Whether or Not to Teach When You Are Sick

IMG_2179How does a yoga teacher or any teacher for that matter know when to call in sick and take some time off to rest and recover?  I say your body will let you know.  Especially you, yogis and yoginis. Practicing what we preach in our own lives can be a tall order to fill. “Take care of your body, and it will take care of you,” is something I spout off in class just about every time I teach but when it came to myself I felt short!  After years upon years of practicing with all different teachers with many different styles of teaching I have seen it time and time again.  Teacher burn out.  It can really take a toll on the mind and body.  You find yourself teaching 20 classes a week, practicing on your “down time,” eating while checking emails, checking emails all hours of the day, go go go until you hit the hay at the end of the day and do it all over the following morning.  Sure, it feels great in the beginning but over time the body starts to break down when it doesn’t get rest.

Just a couple of weeks ago I got that all familiar sinus pressure that tends to occur around Spring every year.  I have a history of sinus allergies, I know what it feels like when something is off balance in my body, and yet I kept going at the speed of a race horse to get “it” all done.  My list of things to do on my schedule did not become shorter while I was on the cusp of being sick, I think I probably even added a few tasks in between classes that I never do to prepare for my big move in August.  “What better time to do these things than RIGHT NOW,” I thought to myself.  So I suffered the consequences because I didn’t listen to my body.  I didn’t slow down.  I landed myself a 100 degree fever, a prescription a 10 day cycle of antibiotics, and a week full of classes to either get covered or not.  Seems like a no-brainer, right??  For some one like me, who absolutely LOVES what they do, and suffers from a little thing called perfectionism from time to time… this can be a large lesson for the ego in self-compassion.  The first few days I was sick it was easy, I literally had no energy to give, so I got my classes covered… Mid week, I still felt pretty awful, but I started to be able to move.  That is when it got tricky.  I start thinking, “Well, I can walk to and from the bathroom without puking, maybe I can teach a class” but meanwhile I can barely eat still, walking to and from the bathroom is extremely fatiguing and I can’t do downward facing dog without everything hurting.  This is insane!  Thank God I am aware of my insanity today and I have a loving partner who backs me up when I need to rest.  So, I took off the whole week.  I knew, from listening to my body, and from my previous experiences that if I didn’t rest now, I would just prolong the time that I would be out.  This lesson has repeated itself for me time and time again and I have started listening the more I grow along my path.  Trust me, your students want you feeling great when you teach them and will sense it if you are neglecting to practice what you preach.  So the next time you think about trudging through with your body falling apart on you, remember what you tell your students, “Listen to your body, honor it, and it will honor you.”

A big part of my practice on and off of the mat is slowing down these days.  A lot of teachers I speak with regularly agree that it is  very difficult to take time to be still.  Even in a life where one of the biggest teachings of yoga is to… be still.  I know that is why I was drawn to yoga in the first place.  It has an uncanny way of getting the mind to be still… now if I could only get my body to follow more often.  This is a journey and I have to remember it is progress and not perfection.  The journey is truly the destination and this is not a race.

Remember you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone because you are already loved completely by the Divine just as you are.  Listen to that still soft voice within that guides you in the direction of love and light.


Alana Roach Yoga

RYT, CYT, Reiki, Wellness Guide and Freelance Writer



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