9 Practical Things to Consider Before Traveling to Teach Yoga

So you’re thinking about traveling abroad to teach yoga. Perhaps you’re considering doing it for an extended period of time, or maybe you’re looking at doing a few months here and there. Traveling the world while sharing your knowledge of yoga, meeting new students, exploring different cultures and taking your practice to new places is an exciting opportunity. But here’s the thing, there are a few steps to take before you embark on that journey such as creating a compelling CV and building a profile on yoga job websites like Yoga Trade. There are also a few key points that you need to think about to ensure that your time is well spent and that the role is exactly what you expected and agreed upon.

A little about my personal experience: I completed my 200-hour training in San Francisco at the end of 2015 and was in the midst of a major career shift and relocation back to Hong Kong. At this point, I wasn’t 100% certain if I wanted to make the jump and transition into teaching full-time and already had a few trips planned and booked throughout 2016. I began looking into different short-term opportunities overseas via Yoga Trade – I love to travel, and I love yoga; mixing the two seemed like a no-brainer! So I put together a profile, paid the membership fee and submitted applications to work at hotels, retreats, surf camps and studios around the world.

One of the key things that you should know about traveling abroad to teach yoga is that it can be competitive. Of all the places I sent my yoga CV off to, only two got back to me. I ended up interviewing with one hotel, and guess what? I am wrapping up teaching five weeks of yoga in Vang Vieng, Laos! I realize that I was extremely fortunate to have landed a great opportunity in a beautiful town that was looking to shake off its party hard past, and excited be a part of growing Vang Vieng into a spot for wellness and yoga in Southeast Asia; but it doesn’t always work out this way and there are a few key factors that I think anybody looking to travel and teach yoga overseas should seriously consider before taking the leap. Here’s what you need to think about:

1. Cost of flights and travel

I applied to places in Nicaragua, Mexico, Portugal, Morocco, Bali, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Laos. But what I really should have done was look into how much time and money it would have taken to travel to each of these places, and decide whether I was comfortable paying these costs out of pocket before sending off my application. Luckily, teaching in Vang Vieng was worth the two flights, layover in Bangkok and slightly terrifying seven-hour bus journey to get there. Here’s the thing, most employers looking for yoga teachers to teach for a few months are not going to foot your transportation or visa expenses. So consider whether you’re willing to pay for your flights to work hundreds of miles away.

2. Seasonality of the destination

Now that you’ve decided on where you might want to travel to and where the opportunities may exist, think about seasonality. As an example, I ended up teaching in Laos during rainy season when tourist numbers are at its lowest. In practical terms, this meant that in some classes there was only one student, in others there were about seven or eight, but I also had to cancel a few classes because of no-shows. I enjoy teaching 1-on-1 and small group classes so it didn’t end up being a massive issue, but when you’re paid by the number of classes you teach or number of students that attend, this can seriously affect your income so bear seasonality in mind.


3. Number of students and general level of classes you are expected to teach

Some retreat centers may expect you to teach a dozen or more people per class, and some know that their class sizes tend to be much smaller. Some places cater to people who have been practicing yoga for years, whereas other places host classes where the majority of students have either never attended a yoga class in their life, or have been to one or two classes back home. Ask your potential future employer what the typical class size and level is so that you can ensure that you know what to expect. While you’re at it, find out if there’s any flexibility to decide what style of classes you will teach, or if there’s a fixed schedule to stick to. At Yoga in Vang Vieng, teachers are given the responsibility of putting together the schedule and entrusted to decide what they want to teach on each day.

4. Time commitment

How long is your gig for? Most places will ask for a 1-3 month time commitment, especially if accommodation is being provided. This also ties into the issue of whether you will need a work visa as some countries are extremely strict. How many classes will you teach per week? How long is each class? Are you the only teacher or are you splitting the teaching responsibilities with others?

5. How much will you be paid? Fixed salary? Per student? Per class?

We’re getting down to the nitty-gritty parts: not every position will be paid. In fact, it is quite common for some places to offer accommodation in return for teaching two classes a day, six days a week. There are lots of arguments for and against this type of arrangement, but my only point would be this: whatever the arrangement is, make sure you’re comfortable with it. If remuneration is being offered, find out if it is a fixed salary, if you’re being paid per class or if you get paid a certain amount per student. While you are discussing issues related to pay, find out if there are other opportunities for you to generate some income through private lessons, workshops, seminars and so on.

6. What else is part of the package?

Will accommodations be provided? Is it a shared room or will you get your own space? Is the accommodation on-site or elsewhere? Are your meals provided or will you be given a per diem? What about your stinky, sweaty yoga clothes – will laundry be taken care of or will you have to potentially hand wash your leggings in the shower?



