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5 Ways My Yoga Trade Experience Made Me a Better Yoga Teacher

One of the most rewarding, fulfilling, and altering experiences I have had in my journey as a yoga teacher has been the time I spent teaching abroad. For years I dreamed of the opportunity to combine my two favorite things: travel and yoga. This past year I made my dreams into a reality, thanks to a platform called Yoga Trade. In reflection, my time spent teaching abroad was one of the most influential and expanding experiences. It was a catalyst for me to become the teacher I am today. Here are 5 ways my Yoga Trade experience offered me the space to flourish and grow.

Practicing with Yoga Teachers from Different Backgrounds

There are many travel destinations all over the world that offer a strong yoga community. These communities are filled with yoga teachers and practitioners from all different countries, lineages, languages, etc. Each teacher came from a different training or framework. This allowed me to look at yoga from new angles, to hear different backgrounds of connection to this practice, and to open me up to other dogmas.

I live and teach in an average American city. I feel there is little diversity within the yoga community. Most people have been trained between the same few studios, under the same teachers, and practice within the same circles. Being able to get out of my bubble expanded my relationship and understanding of yoga.

Freedom to Try New Things

Teaching yoga in a tourist location made for an influx of students everyday. There were only a few people in the area that came regularly to my classes. Most of the students were on holiday, therefore they were only in that location for a few days. This gave me the chance to constantly try something new. I found when teaching in a hometown studio you seem to get the same clientele. It can sometimes feel like they have more rigid expectations and ideas of what your teaching style offers. Tourists that come to class are looking for an experience and probably do not have any preconceived ideas of what you offer. You can try out different breathing techniques, cueing, meditation styles that you may not normally have the confidence to try in your home teaching spot. I think we grow the most from those times when we feel uncomfortable and go for something new. If you fall flat on your face chances are those students may be moving onto the new destination the next day anyway. Learn from your mistakes, recalibrate, and keep going.

More Time to Work on Your Craft

Many yoga teachers can relate on the desire to want to have more time to spend in our own sadhana or improving our teaching techniques. In Western culture, it can be challenging to financially support ourselves while only teaching yoga. We juggle many different jobs or roles to make it all work, and the energy left over can go into our personal growth and practice. My Yoga Trade gig allowed me to financially support myself while abroad so I could shift all my attention to yoga.

In my experience I was receiving accommodation for free and a little money per class. This money was enough to feed me and indulge every once in awhile. I was actually able to slow down and focus on just teaching yoga. My list of responsibilities abroad greatly diminished. I wasn’t constantly pulled in so many places, so I had extensive time to spend becoming a better student and teacher.

Exposure to New Styles of Yoga and Modalities Healing

Living in a diverse yoga community creates a wide range of spirituality offerings, workshops, lineages of yoga, modalities of healing, etc. People from all over the world sharing their personal knowledge, truth, and practice. There is ample opportunity to try something you have never even heard of before. From these experiences you will gain a more open heart and mind. You may even find your new calling.

Teaching People from Different Cultures

As a yoga teacher, you probably can relate what works for you at one studio, may not work for you in another. We are constantly working to give our best offerings, but even in your hometown it can be different based on age, demographics, locations, etc. Teaching people from different cultures can be another learning curve. Will your cueing make sense to someone who’s second language is English? How can you get really clear and intentional with your message so a wide range of people can receive it? Being able to work through these types of questions and scenarios only sharpens your teaching skills and makes you more accessible to a wider range of people.

 

 

 

Colleen is a 500RYT, lifestyle blogger, wellness warrior, jetsetter, bohemian fashionista and soul searcher. She has traveled to 37 different countries and has studied or taught yoga in 8 of them. She is always looking for a new adventure, a challenge for personal growth, and a hip outfit. You can find her at www.mindbodycolleen.com or IG: @mindbodycolleen

Work Trade, Travel and Yoga

Work Trade is an incredible way to experience the world. Whether you head off to an exotic destination, or simply make a new connection in place closer to home, you are opening up to growth. It can be a chance to get a little (or a lot) out of your comfort zone and explore your edges both externally and internally, especially through the lens of a yoga practitioner.

