What the hell do you do all day? AKA a day in the life of a yoga teacher
People (friends, parents, strangers I meet on planes) often ask me what my schedule is like as a yoga teacher. How do I fill my days if I "only" teach 10 public classes each week? What the hell am I doing with the rest of my time and why am I so tired at the end of the day? So, here's a 'typical' Tuesday for me at the moment.
6:15am: Alarm goes off. Roll out of bed. Turn on stove-top espresso machine. Stumble to bathroom, throw on yoga clothes. Drink coffee. Shove half a banana and a homemade energy ball in my mouth.
6:35am: Walk up to Parson Green to teach private client.
7-8am: Teach private client. Working with private clients can be a delicate balance because it is such a personal relationship, so I try to pick my private clients very carefully, and I feel lucky to currently be working with some really fabulous people. At the moment, I'm working with several clients with persistent injuries, and I am learning so much. Also, teaching in people's homes is an entirely different skill than teaching at a studio. Real life interruptions (phone calls, deliveries, crying children, or a small London apartment with no room for a yoga mat) all have to be considered.
8-8:30am: Walk home
8:30-10am: Eat breakfast ("overnight oats" with berries, the other half of my 6:15am banana, and walnuts, more coffee), clear inbox, put first load of laundry in (yoga teachers have a lot of laundry), tidy flat.
10-10:35am: Train, then tube up to Barry's Bootcamp
10:45-11:45am: Butt + Legs Day at Barry's Bootcamp with my favourite trainer, Faisal; i.e. an hour of running like hell on the treadmill, groaning through jump squats, and wondering why I put myself through this every week. Then I remember that I need to cross train to stay strong enough to teach yoga, I'm a bit of a masochist, and I not so secretly love the pop music Faisal plays.
Quickly shower (I love the bergamot body wash in the showers at Barry's...it's the little things, people!), then jump on the tube down to Oxford Circus.
12:15-1pm: Coffee (soya flat white) at Department of Coffee and Social Affairs with friend and fellow yoga teacher who I am collaborating with for a future yoga retreat (watch this space!). (In case you're counting, that's coffee #3 for the day). Part work, part social catch up. It's always nice to see her and I am reminded that I am lucky to have met some really lovely people teaching yoga.
1-1:30pm: Tube, then train home.
1:30-3:15pm: Lunch at home (leftover ginger citrus tofu noodle salad from the night before), admin/life (more clearing inbox, responding to emails, looking for retreat venues, hanging out laundry. I also spend some time reading about the injury one of my private clients is working with, and the injury of a student in one of my group classes, so that I can do a better job of teaching them). At some point, I eat an apple sprinkled with cinnamon and drink a cup of assam tea.
3:15-4:30pm: Some yin style yoga at home to loosen up my legs post-Barry's bootcamp. I've learned the hard way that DOMS make teaching and practising yoga the day after Barry's really un-fun, so I try to stretch everything out on the days I do strength training and intervals. Afterwards, I do a bit of pranayama and a 15-minute meditation. Eat a couple of rice cakes with hummus and sriracha (#srirachaALLTHETHINGS) while packing up my bag and getting ready to head out the door.
4:30-5:45pm: Take the train, then tube to Covent Garden, briefly stopping at a couple of shops to run some errands. Run into a fellow teacher/friend and we share a few laughs which is another bright spot in my afternoon.
6-7:30pm: Teach my regular Tuesday night class at Yotopia. I've been away the past few weeks, and it's great to see my students again. The room is really warm this week and everyone is sweating from the first Sun A. This is a challenging class to teach because it's 90 minutes and relatively late in the day. I sometimes notice that my students' energy starts to fade about 60 minutes into this class, and I have to be constantly on my toes, adapting the practice as we go based on what I am observing in the room. I'm talking in classes this week about the relationship between satya (honesty) and ahimsa (non-harming), and every time I teach a class I feel like I refine that theme a bit and present it in a stronger way. Always learning, always refining.
7:45-8:30pm: Tube, then train home, stopping at grocery store on the way home.
8:30-9:30pm: Make and eat a quick dinner (eggs and avocado on toast with more sriracha...such a yoga teacher cliché meal!). Notice that the fitness app on my phone logged that I walked for 2 hours and 24 minutes today (9 km), which doesn't include the hour I spent running for my life at Barry's. That also doesn't include the two and a half hours I spent on my feet teaching yoga, giving adjustments, demo-ing a few poses, etc. Eat a few squares of dark chocolate...and then a few more.
9:30-10:30pm: Put my phone in airplane mode. Read book ("A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini) while drinking licorice tea in bath. Yep, really. Another cliché.
10:45pm: Lights off. Listen to Radio 4 for 15 minutes, then sleep.
So, yes, there are large hunks of unstructured time in the middle of my day when most people are at their desks, but I never struggle to find tasks that need to be attended to during this time. While my schedule means I am able to meet friends for lunch or coffee at odd hours on a weekday, and I get to go to yoga and fitness classes at times when most people are at work, my days are also often really long, full, and busy.
In some ways, this is a "typical" day for me, but the truth is, there is no "typical" day as a yoga teacher. Some weeks, I see all four of my regular private clients, some weeks I see none of them if everyone is on holiday or has a conflict. Most days, I teach at least two studio classes (on Wednesdays, I teach two public classes at two different studios, teach one private client in her home, and usually go to a third studio to practice myself), and I spend a lot of time traversing across London getting around. Sometimes that means killing an hour or two in a cafe between classes. Some weeks, I cover a few extra classes, teach a workshop, or teach/run some other special event; on those weeks, my coffee consumption is even higher than normal. I obviously do not survive off of a steady diet of matcha, green smoothies, and raw vegan food. I often feel like I'm constantly putting food in my mouth. Like most people I know, sometimes what I eat is relatively healthy and balanced (today was a relatively healthy day), but some days I eat a brownie at 11am and finish the day with a couple of beers at the pub. I try to attend several yoga classes each week as a student, and sometimes my work schedule (or personal preference) means that I mostly practice mostly at home. Fridays are my day off. If I'm lucky, that means I get to go be a student in one of my favourite yoga classes, and indulge in a long and lazy lunch with a friend. But I also teach every Saturday morning until noon, when a lot people are still in bed, and on Sunday evenings. It's a constant balancing act.
Ironically, teaching yoga can be very isolating. Although we spend our lives moving other people's bodies around on the mat, we also spend a lot of time alone. Yoga teachers don't really have 'colleagues' like people who have more traditional jobs, but I feel extremely lucky to have made a few honest-to-God, real "I'd jump in front of a bus for you" friends who are also yoga teachers. Sometimes our schedules match up so we are free at the same times to go to a class together and squeeze in a quick lunch before or after that class. But more often than not, I am flying solo. My schedule often means that I can't go out late on Friday nights, and I'm often really knackered at the end of the day and not terribly good company. Sometimes, the last thing I want to do after saying "inhale, exhale" 4000 times in one day, is talk to someone else.
The lack of a structured, regular routine is something that I relish and struggle with in equal measure. I love the freedom and flexibility of my schedule. But as a type-A personality and someone who likes to plan things in advance, it's hard when there are so many moving parts to constantly juggle. Like any job, there are ups and downs, benefits and pitfalls, rewards and trade-offs. At the end of the day though, I can't imagine another job I'd rather have. I count myself as one of the incredibly fortunate people in the world.