5 Reasons I Never Want to Be a Yoga Teacher.

Via Kate Bartolotta
on Feb 25, 2012
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I don’t want to be a yoga teacher and you can’t make me!

Earlier today I received an email from someone who assumed that I was a yoga teacher. She asked where I taught and if she could take my class if she was ever in town. I immediately corrected her assumption. Nope. Longtime yogini, no interest in ever being a teacher. Sacrilege in these parts, no? I mean, if I love it so much, why am I not chomping at the bit to become a RYT?

Oh so many reasons…

The top five:

1. I hate teaching.

Well, hate is a strong word. I don’t enjoy it much. I used to love it. I’ve taught English, creative writing, dance, nursery school, Kindergarten, swimming lessons, wilderness survival skills (don’t ask…), and I even taught in a long-tem sub position as a Junior High Gym teacher. I get super awesome bonus karma points for getting through that last one. I have enormous respect for teachers of all kinds. It’s a calling, not a job. I’ll teach anyone anything I can one on one, but the idea of teaching—teaching anything—to a group has lost it’s allure. Maybe I burned myself out on it, and it will come back around?

2. I’ve haven’t practiced long enough.

I started 17 years ago. I don’t think I’m ready yet. Okay, I always feel like I have to qualify this—I have not had an active practice for 17 years. I took my first yoga class at 18. I didn’t immediately dive into a daily practice, or even a weekly practice. Yoga and I have been on-again, off-again lovers for years. Sometimes I would stray and immerse myself in running, more dance classes or something in the martial arts family (usually after watching Kill Bill or an old kung fu movie). But I always come back. The past few years I’ve started digging deeper, physically and spiritually, but I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface. How could I possibly be ready to teach anyone else?

People also hear 17 years and think, “Wow! You must be phenomenal now.” Yeah, not so much. The past few years have been my most faithful, but I still wrestle with certain asanas (I’m looking at you, Pincha Mayurasana). Plus, with all the time I spend on my laptop making my neck and shoulders unhappy, my practice just sort of cancels that out instead of putting me ahead in the flexibility department.

via girlsinyogapants.com

3. I don’t really see myself as a “Yoga Girl.”

I’m more of a Writer Girl who also does yoga. I love yoga. It changed so much of my inner and outer life. And yeah, I rock my mala beads sometimes. I love my TOMS. I love a lot of the “yoga girl” trappings. And more importantly—I practice most days. I usually take one or two days off a week. But I don’t know if I’d say it defines me. I’m sure there are people who know me who categorize me that way. But realistically, it’s a small but integral piece of the whole me. I can’t imagine not having an asana practice but…I feel a little selfish about it. It’s something I do for me. It’s an area of my life where I like to receive and learn. Not sure if I want that to change.

4. Sometimes I roll my eyes when people say Namaste.

C’mon. You know what I mean. It’s a beautiful expression. I say it in class and I embrace the attitude fully. But sometimes…ugh. We’ve all met someone who can be the bitchiest of the sanctimonious yoga bullies and then tack a little namaste “Love ‘n Light” on the end to soften the blow. It’s the yoga community equivalent of saying something mean and slapping one of those stupid emoticons on the end. Hi, I’m about to be an assh*le, but since I put a semi-colon and close parentheses on the end, it’s all good! Namaste, motherf*ckers!

So, I say it sometimes, but only when it feels genuine. I’ve picked up my fair share of Sanskrit along my yoga journey. It’s useful knowledge to have and it enriches my practice, but it’s not cool lingo that makes me part of the yoga clique. I keep a namaste attitude in my heart instead of flashing the word around all the time so that people know I’m “spiritual.”

5. I don’t have to.

Everyone has those things inside that they have to do. That if they didn’t do them they’d just burst open. Teaching yoga isn’t that for me. I’m sure there are a lot of wonderful teachers whose passion is quiet and not a desperate burning need to teach. My plate is pretty full of the things that I just must do or I’ll burst. I’m not sure if I have room for more (or want to make room for more) this time around.

When I have something I need to write about, I just have to do it. Have to. When I watch someone moving, I immediately look at his posture, his musculature and think about how and where I would work on him during a massage. There are songs that come on that absolutely make me dance. Can’t possibly be still. And there are times when I absolutely have to be in Pigeon Pose and get out whatever seems to be stuck in my sacral chakra. There are times when without even thinking, I sink into Balasana and rest my head on the floor to leave the day behind for a few minutes. I need to practice, but I don’t have to teach.

But then, even as I write this there is a little tiny spark of “well, maybe someday…”

It’s like the act of saying “never going to do it” piques some part of me and won’t let me rule it out. Am I missing something? Tell me yoga teachers, do I need to put YTT on my bucket list? What do you love about it? Tell me why I have to do it.