There are really practical reasons to explore volunteering, work trade and paid positions to extend the length of a trip as well as open access to a variety of destinations. Plus work trade is also an incredible opportunity to delve deep into your yoga practice, to gain new lessons and reflections through selfless service, karma yoga and mindfulness. It’s one thing to visit a place as a traveler, tourist, an outsider of some sort; and it is very different to actually slow down, spend time and actually “be” in a place.

Expand your horizons

Meet people from different parts of the world, different countries, and a variety of cultures. This exposure leads to improving your social skills, and the ability to speak and connect with strangers. You’ll grow as an individual, learn many new things as well as form some very genuine bonds with these new friends.

Acquire experience in the field

Taking advantage of opportunities to do work trade can really boost your confidence and ease the performance pressure if you’re newer, or brand new, to your field. Learning and growing while actually doing the work is incredibly valuable, it equates to on-the-job-training. This adds a great deal to your career and life path with expertise and a great set of skills.

Get out of your bubble

Make new contacts. See what else is out there, network and mingle with new faces and places. It is a wonderful thing to feel supported and connected in a community, and it is equally fantastic to go out into the world and discover community everywhere. You will be inspired by the people you meet, and that stimulates genuine energy and creativity in your life. You might find yourself surprised at the new interests, skill sets and influences that are discovered along the way, and you will no doubt meet people that will become part of your lifelong story.

Better sense of accomplishment

One thing about volunteering is you often find yourself liberated to do the best that you can, and not to overthink, or add anxiety to your work. There is a great sense of contributing, and that is one of the greatest motivators. It leads to job satisfaction and pride in your work in a way that allows the work to flow through you, unencumbered.

Only way to do it is in person

When you stay somewhere long enough to get to know your surroundings, and can tap into a sense of actually living there, your perspective changes. You begin to see some of the same people daily and form relationships, as well as have the opportunity to get to know the local food, culture and landscapes. It feels more intimate to be a part of a place rather than to only pass through. And you’ll often find yourself having actual free time to live life, rather than feeling caught in the intensity of busy-ness and daily grind of your normal routines and stressors.

As you take advantage of evolving, growing and receiving wisdom from opening up it shapes your yoga practice. Being immersed in the present moment, fostering the ability to pay attention, concentrate and develop more awareness all add incredible fuel for igniting your yoga fires! This can manifest in witnessing both the challenge, and liberation, of shedding old layers of thought, habits, and patterns – which is priceless. What an incredible call to practice yoga on the daily? Plus you get to give back a little piece of your heart and soul in the exchange, and receive direct experience in the art of karma yoga. Karma yoga is living your life as your path. Open up to your life as a spiritual being having a human experience – ALL OVER THE WORLD!

Photography by: Lanny Headrick

 

 

Aimee Joy Nitzberg has been an avid lover of yoga since her first classes back in Boulder, CO in 2000. She knew she had a problem when she was skipping out of work to go to yoga class. She decided to plunge in, quit her job and set off on an incredible adventure which has included daily practice and working full-time in the yoga field for almost 20 years.  This opened up great opportunities to study with extraordinary, masterful teachers and to travel around the world.  She loves sharing yoga as a way of serving and honoring the grace of all the gifts that she has received, and as one of her favorite ways to connect and share with others. Currently, she resides in South Lake Tahoe with her mountain man and spends as much time outdoors as possible with their yogi doggie.

Yoga Trade in the Maldives: Finding Freedom at Sea

In May and June 2018, my partner and I went on a ‘Yoga Trade’ as a surf guide / yoga instructor duo to the island of Himmafushi in the Maldives. A dream-like place of wonder where the waves peel perfectly off a right-hand reef break above crystalline seas teeming with life, just steps from shore. Where guests travel across the world to dive with giant manta rays and black-tip sharks. And where Islamic tradition is shrouded in a thick cultural barrier, virtually inaccessible to a Western-bred feminist like me.

It was a world of paradox I found myself slipping serendipitously into. Where I’d begrudging cover my arms, chest and legs to brave the 200-meter walk – barefoot above soft, crushed-coral white sand – to the locally owned mini-mart for a sweet mid-afternoon snack. Only an hour or so before hopping off the boat in my teeny bikini, scoring some of the best waves of my 12-year surfing life, nearly naked to the sky; no qualms, no questions.

