Taking Care of Yourself in Hard Times As a Yoga Teacher

Updated: Mar 12



Running a yoga business can be so time-consuming and really overwhelming. But it’s possible to tap into your yoga tools to help you navigate it and get it all done.

My guest for this topic is Shailla Vaidya is a physician, a yoga therapist, and an entrepreneur.


If you struggle with feeling like you can’t possibly get it all done or you’re like me and most of us, and we fall into the feeling of all the things we “should” be doing, you’re going to love what Shailla has to share: the process of Pacing, Accepting, and Surrendering.



Use Yoga's Mindfulness Tools To Help With Productivity

"We really have to take our own advice and remind ourselves how key these practices are to our health and wellbeing during these times.” - Shailla Vaidya

Yoga teachers have mindfulness tools to help other people navigate the tough and overwhelming times in their lives. Remember that you have these tools to use in your own life.


We know so much about the science behind the techniques of yoga and how they can help us release stress, mitigate stress, and rest.


This is a really hard time for people: the isolation, the unemployment, the drop in income. Safety is so important to our sense of well-being. When our income is threatened and we don’t have the finance to support ourselves, that’s really going to increase stress.


No amount of yoga is going to make that stress go away, but it can help us stay present for what is here right now and what we’re coping with right now. That’s something that yoga teachers have the skill to help others and hopefully can practice that for themselves as well.


Consider: What would you tell your student who is feeling overwhelmed? What would you encourage your student to do if they came to you with that problem?



**This was also a podcast episode (episode #85). Use the player below if you'd prefer to listen to this message.





Take a Break

“The brain needs rest. When we try to push it, it just increases stress and we’re less effective and efficient at what we need to do.” - Shailla Vaidya


Sometimes we need reminders to take a break from what we're working on.


This is something we should all be doing every so often, especially if we're sitting in front of a computer. It can be tough to stop right in the middle of what you're doing, but taking a break actually rejuvenates us so we can come back and be more effective in our work.


Tip: Set a timer - Take that 10 or 15 minute break. Get away from the screen. Meditate. Move your body a little bit. There are so many different ways to do it.



Give Yourself Permission

“We are so much more than what we get accomplished in one day.” - Shailla Vaidya


So many of us have voices in our head that push us. Give yourself permission to slow down. Give yourself permission to take a break. Give yourself permission to not be perfect today. Give yourself permission to only do a 10-minute yoga practice.


It’s amazing how when you do that, when you give yourself permission, how much you can let go. Notice how much of the tension in your body releases.




Structure and Flexibility

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s how to pivot.


There’s always going to be a curveball. We have to be flexible. That’s what makes a good entrepreneur as well. To be resilient, to be able to cope with what the world has given you and take that time to think “Okay, how can I do this differently? How can I make this work?”


"If we’re too structured and we’re too focused on our plan, we may not be able to be as flexible when things like this happen that clearly affect our business and our business plan and what we thought was going to happen.” - Shailla Vaidya


I am a person who really likes structure and a plan. I’m not the most spontaneous person in the world. But when I became an entrepreneur and started my own business, I had to learn how to be okay with things changing. Otherwise it wouldn’t work. There’s just no way to have a plan and follow it to a T.


A routine and a plan can be very helpful, as long as it doesn’t stress you out. When it comes to marketing your yoga business, I always suggest a plan or system to start with. Start with the plan, make it your own, and start to reveal who you are in a way that feels good to you. Find the groove that works for you.


If you do this, you'll attract your people: the people that resonate with you.




Pacing, Acceptance, Surrender

If you feel like you can’t possibly get it all done or you keep thinking of things you “should” be doing, then try applying Shailla’s process of Pacing, Acceptance and Surrender.


1. Pacing

"Run your own race. -Oprah


The pacing piece is so important so you don't burn out.

When the pandemic happened in 2020 and everything moved online, there was a flood of people who released courses and online offers, so a lot of us felt like we were running behind.


But remember: This format of what we're doing is not going away. We're going to be in the virtual world even after the pandemic ends. You've got all the time you need.


