Posted by: thehungryrunner | June 11, 2009

Just for fun: 10 Hazards of Being a Yoga Instructor

…..and just to be fair, I’ll also include 12 benefits as well, to maintain the rightful “net positive” balance!

I’ve been working in fitness for over 15 years, so by now much of my routine and work habits are so second-nature I rarely think about them any more.  But there are those times when my Life and Work worlds collide, and I’m reminded that it isn’t always smooth sailing, doing what I do.

So here they are, lest you consider embarking on this profession yourself!  At the very least, think of this the next time you’re taking class from your (hopefully) smiling, friendly yoga instructor, whoever that is!

  1. OK, let’s get the obvious one out of the way.  Do you like eating beans and bean dishes?  Well do your mourning now, because it’s in your best interest to cut those out of your diet, given you have a daily quota of Downward Facing Dog and other “intestinally provocative” postures you must demonstrate to unsuspecting students.  Ditto for cabbage, brussel sprouts, and any drastic changes in your fiber intake.
  2. Are you a pre-menopausal woman?  Now is the time to address a major hazard that will challenge you more than any Scorpion Handstand ever could.  First, stock your car and your teaching bag with a back-up pair of black leggings or shorts, and a lifetime supply of those products that husbands dread having to buy on behalf of their wives.  For “cyclical” symptoms that are decidedly yoga-unfriendly, figure out what works to soothe the savage beast (or bloat, or cramping, or that truly special not-even-a-sponge-could-absorb-this-much-water retention), and be vigilant about following through with those measures.  For me it’s watching the sodium, cutting out carbonated beverages, and lots of peppermint and other herbal teas.
  3. If you enjoy TV shows that are actually current and aired in prime time…..well I can’t help you there.  But if you prefer reliving endless reruns late at night, this is the job for you!
  4. Feel a cold coming on?  Run as fast as you can for the vitamin C, tea, local medicine man, whatever it takes, as there is about a 99.999999% chance that if the cold sets up camp in your body, your voice will be the first to go.
  5. You’re human and you will give in to cravings even if you normally eat cleanly, no problem.  But it’s also guaranteed that you will run into a handful of students the minute you head to the grocery store to satisfy that hankering for MegaCaramelWhiteChocolateChipToffeeCookieBombs.  And forget the “Oh they’re for my husband/dog/sick friend in the hospital” explanation.  Honesty is definitely the best policy!
  6. Related to the above, honesty to others or not, it turns out (darn it) that your body WILL acknowledge that extra helping of MegaCaramelWhiteChocolateChipToffeeCookieBombs you hoped you “got away with.”  And that yoga apparel isn’t made to camouflage that fact.
  7. Body lotion becomes Item Number 1 on your Christmas (and birthday….and anniversary….) wish list.
  8. You will soon find yourself having a hard time getting a hold of your pedicurist, and when you do manage to snag an appointment, will wonder when it was that he/she began using a power sander for client’s heels.
  9. If you do manage to pull a muscle (of course doing something else, not yoga!) or sleep wrong and cause a stiff neck… still have to figure out a way to discretely teach class (and hope that no one notices that in order to look right, you have to rotate your entire body).
  10. Forget “good hair” day.  From here on out the goal is a “semi-cooperative hair” day.

So there are the top 10 hazards of my job.  Now for 12 of the many benefits:

  1. As a side benefit of spending much of your time demonstrating stretches, leading breathing techniques, and using your “yoga voice,” you are always far more calm and centered than you are when you have a week or two off from teaching yoga.
  2. (Hopefully) You learn early on that if you don’t truly practice what you preach — a healthy lifestyle and mind/body/spiritual practice to the best of your abilities, it shows.  This is good because it forces you to stay committed to living your best life and being a good testimonial to the benefits of yoga!
  3. You’re in a profession in which causing people to fall asleep is a GOOD thing.
  4. You’re in a profession in which people are actually HAPPY to see you and come to use your services.
  5. Never ever a need to wear pantyhose!!!!  That alone could sell it for me. 🙂
  6. You get to enjoy the satisfaction of watching people leave in a better mood, feeling better physically, more relaxed, etc. than when they arrived.
  7. You get to be inspired by your students and clients, boosting your own enthusiasm for giving it your all and also taking good care of your own body and mind.
  8. You get to flex your “staying positive even when cranky” muscle, which in turn improves your overall mood and cheerfulness outside of your classes and appointments.
  9. You get to choose your themes and design your own lesson plans, watch the effects, and use that information to tweak and refine.  Ditto for your music, your candles, the overall mood of the class, etc.  Definitely part of the fun!
  10. You never have to worry that yoga won’t be worked into your week.
  11. You realize how many kind and gracious people there are out there, and you have the good fortune to comingle with them on a regular basis.
  12. You realize that the list could go on and on but you have to stop it here!


  1. great blog. I do eat a lot of beans

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