Where foreign visitors can shed their sarongs on a patch of sand designated ‘Bikini Beach’ and can only access alcohol aboard boats with liquor permits or resorts on other islands with special tourism licenses. Where most men would not shake my hand and young local girls would sneak over to our pool and dare a dip in their long pants and long sleeves, before their dad showed up, both timid and angry. Where the local surfer boys reminded one another not to hit on me because I was already someone else’s property.

And where I’d lead the guests at our adopted surf and yoga villa in a guttural round of Sanskrit mantra, just as the sunset prayer began to bellow from the speakers of the mosque. When time stood still in an incommensurable reverence of difference, across cultural lines, spiritual constructs, sun-kissed skin and silken shroud. Despite the distinction in our choice of song, I loved those impeccable moments of simultaneous prayer, mingling among the seaward breeze, mantra colliding with Quran in an otherwise impossible skyspace where I imagined the spectrum of god(s) and goddess(es) smiling joyfully from the heavens, shaking their heads at the perfect conundrum that was my task as yoga teacher and US-born, Costa Rican-bred surfer girl stuck smack-dab in the middle of an Islamic island nation, standing somehow steadfast in her integrity at the heart of the Indian Ocean.

And I’ll be honest – I struggled, most days, with how to be woman in that magical island world.

I mean, look. I’m a Western-born Jewish white girl, freedom-loving feminist, practically sensitive to cultural nuance, yet unabashedly thin-skinned beneath the blazing sun of gender inequality, repression, and injustice – anytime, anywhere, and however veiled by the social dictates accepted by most, even when they’re socio-historically determined by only men and institutionalized in religion and other forms of under-the-radar patriarchy. Add in my 16 years of yoga practice and deep regard for the yogic traditions, and you’d think it was a miracle I didn’t collapse into a mid-life identity crisis right there on the beach, 11,000 miles from my home.

Most of the time, despite myself, when I walked the white-sandy streets of town, I chose to follow the rules, keep a low profile, hide my skin in earth-length skirts and long sleeves, out of respect for a people I knew nothing about in a place I was only passing through. That whole ‘when in Rome’ thing. And truly, I was glad, and even honored, to do it – like an (uninvited) guest in some else’s grandmother’s home.

In reflection, there are parts of that experience I find beautiful, and even empowering. I appreciated that men didn’t ogle or eye-fuck or cat-call at will. A far cry from the soul-crippling streets I frequent in Central America. And I liked that the women would say hi to me when I took their customs seriously. I acknowledge the purity in human interaction where booze and drugs and boobs and butts are not precursors for self-expression or casual conversation. And I liked that both men and women looked me in the eye without the underlying misogynistic pretext of competition, domination or sexual objectification.

But I’ll be real in admitting that wearing long sleeves and long skirts in that heat was a hassle, and I chose to stay inside the villa bubble in my booty shorts on more than one occasion, rather than suit up at noon and sweat my skin off just to feel a little bit free from too many chastising eyes on me. And that didn’t feel empowering at all. In fact, it felt a little like prison in my skin.

In the beautifully sticky, blessedly uncomfortable space I lived for two months in the Maldives between cultural respect and my personal brand of feminist freedom, I found an everyday sense of solace, and soul-felt gratitude, in my home-away-from-home, the sea. Where I could surf as naked to the sky as I wished to be. Not because I wanted to feel sexy, but because – like it or not – my skin against the breeze is my definition of free.

(Cover photo by Lila Koan. Story photos by Pedro Uribe.)

 


Tara Ruttenberg is a writer by trade, surfer by passion, yogini by maternal ancestry and scholar-activist in sustainable tourism, by dharma. Tara‘s work explores alternatives to development in coastal tourism destinations to promote human wellbeing in harmony with nature. She created Tarantula Surf as a platform for authentic story-sharing and engaging with new social paradigms for a more beautiful world. Tara’s work has been featured in books like the Critical Surf Studies Reader and the Routledge Handbook of Latin American Development, at gatherings including Envision Festival, ECHO, Surf + Social Good, Yoga Trade’s Sustainable Living Retreat, and the Institute for Women Surfers, as well as in print with Elephant Journal, The Huffington Post, The Inertia, Sunshine Surf Girls, Yoga Trade, 7 Mares, and Desert Jewels. A nomad by nature, Tara lives most of the time in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, where she leads surfing, yoga and writing retreats for women.