"We have to slow down to speed up.” - Shailla Vaidya


2. Acceptance

There are things we are going to be able to control and understand, and there are things we can't. We can't do some of what we used to do.


A lot of people may notice that when they're trying to pivot and build something new that they are hitting some personal resistance. "This doesn't feel right" or "I don't want to do it this way." Something comes up. With the pandemic, we may miss the energy that happens when you're teaching a yoga class to a room full of students. We may have to grieve the way our life was before. It's okay to feel sad. It's okay to grieve. If we don't identify it and accept it, we won't be able to progress and move forward.


"It's that mindfulness piece again of 'What is here for me right now?' And that compassion piece of being able to hold space for it and allow it." - Shailla Vaidya


Allow yourself to be angry, sad, or scared. And then once you be with that and accept it, you can consider your next steps as opposed to just getting really frustrated about the situation.


3. Surrender

Surrender to what you can't control.

We can't control the fact that we can't see people face to face. We can't control the fact that our livelihoods have been cut in half or all together. That's heavy to bear, and it's not for us to carry.


"There's a higher power that has control over what we don't have control over. It's surrendering to that, and having faith that it will work out however it will work out and be okay." - Shailla Vaidya


Surrender, release the stress, reset, and try working at your own pace.


“We think there’s a timeline, but there’s really no timeline. Things are going to happen when you surrender to the process.” - Shailla Vaidya


I bet you've said this to your students at some points, whether you use these specific words or not. So we just need to turn it around and apply it to ourselves.


The process of pacing, accepting, and surrendering can be applied to every aspect of your life, including your yoga business. For example, when you're dealing with technology and you're getting frustrated, take your time learning and give yourself grace. Take a breath, walk away, and come back. Let go of perfection. You don't have to do things in any specific way.


"Done is better than perfect!" - Amanda McKinney and Shailla Vaidya



Your next step

Now it’s time to put this into action in your yoga business. Your next step is to identify something in your life that needs Shailla’s process of Pacing, Acceptance and Surrender.


Is there something you’re feeling pressured to do, something you’re trying to solve that you’re feeling frustrated about, a process that’s just not working for you?


If so, walk through this process:

  • Pacing - Figuring out what pace you need for this process.

  • Acceptance - What you can control and what you can’t, grieving or feeling whatever emotion that’s needed.

  • Surrendering - Remembering that you don’t have to carry everything all the time. What can you let go of?

Give this process time and give yourself permission to do things your way. Listen to people who’ve walked the path before, take in that information and then figure out how it works best for you.


Until next time, give yourself permission to do the things that feel good to you and grace along the way.


“We think there’s a timeline, but there’s really no timeline. Things are going to happen when you surrender to the process.” - Shailla Vaidya












About Shailla

Shailla Vaidya, MD MPH CCFP(EM) C-IAYT is a Physician/Yoga Therapist practicing Mind-Body Medicine in Toronto, Ontario. She studied Medicine at Dalhousie University, did her residency in Family and Emergency Medicine at the University of Ottawa, and completed a Master’s in Public Health (Management and Policy) at Harvard University. She has also served as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster University and the University of Toronto.


Dr. Vaidya grew up in a cultural tradition of Yoga and Ayurveda and has been bridging Eastern Wisdom with Western Medicine throughout her 20 years of medical practice. She completed her yoga teacher training and yoga therapy training with the Mohans and the Svastha Yoga Therapy. She is the creator of the Yoga of Stress Resilience Burnout Recovery Program, and the Reconnect Concussion program, both of which combine the path of yoga with the science of human function for healing and recovery. Dr. Vaidya frequently gives workshops for Licensed Health Care Professionals and Yoga Therapists on how yoga can be used as an adjuvant therapy for many health issues.


Shailla's Links

Elizabeth Gilbert Ted Talk - https://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_your_elusive_creative_genius

Pivot Clip from Friends - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tam7KO4qhUI


Want support and encouragement while navigating your yoga business?


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