7. What do you really know about your potential future employer?

Doing your due diligence for a yoga-related job is the same as applying for any other job: what do you know about your employer? Find out what to expect by speaking directly to who you will work with via e-mail and Skype, ask to speak with other teachers who are currently working there and also see if you can get in touch with any former teachers to find out what their experience was like.

8. Insurance

Do you need liability insurance? In my experience, the concept of liability insurance for yoga teachers has not really caught on in many parts of Asia, but it is essential in many parts of the U.S. and Europe. It’s always better to find out if where you are looking to work has you covered on that front and whether students are asked to sign a waiver.

9. Confirmation of your job

If possible, ask for a confirmation of your job or work trade in writing; it should include your start/finish date, number of classes you will teach per week, remuneration and so on. While these may not always be enforceable, it gives a valuable opportunity to get everyone on the same page. The last thing you want to happen is to have a different start date in mind or god forbid, book nonrefundable plane tickets for a job that isn’t 110% confirmed.

The experience of traveling abroad to teach yoga can be extremely rewarding: I met some truly wonderful people, continued to work on my teaching skills, chased a few waterfalls and explored a part of the world I otherwise probably wouldn’t have visited. But here are the key takeaways: be clear on what you’re hoping to get out of the experience, and know exactly what you’re signing up for. What are some other things you would encourage teachers to consider before they travel abroad to teach yoga? Share your thoughts below in the comments section!




Florence is a wanderlusting yogi who calls Hong Kong home, but these days you can find her at Yogawinetravel.com and on Instagram where she writes and shares photos from her yoga journey and travels around the world.

11 replies
  1. Stephanie Derkowski
    Stephanie Derkowski says:

    Great advice, Florence! I will surely ask these questions as I apply for my next teaching job on Yoga Trade. From my experience teaching in Central America for the past three months, I’ve learned a lesson to not sell yourself short:

    As I’m hopping around from town to country, I’m finding my yoga jobs sometimes by just asking places. Be upfront with what you want, and don’t be afraid to say no if they don’t give you a fair opportunity. It’s better to be upfront and at ease with what you’re being paid, rather than be content with being taken advantage of. Sometimes a bed to sleep and free breakfast is not enough! Teaching yoga is a big investment, and our expertise should be compensated.

    Thanks for sharing your words, namaste!

  2. Kaila Varano
    Kaila Varano says:

    Thank you for the heads up! I am only 21 years old and an aspiring traveling yogi. Although my ambitions are high and I won’t let anything get in my way, I am also very young, naive and inexperienced. Your article made me think of things I would have overlooked and probably would have lead to bumps in the road! You are a lifesaver and an inspiration! If you can do it, so can I! <3

  3. anna doherty
    anna doherty says:

    A really useful article. It is so important that everyone is clear from the beginning what the job requires and what rewards to expect. Otherwise it becomes ‘Slave trade’, not ‘Yoga trade’…I have found the following points important to clarify in writing at the start:

    Time boundaries – times of lessons, hours, meetings, other expectations…
    Types of acommodation (e.g.when you are told you are ‘sharing a room’…it may be a mixed dorm?)
    Opportunities to earn money
    End date – promises can be made that cannot be honoured…this can lead to a dead end and expensive travel costs, let alone low morale, especially if decisions are made abruptly with 5 minute warning…inexperienced managers can over-book staff…you have no rights in this regard and may be told to leave if you complain.
    A time to re-negotiate terms e.g after two weeks to ensure clarity
    Food available – e.g. do they provide vegan food or will you be expected to provide it yourself and pay for it?
    Laundry – yes…
    Will you be allowed to take on private clients and if so will they expect a percentage cut? Or will they see this as competition?
    What if you are sick?
    Although you may only teach two lessons a day, you may still need a day off every week…this is a reasonable request
    What does ‘socialising with guests’ really mean? Does it mean being available 24/7 when people are sick etc?

    We are on our own overseas and can spend alot of money travelling to exotic places only to find that the conditions we face become untenable after a few weeks. Perhaps more needs to be written about this? I don’t think expecting to have basic work conditions met respectfully is about having a negative attitude – in the long run it can lead to a more harmonious working relationship. Ensuring we have rights is important. We invest allot in becoming yoga instructors. I believe this needs to be respected and there needs to be a forum to voice concerns. People can be afraid to speak out for fear of being ‘angry’ or ‘obstructive’ rather than full of ‘loving kindness’…. This is a 2 dimensional view of what yoga is about. Yoga is about being strong and positive. We cannot be that if we feel undermined as professionals.

  4. jerry mulhall
    jerry mulhall says:

    thanks for the article, plenty of small stuff to consider. I recently retired from the airline industry and can finally focus on teaching yoga…anywhere in the world!. I feel blessed to have yoga and the ability to travel in my life. I’ve been “restricted” by my former career, left to teach 2 or 3 weekly classes locally, after work! I am excited and looking to explore the opportunities to teach and travel. Appreciate any further advice or guidance. Namaste

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