Join Tara for Immersion 2019: Surf + Yoga + Writing Retreat for Women this March in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, ideal for aspiring writers ready to share your stories with the world; and at Yoga Trade’s Deep Ecology of Wellness in April, where she will be offering workshops on sustainable yoga travel and journaling as a practice of personal transformation.
Immersion retreat link: www.tarantulasurf.com/surf-trips-retreats

How Every Yoga Teacher Can Benefit From a Permaculture Design Course

As a student and teacher of yoga, I am consistently  called to continuing education. This January, I completed a Permaculture Design Course at Punta Mona: A Center for Regenerative Design and Botanical Studies. It is situated in a unique and remote location where the rainforest meets the Caribbean sea in Costa Rica. The property has one of the largest collections of useful plants in the country and is a beautiful place to deeply connect with nature. Besides the center and facilitators being top quality, there are also these draws: daily yoga classes, the ocean front location, and the fact it’s called “The land of freedom!”

What is Permaculture?

“Permaculture is the art of designing beneficial relationships.”  -Starhawk

“Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems.”   -Wikipedia

We can create and nurture beneficial relationships many places in our lives; in our gardens, our home design, our community, our businesses, on our yoga mats, etc. Permaculture can be applied to all aspects of our lives and society. It teaches us to observe patterns so we can design our lives with a holistic mind set and return back to the basics and live simply.

Permaculture helps us gain practical life tools to see the land as a canvas for opportunity and to see the Earth with fresh eyes. Practicing this philosophy is a great step in an important life long journey to see the world in a new way.

Permaculture Ethics:

Earth Care: Cultivating a deep respect for nature.

People Care: Self care for ourselves and others.

Future Care: Living with the intention to create a positive legacy.

Fair Share: Letting go of the competitive mind set and thinking about ‘co-opertition’.

The basic curriculum in the course includes class topics such as; ethics, principles, design, soil health, water strategies, plants, energy, earth works, and social systems.

How Permaculture Compliments a Yoga Practice:

-Ignites progressive thinking and regenerative design.

-Empowers leadership and positive action.

-Encourages creative problem solving. “The problem is the solution.”

-Inspires a return to the basics. Simple living.

-Builds resiliency practices.

Participating in a Permaculture Design Course creates space for amazing potential to birth new projects and collaborations. It is a wonderful place to build lifelong friendships that have optimisitc solution based perspectives.

Grow. Expand. Take Action.

Create your guild!

Deepen your practice as a student and a teacher by blending Permacutlure Design into your life on and off the mat.

Visit this educational paradise!

Punta Mona:

puntamona.org

FB: puntamonacenter

IG: @puntamona

 

 

 

Erica Hartnick grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California, and enjoys all things wild and free. She teaches nature inspired yoga and leads mindful adventures in California and Costa Rica. She gets excited about; LEARNING, intense weather, glassy ocean peaks, pillows of fresh powder snow, crystal clear water, positive people, cultural travel, thriving vegetable gardens, fresh mint chip ice cream, nature’s glory, LIVING YOGA, and connecting with others. She is passionate about the collaboration with friends that led to the creation of Yoga Trade, and is devoted to connecting the yoga community with infinite opportunities!

 

Yoga Scholarship Giveaway

***UPDATE, January 5, 2018***

Thank you ALL so much for participating and sharing your yoga and wellness trades around the world.

We have picked the winner at random today and the lucky human is…..

Chantal Ashley

@chantalashley

Congratulations Chantal!!!

You have won a $1,200 Scholarship to continue your education at Yandara Yoga Institute!

Keep shining everyone. Be inspired, yearn to learn, dream big, and share your gift that is YOU! Much love from the Yoga Trade fam!

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Yoga Trade is excited to announce our $1,200 Yoga Scholarship Giveaway!

One lucky member will receive a $1,200 Scholarship to put toward furthering yoga education at Yandara Yoga Institute (based out of Baja, Mexico).

This Scholarship can be applied to any of Yandara’s Teacher Trainings at any of their locations (they offer Yoga Alliance certified 200 hour trainings and 300 hour trainings). The Scholarship may also go toward any of their Continuing Education weeks which currently include; Life Coach Training, Meditation & Kundalini, Yin/Restorative & Bhakti, and Vision Quest. It is part of our mission to inspire yoga teachers and wellness professionals to continue to learn and become masters within their trade. We would like to say a huge THANK YOU to this community and for all the support from around the world.

