In 2010, I was a newly graduated yoga teacher and a bit overwhelmed with the competitiveness of yoga studio teaching jobs in California. It was never my intention to teach yoga as a “job”, but after going through teacher training I wanted to share what I loved.
I have always had an adventurous spirit and a drive to connect with people around the world. After a year of teaching donation-based classes in Lake Tahoe, I had a strong desire to gain more teaching experience. I also had a dream of pursuing my passion for surf travel. I combined both ideas and sought out “work exchange” yoga teaching gigs at surf resorts around the world. This allowed me to travel to some of the worlds best surf destinations and meet and practice with incredible yoga teachers and students. It is up to each individual to find his or her own path. I am writing this to share what has worked for me and hope it inspires other yoga teachers to think about creative teaching ideas and taking roads less traveled.
Teaching yoga in other countries has countless benefits. First of all, when we start looking abroad for teaching opportunities, the number of possibilities increases drastically. Teaching abroad gives us the chance to practice speaking other languages, see new places, try new foods, and to learn from other cultures. It is a great way to connect with other yoga teachers and students worldwide. Traveling and getting out of our comfort zone provides us time to really get to know ourselves and live unforgettable experiences. We can “live yoga” by being present in the journey, and being open to all that comes our way.
1. Set an intention.
As we learn from our daily yoga practice, setting intentions can bring ideas into clear and present focus. Some questions to ponder: Where do I want to teach? What inspires me? What is my purpose? Meditation, spending time in nature, and journaling are good places to seek these answers. A good friend once told me, “It is easy to get what we want. The hard part is knowing what we want.” Once we figure out what it is we truly want, having faith, courage, and persistence will allow our visions to become reality.
2. Get excited about the possibilities!
Dream big. Think about taking alternative paths. There are numerous yoga resorts and eco-sustainable communities out there and most all of them appreciate yoga teachers. Thru my travels I have found it fairly easy abroad to find places to teach yoga in exchange for room and board. Finding paid jobs can be a bit trickier, but they will come with experience. Be thankful for the opportunity to meet amazing contacts and scope out locations to hold your own yoga retreats one day.
3. Be resourceful: Word of mouth/Internet research.
Ask friends and fellow yoga teachers for advice. Be curious, brave, and ask questions. The Internet is an amazing tool and can allow us to network with other yogis and yoga organizations around the world. “Google” your dream job. The first time I looked into teaching yoga abroad I entered “yoga and surfing teaching jobs” in the search engine and began researching possibilities from there. The new website, Yoga Trade, www.yogatrade.com is an amazing place to explore opportunities and connect.
4. Just Go.
If it seems tough securing a teaching job in advance, don’t give up. Go for it! The worst thing that can happen is that a lesson will be learned. I have never regretted any travels. In my experience teaching internationally, I have noticed a high demand for volunteer yoga teachers seasonally at resorts and eco communities. In popular destinations such as Central America and Asia, it can sometimes be easier to get yoga teaching jobs in person. Take action. Be a risk taker. Buy a plane ticket.
5. Travel light.
In yoga, a lesson we learn over and over is to, “let go”. This is a great concept to work on when wanting to travel and teach. It is not just about packing our bags light. Ponder the question, “Do I have anything unnecessary that I am holding onto? (Material items, relationships, conditioned thoughts, etc.)” Sometimes the only things holding us back are the things we are holding onto.
6. Keep it simple.
Life can be really simple if we make it so. Practice not having expectations and stick with a simple plan. I have found it quite simple to travel to warm/ocean destinations as basic supplies needed include a travel light yoga mat, backpack, headlamp, swimsuit, and hat and fresh fruit usual thrives. We find we can get by with a lot less and realize we may be overindulging in our normal lives.
7. See the positives of living without modern comforts.
Teaching in other countries can mean living in rustic conditions. This helps us to be more in tune with the natural rhythms of the earth. Living closer to nature, and giving our selves a break from modern technology can be a blessing. I am not going to lie, I like a bit of luxury here and there, but I am also fine with taking cold showers, growing my own food, using composting toilets, and finding the occasional scorpion in my bed. To me, this is part of the adventure, growing process, and experience.
8. Embrace solitude.
It can be exhilarating and fun to travel alone. Sometimes while traveling alone it is hard to actually ever really be “alone”. You will meet an abundance of people and other travelers. If you do find that you have a lot of solo time, see it as a time for reflection.
9. Remember that home is where the heart is.
Know that the places we leave will always be there to return to. And we can create a sense of rootedness and home from within where ever we may land. We are always exactly where we are supposed to be.
We have all heard the quote, “Follow what you love”. It can also be viewed as, “Love what you do.” A great way to serve others, inspire, and grace the world with positive energy is by loving everything we do. Make best friends with enthusiasm. Fire starts fire. If we aren’t in love with what we do, what’s the point?
I am forever grateful for the adventures and experiences, the “seasonal” jobs that have allowed me to fund these journeys, all the teachers I have met along the way, and the unconditional loving support from family and friends who understand my gypsy ways. ~Erica Hartnick