time with the kids, that’s probably one, two, more hours that you don’t want to be teaching, houseworking, working, doing other things, so account for that in your list. Once you’ve written your list, and put estimated timings against everything, do you have time to do everything? If not; you cannot magic more time in the day, so be pragmatic and ruthless. Something has to go. This is non-negotiable. There are only 24 hours in the day. What do you need to drop?

    I’ve called this section the priority of setting priorities. I mentioned at the beginning of the episode that I feel slightly more balanced now than I ever have before, and this has been a game changer for me; my to do list is written in the order of priorities, so if I don’t get to the things at the bottom that’s ok. I personally can’t recommend it enough.

    How to know when it’s hitting the fan

    Us yoga teachers seem to be very tuned in to seeing when other people are near their limit, but less tuned in to when we, personally are near our limit. At the risk of telling you what you most certainly already know, some example warning signs are:

    • Physical tension that will not budge, such as in the jaw, neck or shoulders
    • Feeling hopeless or helpless, that even when you try your hardest, it won’t be enough
    • Struggling with confidence
    • Struggling with inspiration for teaching
    • Feeling ratty with the kids, with your other half, with your close loved ones
    • Over-reacting to things that wouldn’t normally bother you *that* much
    • Trouble sleeping, which is very annoying as you’re dog tired
    • Your appetite is insatiable, or non-existent

    There are so, so, so many more but these are probably enough for now. If and when you notice these warning signs in yourself, how you deal with them will be up to you and your unique set of circumstances. If financial stress is contributing to your overall stress load, the reality is that cancelling classes or getting cover probably won’t reduce the stress load, it may even add to it. It might be that you continue teaching but you increase moments of rest in your day, or you reduce your caffeine intake, or you book a massage. You might be in a position to take a bit of time off, in which case, you should seriously consider it. You might look at increasing child care for a few days, to reduce the mental load.

    Having a ‘when it hits the fan’ plan in place; created when you’re in a good place and can think straight, is, in my humble view, irreplaceable.

    Easing the parent guilt

    I know this is most often referred to as ‘mum guilt’ but I know many dads as well as other caring roles who experience this too. Let’s look at why this happens. You want the best for your offspring and for your yogis. You have an expectation of your output in order to excel in both roles, which might include some, all, or none of the following: a spotless house, clean warm and lovely clothes, a full fridge, creative but accessible yoga class plans, being everywhere slightly early to get your head in gear, always being friendly welcoming an having time for everyone… should I go on?!


    The fact, there probably just isn’t enough resources; time, mental bandwidth and energy to actually do all of these things. But somehow you feel you’re at fault for not achieving those things, and therefore you feel guilty. For me, easing the guilt is not a mindfulness exercise – just let it go! It’s not an exercise in efficiency; do x, y or z and you’ll fit much more in to your day! For me, easing the guilt goes back to what we talked about earlier; being pragmatic with your resources, especially your time. What do you want to do in day, and what can you do in a day, and that’s that.

    To conclude

    In summary, the more I talk about this, the more I think that we should be applauded! Both roles; parenting and yoga teaching, are time-consuming, caring roles where you give the best of yourself, so that others can be the best of themselves. When left here, this can be incredibly draining. So if you only take one thing from this episode, let it be this; you have to fill your cup in order to look after others. You have to put your oxygen mask on first. A tired, frustrated, achey yoga teacher will inspire no one. A frazzled, grumpy parent will just inflame the household. So if and when you feel that you’re not deserving of 15 minutes, half an hour, a day – remember – if it helps – think that you are actually doing this for your family and your yogis.

    Don’t forget to download your switching roles meditations to make the transitions so much smoother for you and everyone involved.

    I’d absolutely love to hear your tips and tricks; how do you cope with these two roles, that could so easily conflict?

    And remember, yoga teacher, you’re doing an amazing job! As happy always, happy teaching.