 

 

HOW TO ENTER:

(Please read directions carefully, it’s a 3 step process)

1. You must be a Yoga Trade member. (If you are not currently a member, you can sign up at yogatrade.com)

2. To enter, log into your Yoga Trade account and LEAVE A REPLY (post comment) below at the end of this blog post. In the comment, state how you feel being part of the Yoga Trade community is beneficial, or how the Scholarship will benefit you as well as other people. Within your comment, feel free to also link to one of your favorite Yoga Trade StoriesPhotos, or your own articles or videos about Yoga Trade Experiences.

3. Give us a like on our Facebook page (facebook.com/yogatrade), and share about this GIVEAWAY on at least one social media platform of your choice (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest).

That’s it. You’re Entered!

We are SUPER GRATEFUL for all of you. Thank you for contributing to this flourishing community. We also want to send a big HEART HUG and THANK YOU to the Yandara Family for sharing their wisdom and teachings through the years. Yandara is one of the seeds that grew to spark the creation of Yoga Trade!

The WINNER will be chosen at random (random.org) and will be announced on January 5th, 2018.

*Only ONE entry allowed per person. You must be a real human to enter. The giveaway is only valid for persons age 18 and above. The Scholarship must be used within 2 years from when it is received. The Scholarship is transferable to another person if winner is unable to use. Scholarship is not redeemable for cash. 

 

5 Reasons to Teach Yoga for Free

Cover Photo: Shaunte Ditmar Photography

The new year is in full force and instead of adding any more weight to the unpredictable future, maybe introducing a softer approach to our world view could create some lasting ripple effects.

As the world seems to be getting smaller, faster, and cloudier, at the same time, more dreams are coming true; love is forever being found, and the possibilities of a change in consciousness on a global scale is becoming a reality — Instead of focusing on things that separate, we must look outside of the norm, think for ourselves, and strive for a different set of values if we are going to be able to come out of this era of uncertainty and thrive.

Simply put, to teach yoga for free is GOOD. To do anything for free is good. But as a viable construct of our society it becomes a commodity and therefore;

1) To teach yoga for free or within an exchange system is a little piece of CHANGE in SOCIETY that we’ve got our hands on.

A healthy wide-spread yoga practice is a veritable KEY to opening the door to less reliance on the systems that separate and discourage people. You scratch my back I scratch yours. The more we incorporate this into our communities the more networking we can have outside of stereotypes and economic standing. Going against the grain and being a free thinking individual will help bridge the gap in ways unimaginable.

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2) Teaching a free class, or pushing our own boundaries and maybe traveling to a different country to teach yoga, we consciously OPEN ourselves up to an abundance of new possibilities.

You teach, you travel, you learn; and the whole world becomes your oyster. The pearl of who you want to be emerges. Stepping into the direction of service, you ultimately free yourself from value restrictions and the flow of goodness cascades into all corners of your life. You never know who might enter your class, or what opportunities may arise.

The universe always provides…

3) Teaching yoga classes literally ADDS PEACE to the world–teaching classes for free reaches the many individuals who haven’t tried yoga yet or aren’t willing to pay for a class.

You don’t need to watch the news or read the paper to know that (even in regards to your own mind), peace is needed.

Pranic breathing, literally increases your AWARENESS of yourself, and your own personal awareness is where peace resides. To share the possibility of awareness for others in a group setting is the seed to growing the PEACE in the world.

4) Teaching a free class a week (even just once in your life) or taking a trip to somewhere through a yoga teaching exchange network is a way to LEARN and expand in new ways.

Being a teacher doesn’t take away the fact that you are forever a student in the classroom of the world, and in every direction we have a lesson to learn. To accept and give freely in an exchange outside of monetary currency allows a free form energy circulation, softly opening yourself up to new patterns, new traction; humility. You discover the strength of SERVICE which as a tenet of yoga philosophy, takes your tangible yoga practice to a higher level.

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5) Free yoga and exchanging classes can CREATE a NETWORK of other wellness practices that are not reliant on the monetary exchange.

If, as a community, we collectively are able to rely on our knowledge and bring our talents to the table, we are diversifying and enriching our ability to prevent illness and stimulate the effectiveness of alternative medicines. Through herbalism, chiropractic adjustments, massage, home services and even home-grown goods, the possibilities through bartering is unlimited.

