Finding Balance in Yoga/Work/Life/Study/Practice

In a recent group coaching session with yoga teachers and teachers-in-training we talked about the work/study/life/practice balance for yoga teachers, establishing boundaries, and the art of saying no.

You can listen to my intro to that discussion here:


Below read a transcript:

It can be a lot to balance your practice and study schedule along with everything else in your life, so I thought we might talk about the challenges, strategies, and successes in balancing all of these aspects during yoga teacher training, and once you are moving out into the world to teach yoga, whether that will be part-time or full-time.

In my own life, I have struggled a bit with the work/life balance for a little while, about 25 years (lol). I still have trouble with establishing boundaries around my work. In some ways that’s due to the fact that this is my full-time job, so I’m not juggling different workloads, and I’m not in a caring role for children or elderly parents, so I have a lot more freedom to work when I like, which for me has meant that I’m sort of low-key always working.

Over the years I’ve found some strategies that have worked for me, like blocking out my time for answering emails, creating templates to answer frequently asked questions, and attending to business admin tasks regularly so they never get out of control. It’s taken me a long time to get over the sense that all emails and inquiries are urgent, so I’m not answering email at 10pm, and I’m letting trickier questions or conflicts marinate a bit while I give myself time to consider more deeply rather than just reacting.

As far as creating a teaching schedule goes, I guess the strategy that I worked with when I started my teaching practice was ‘say yes to everything’. In the positive this gave me a really great start at teaching in a variety of spaces, to a variety of students, and I got heaps of practice right out of the starting gate. On the negative, it has led to burnout on a few occasions.

You might prefer to use the strategy, ‘start the way you wish to carry on’, beginning your teaching practice the way you see it working best for your lifestyle in the long term. Perhaps that means being more selective about what classes you take on, starting more conservatively with one or two classes to find your feet, see what works for you in terms of time, location, style of class, variety of students etc.


I also wanted to talk a bit about developing a practice of honest boundaries. To be able to say no is a practice for many of us and being able to do so without telling those ‘Little white lies’ is important to me.

So, this is kind of following our philosophy of Satya, truthfulness, how to be truthful when you want to say no. How to set boundaries or decline kindly, truthfully, and firmly – because sometimes people don’t take no for an answer.

Too often in the past I’ve just gone along even though I know it doesn’t work for me, or the direction is wrong for me. To set aside my own needs for someone else’s desires.

I don’t want to do that anymore. But I’m not good at it, I haven’t had a lot of practice in saying no. So, it’s a work in progress.

Because I’m already a bit socially clumsy, I find that I need some strategies for this practice, or I get flustered and overwhelmed.

When pressed I might still rely on a little white lie, but I’m trying. One thing I’ve noticed is that, with folks that I’m practicing with, they seem to be picking up on the strategies and practicing a little bit of ‘no’ as well.

So, today I thought that if you are someone who struggles with saying no while practicing truthfulness, I’d share a few of the strategies that I’ve been playing with. Some might work for you. Some might not. You might have some strategies that you can share, and I’d love to hear them!

So, I made some categories of no to address different scenarios and different intensity levels of no. You could use these in a few different scenarios:

  • Someone asking you to take on a new class
  • A student asking you to put a new class on your schedule or book a private session
  • Social stuff: dinner party, brunch, get-togethers etc
  • An offer of a new role
  • An invite to a social, work, or family function
Category 1) I would, but…
  • Sounds like a great opportunity, but I’m not the right person for that role
  • I would love to, but my timing for that doesn’t work this week.
Category 2) Sorry, but…

If you have to add a ‘sorry’ (I’m Canadian, it’s the law)

  • Sorry, that doesn’t work for me this week
  • Sorry, that doesn’t fit with my business/teaching practice/workload right now
  • Sorry I don’t have the space for that right now, perhaps we can check back in a few months’ time
  • I can’t fit that into my schedule at the moment, sorry.
Category 3) This is advanced!
  • No, but thanks for asking me.
  • I’m going to have to decline but appreciate the offer.
  • I’d rather not, thanks.
  • I can’t fit that into my schedule
  • No

Now, with many of these, folks might ask follow-up questions. Here’s where your truthfulness gets tested. You still want to be honest. One trick is to remember you don’t owe anyone an explanation.

First inquiry: Can you take on this Wednesday night class for us through the winter?

No, sorry that doesn’t fit with my schedule right now

If they press: Why, do you have another class on at that time?

No, you don’t have anything on your schedule for that time, but it’s winter, it’s dark and cold, and you don’t want to do it. So, you could truthfully answer, no I have a personal engagement at that time (so what if it’s a good book by the fireplace, that’s no one else’s business)

Okay, so I’ve put a lot out there on work/life balance and the art of saying no, now I’d love to hear from you:

  • what are your questions, experiences, insights, strategies for balancing a busy life of work, teaching, study, practice?
  • How do you establish rhythms or boundaries in your yoga life?
  • Do you have strategies that you’ve learned in other professional or academic roles that you can use for your yoga teaching practice?
  • How do you organize your week so that you ensure there’s space for practice, study, meditation, business administration?
  • How do you keep the love for the practice when you professionalize yoga?
  • Will you schedule your practice each week? Go to classes that are just for you (not for your learning?

If you have strategies to share, join us on Facebook or Instagram to keep this conversation going!

Leave a Reply