About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is a wellness cheerleader, yogini storyteller, and self-care maven. She also writes for Huffington Post, Yoga International, Mantra Yoga+ Health, a beauty full mind, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds. Kate's books are now available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. She is passionate about helping people fall in love with their lives. You can connect with Kate on Facebook and Instagram.


58 Responses to “5 Reasons I Never Want to Be a Yoga Teacher.”

  1. disillusionedyogi says:

    I've practiced for over 25 years and I'm a certified teacher. I loved this article because of #4. It really hit home for me. One of the reasons I immersed myself in yoga was the hope that I could escape the female bullies that seem to have never graduated from high school and still make other women miserable. Well, I discovered – many of them became yoga teachers. I have never had illusions of the yoga community being made up of perfect beings but I am depressed to find out that so many of the yogis in business are hypociritcal and will stab you in the back. They are a particular brand of nasty because they talk out of both sides of their mouths. Very dangerous indeed.

  2. Vision_Quest2 says:

    Granted, they are bullies. Life can be a lot like high school, I agree. But to THIS nerd, there is something SOOO much more subtle going on there. Many of today’s trendy-wannabe yoga teachers are actually grown-up Drama Club Wonks (who love to play Jock roles), who would rather teach the girls on the cheerleading squad, the Class Prexy; and even the Debate Team Captain, than the rest of us …

    They are just WONKS. Not in line for the real in-crowd (to whom they pander greatly). In line for just a lot of infighting. Just look at how many of them, if Anusara people, would want to take down a fallen John Friend.

  3. It was the perfect fit on paper. Blending aspects of my being, interests, and passion into one profession which I could actually be paid to love what I do. Wrong. I didn't realize how much I did not want to teach until after I spent a year focused on becoming a teacher. Actually, after my first YogaFit level 1 training three months after I made the decision to teach, I knew it didn't feel right. I couldn't, or wouldn't, commit to anything more than short term workshops. The more I read the less I learned. The more I focused on the goal of teaching the more detached I became my practice. The more time I spent reading about my formerly beloved practice the more I grew to loathe it. The more immersed I became into the yoga 'industry' the more I realized it's everything I don't value.

    Bottom line, The more I made yoga about someone or something else the less it became about me. I guess I'm selfish like that and I knew it before going in. One might think the money and time spent was a waste and in some ways it was. However, I would always wonder if I didn't try. Adding yoga teacher to the list of things I 'want to do when I grow up' and never did. I didn't want yoga on that painful disappointing list. Instead, I have the reassurance that it's not something I want to do and can comfortably live with that knowledge…for now. As long as it looks good on paper there will always be a gravitational pull. I'll be damned iArdha Chandrasana has eluded me for the 14 years of my practice. And yet, yoga teaching is one case where defying gravity is effortless for me. Go figure.

  4. kconnorsd says:

    Lovely read, thank you! As a current teacher, I can say this much: the very reasons I became a teacher were the reasons you named in your article. The woman who taught my teacher training lived by all of these things (yes, I was bullied by her repeatedly during our training, all with an obnoxious namaste at the end), and if she did anything for me it was that she encouraged me to teach so that people could come to a yoga class where their teacher is not a "yoga girl" and can't put her legs over her head, where she teaches like a friend and not a superior, and where she thanks you genuinely with words you know the meaning of. It makes a huge difference.

    May I add a #6? I don't like politics/kissing ass/playing games to get a job. Your yogi-fake-smile-namaste-I'm-judging-you-bull makes my head hurt, and I'm really not interested, thank you.

  5. Edie says:

    Hi Kate! It’s me…I teach and I love it. Now that I don’t teach too much and all the time I love it more. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started. I have taken trainings on and off since 2005. Next one starts in December.
    An teaching does not steal my seat as student, but enriches it.
    Poetry though, my first love, I did not want to teach and hate hate hate when poems get dissected and people talk about knowing the author’s intention or that it can mean anything depending on who is reading it; we all take something different away but it’s truth must stand.
    As a teacher I get to share and learn in yoga and my favorite format is special needs and therapeutics. There are as many ways to do anything as there are individuals. No right. No wrong. We can even shed good and bad and embrace any experience as just that.

    I like Namaste. I mean it when I say it. I like to Om.

    And often less is more!
    Great article! Love how the conversation rolled.

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  7. spitfire6 says:

    Great post! I think most people who say NAMASTE sound like afftected idiots, but that's just me. Maybe.
    Namaste mother f*ckers, however, I could get behind.

  8. Ha, just saw this! I don't play accordion because…geez, I have no idea! Maybe I should. 🙂