These ideas are not farfetched or utopian. We are justly apt to creatively bend deeper into characteristics that we want to see emulated in society. The more we work together in a constructive way the more we can actually see changes in the world. The horrors of greed need not reach your inner sanctuary of well-being. Peace and tranquility are knocking at the entire neighborhood’s doorsteps and our limitless existence is unfolding right before our very eyes. Humans as a whole are no-doubt evolving, let the evolution include your dreams and may your dreams become reality.

Let the broken systems of society be mended by the strength of the systems that we know have worked for thousands of years.

 

 

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Abigail Tirabassi: writer, dreamer, believer, artist, ocean lover, finding joy daily.

IG: @scrambby

Love Teaching Yoga

I met Michelle Linane at the Yoga Expo in Santa Clara last summer. Her passion for yoga, business, and life is contagious. We connected right away as we both are devoted to creating more resources for the growing yoga teacher community. Michelle is the Founder of Love Teaching Yoga, a website with an intention to empower yoga teachers – to help them spread the light of yoga in an insightful and informed manner. Here we catch up with Michelle as she shares her story, thoughts, and inspirations. Thanks for shining bright Michelle!!!

Tell us briefly about your yoga background…

 

My journey with yoga began in 2004, when I took my first yoga class, and I’ll admit, I didn’t care for it much at first. However, over the years yoga continued to call my name and I practiced intermittently until I feel in love with it almost 8 years later. Yoga became my saving grace during a time of chaos in my life and it’s forever changed me. One day in early 2013, I woke up to voice that said I had to open a donation-based yoga studio, and I had no choice but to follow it. A few short months later, I opened the doors to Be The Change Yoga & Wellness in San Jose, California.

 

Being that I was not a yoga teacher at the time, my path of being a studio owner was very different than most. I didn’t have a following or a community of teacher friends, so I had to build the studio completely from scratch. I also funded the studio on my own dime, so there wasn’t money for fancy marketing, and I had to boot-strap it with guerilla marketing strategies. I immediately began to flyer at a nearby university, which then lead to private classes for sororities, free classes on the student union lawn, and weekly classes for the baseball team. I regularly had a booth at our local farmers’ market where I raffled off free yoga and collected email signups. I developed a corporate yoga program and hustled my booty off to acquire contracts with local businesses. I even partnered with the city of San Jose to bring community classes to a nearby park in the summers, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. My point, however, is that through this process I learned a great deal about marketing, building community partnerships, and what it takes to thrive in the yoga business. I also learned that you don’t need a studio to bring yoga to your community. In fact, getting outside the studio often has a greater impact as we are more adept to meet people where they are in life (i.e. at home, work, parks, schools, public events, groups and clubs, health fairs, hospitals, online, etc.) and make yoga more accessible.

 

 

What sparked the idea to create the Love Teaching Yoga website?

 

Well, I didn’t mention this in my background story, but I eventually took a 200 hour yoga teacher training with Mark Stephens at Santa Cruz Yoga. Upon completion of the training, my life pulled me in another direction in both my yoga career and personal life. I moved out of the San Francisco Bay Area and transferred ownership of the studio to one of our amazing instructors. Again, I heard a voice of inspiration that I couldn’t deny. Over the years, I had witnessed too many teachers struggle to: pay the bills doing what they love, discover their authentic voice, figure out how to teach more than asana classes, and find accessible/affordable continuing education. I also really missed the schooling and comradery of yoga teacher training, as many teachers do after they finish.

 

Because I had already found myself in positions of mentorship based on my business experience, I began to realize I had something unique to offer teachers that was very much needed. The voice in my heart guided me to create something that would essentially pick up where teacher trainings leave off, providing continued support and education in all aspects of teaching yoga (the art, science AND business of teaching yoga).

 

Reflecting on what I had learned about teaching yoga outside the studio, I knew Love Teaching Yoga didn’t need a brick and mortar space, and it would take the shape of digital guides, books, a podcast, online courses, workshops, coaching and more. It had to be accessible and affordable, which enables me to meet teachers where they are in life and their careers. So, I set to work and have been pouring my heart and soul into this for almost two years now.

michelle4

 

Why do you think so many people are becoming yoga teachers?

