We are at our base yogis just like you. Our practice has just evolved to teaching others our yoga. We still love to practice, we still need to practice, when we can find the time. You'll see us in classes from time to time. Maybe you wonder to yourself, what is a teacher doing in here? We need that practice too, and often times every bit as much as you. Teaching is wonderful. Imparting your knowledge, your practice, to others eager to listen. To see your students progress and grow. Yet as wonderful as it can be, its still not a yoga practice. We talk almost constantly. Our vocal chords can ache, not to mention talking calmly and intelligently why holding a wicked arm balance. We jump in and out of poses with lightening speed and more often than we should without a proper warm up. Teacher adrenaline runs through our veins, which can allow us to achieve amazing feats of yoga at a moments notice ... but somewhere along the way our body pays a price. There is no shavasana in our world. We're watching, tidying, helping, timing, massaging ... and the list goes on. Don't get me wrong, I always leave my classes feeling better than I went in. More content and accomplished than, still it never quite matches the feeling of a good practice with a nice long, well deserved shavasana.
Its a busy life. Its difficult to grow a teaching practice when you have an immovable brick wall of a day job to contend with. Something has to give and its generally sleep, spare time, and often even our practice that suffers. I've seen many a double-worlder succumb to the strain. Sadly it often results in a yoga crash. It all becomes too much and its their entire yoga practice that comes crashing to the ground. They stop teaching and practicing and almost overnight seem to disappear. We've all seen it. A popular or busy teacher just one day seems to vanish into thin air. Its a haunting fate for sure and I do my best to avoid it. I was up to teaching 5 classes a week and felt myself slipping down that oh so slippery slope. I gave up a class and consolidated the other 4 into 2 nights. I'm still busy but now I have some wiggle room which often times ends up with me in bed under the covers and out like a light before 9pm, some days even 7.
Many of my students think I'm a full time teacher. I'm a yoga teacher, they think, that's just what I do. How else could I teach and practice and appear so accomplished and put together? I must do yoga all the time. I see the shock and surprise in their faces when I say I have a 9 to 5 (or more like an 8-5 but that's another article). I'd love to say I was a full time yoga teacher. Deep down I'd certainly love to have the opportunity to make that sort of life a reality. However, for now it simply isn't. I'm not forced to leap between two worlds. I've grown up in the same society as you. I was expected to get a job, a house, a vehicle, a dog, and be an independent and financially contributing member of society. So that's what I did. I found yoga much later. I still have many of the trapping of that life and my yoga right now simply can't afford to foot the bill.
That doesn't mean it doesn't help. I first began to teach to pay for yoga. Yoga is something you can do anywhere and anytime but if you want to be a member of a studio, take workshops, go to retreats then you will need money. Yoga can be so many things and it can cost so many different prices. I've found a nice harmony, my teaching pays for my yoga. There isn't anything left over at the end of the day but I'm able to practice and learn in pretty much any way I wish ... with a little effort, patience and planning. My day job is then left to foot the bill for everything else just as it always has.
I have aspirations of one day being able to make a living at yoga. Perhaps letting go of the standard societal tenements that keep me chained to a regular job today, or maybe even have them bring money in. I'm often sad that it all comes down to money. I haven't found some secret paradise where I'm not affected by money and all that goes along with it. I'm just like you. I work a regular job. I struggle to get out of bed some mornings and never seem to get enough sleep. I do whatever I can to stay awake and make it through the day. The only difference is ... I head to the yoga studio to teach. In a way my second job, but my second home.
So if you know a struggling yoga teacher, caught between two worlds, maybe send a little extra love their way. If you aren't sure, just ask. They work hard to be your teacher. To provide a supportive class environment for all their students and they still have to go to work tomorrow just like you.