 

There’s a variety of factors contributing to the influx of teachers. The first being that simply more people are practicing yoga, which leads to more people who fall in love with it and want share the practice with others by teaching. The growing popularity of yoga also brings and increased need for teachers. Yoga teacher trainings are also great sources of revenue for both studios and teachers, so naturally, there’s a push there to get more yogis enrolled. Additionally, many people have been looking for supplemental income over the years, and have turned to yoga as means of helping others while helping their monthly bills. I should also add, I think there’s an element of trendiness too, sometimes the media paints it as a very glamorous and blissful profession, so many teachers are blindsided by reality of the challenges that exist within it.

 

What are some of the challenges you feel new yoga teachers face today?

 

My answer to this question relates directly to that of the previous question. Many people enter a teacher training without knowing the realities of the profession- blissfully unaware of the low pay, inconsistent and demanding hours (mornings, nights and weekends), growing competition for prime-time classes in studios, and the challenge of finding the time and energy for one’s personal practice. Not to mention the physical and emotional tolls, such as popping in and out of poses to demo and compassion fatigue. And, it’s not only facing this reality that new teachers struggle with, but once they realize it, then it’s even more of a challenge to figure out how to carry on teaching, despite these challenges.

 

Of course there are other challenges too, like understanding their employment status (independent contractor vs. employee), paying their income taxes as a self-employed yoga teacher, finding an insurance policy, and how to gain experience when studios won’t hire you without experience. Without support and advice from experienced teachers and other professionals, these challenges can easily defeat any teacher- which is why I’m here to help through my work with Love Teaching Yoga. I believe in the power of yoga to help heal this world, and I don’t want anyone to veer from the path of teacher because they needed help navigating the terrain.

 

How do you feel about the concept of mixing business and yoga?

 

I think business and yoga are like yin and yang- seemingly opposing forces that are interconnected and complimentary. Like I said, I deeply believe in the power of yoga to help heal this world, which means the wisdom has to be brought to the masses, and that takes some business know-how. An unfortunate side-effect of bringing anything to the masses is that some will take advantage of it for their own greedy, capital gain. Sadly, this is happening in yoga and part of the reason mixing business and yoga gets a bad rap. However, doing business doesn’t have to be aggressive and greedy, and we can operate our yoga businesses according to the yogic principals of honesty and ahimsa.

 

The thing is, we’re experiencing a shift in modern yoga. Where the ancient practice was once a school of thought or tradition handed down through scriptures and spiritual teachings, the form of yoga today takes a much different shape today. While it remains true, that at the heart of we are teaching is transformation from within, we live in societies that reflect a different way of life than the ancient teachers of the past. We have to earn an income through our work, whether that’s teaching yoga or working an office job.

 

Think of it like putting on your oxygen mask before assisting others. If you don’t put your mask on first (i.e. earn a viable living to support yourself), you won’t be as apt to help all those people who need you, because you’ll have to spend 40 hours a week at another job that pays your bills. Being business-savvy is what helps keep modern yoga teachers in the game, you can’t survive these days off simply being a great teacher. We have TONS of great teachers. Developing some business skills will help any teacher maximize their time and talent to make a bigger impact on the world.

“Business skills are the missing ingredients to on-going success for many teachers. Passion without a plan, without action, and without hard work won’t produce your dream career. Lucky for you, passion isn’t something you can learn, but business is.”

– The Thriving Yoga Teacher: How To Create A Sustainable Career Doing What You Love

Do you know many full time yoga teachers who are sustaining themselves just by teaching, or do most teachers have other jobs or businesses that supplement?

 

I actually know quite a few teachers who earn a full-time income from teaching yoga. However, they currently are not the majority, as the average teacher has at least one other job. BUT, I’m happy to say the scales are shifting as more teachers develop the skills it takes to thrive.

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Was “The Thriving Yoga Teacher: How To Create A Sustainable Career Doing What You Love” your first book? Can you tell us a little bit about the process of writing it?

 

I’d say yes, it’s my first book in the traditional meaning, but I also wrote a guidebook to incomes taxes for yoga teachers in 2015 (more info here). The guidebook is only available in digital form and is much shorter, so it took a lot less time and energy. To my surprise, writing The Thriving Yoga Teacher turned out to be an arduous process.

 

It began like most creative endeavors, full of ideas and motivation. Like writing out a sequence, I first started with my intention. Why was I writing this book and what did I want teachers to gain from it? This came naturally and was very inspiring. I knew I wanted to incorporate real life stories from a variety of teachers, so the second phase was about conducting interviews, which was also super fun. The challenges started to arise once I had to unravel my spaghetti bowl full of ideas and research, and map out an outline that would make sense to a teacher at any stage of their career. Once I got that mess sorted out, the process got easier again and I eagerly began writing the actual content. Naturally, I spent the most time in this phase, regularly clocking 12 hours a day on my laptop. By the end, my body was a wreck and I was so happy to wrap up the writing. I guess what I’m getting at is, like most things in life, the energy ebbed and flowed. There were times I loved it, and times I hated it. There were moments I second guessed myself mixed with moments of certainty. Nevertheless, I ventured on and today I can say it’s helping hundreds of teachers around the globe.

 

What are your definitions of ‘THRIVING’ and ‘SUSTAINABLE’?

 

The common definition of thrive is to grow vigorously, but when referencing a teacher’s career, I use the word thrive to mean flourish. It would be a disservice to teachers, if I simply focused on rapid growth. My intention is for teachers to flourish and experience luscious growth- growth that is continuous, steady and rich with intention, purpose and dharma. A thriving yoga teacher doesn’t merely scrape by, but experiences wealth of abundance in all aspects of their career. In a similar sense, I use the word sustainable to represent that continuous and steady growth that is manageable, yet prosperous for a lifetime.

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If you could inspire all new yoga teachers with one sentence, what would it be?

 

In the wise words of a courageous little fish Dori, “just keep swimming”.

 

Anything else you would like to share?

 

Ask for help, and know that you don’t have to do this alone. Build a support system of teachers around you in-person and online. Start a teacher meetup and join teacher Facebook groups. Explore the wide range of resources at your fingertips to support your growth and development, such as Love Teaching Yoga. Find a mentor or coach who can help keep you on track and share insight beyond your knowledge.

And have courage- which doesn’t mean be fearless. Being courageous means choosing to act even in the presence of fear. While the advice of myself and others is a tremendous resource, it still comes down to you. No one has a magic formula that will create your ultimate dream career teaching yoga. You have to find the courage within to put yourself out there and do the work. This world needs healing, and this world needs you.

 

 

 

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Michelle Linane is a yoga lover, student and teacher. Over the years, her love for yoga has transformed into a deep passion for helping fellow teachers. She’s the author of The Thriving Yoga Teacher: How To Create A Sustainable Career Doing What You Love, the host of the Love Teaching Yoga Podcast and the creator of the Love Teaching Yoga website, a growing library of online resources to help yoga teachers refine their skills and build their careers. She’s also the founder of Be The Change Yoga & Wellness, a donation-based studio in California. With a strong community focus, Michelle took yoga outside the studio walls and brought yoga programs to local parks, schools and businesses. Michelle wholeheartedly believes in these words from Robert John Meehan, “The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration, our growth would be limited to our own perspective.”

6 Steps to Land a Yoga Job Overseas

It can be nerve-wracking applying for an exotic yoga teaching job. It can also be kind of boring, monotonous and confusing. For me, the first Yoga Trade application process was filled with thoughts like these: “Well… I’ve only been teaching for a year, am I qualified?” “I’m sure there are so many people who want to apply. Is it even worth it?” “On the other hand, maybe nobody wants to teach in Costa Rica this year. I should probably just be super casual about it… Right?” Maybe you feel the same.

Well, whether you’re full of optimism or feel like you don’t stand a chance, here are 6 simple steps that can help you land a yoga job overseas.

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams…”

1. Choose wisely

You can’t have your dream job if you aren’t a little bit selective. Finding an intention for your time abroad will help you narrow things down. What is your aim? Is it to serve? Maybe, you want to work at an eco lodge associated with an animal rescue. Do you want to focus on living a more sustainable life? A permaculture resort and farm could be a great place for you to learn more. Do you just want a break, solace, refuge and spiritual reboot? Perhaps, you should look into a quiet retreat center with vegetarian food and daily meditations. This intention will carry you through all of the decisions you make. So, find your cushion, sit down, close your eyes, breathe deep and get clear.

 

2. Express yourself with a vision board

It all starts by giving the person on the other end of the computer screen a clear and personal view of the amazing you. Think back on the intention you set above. Pick 3-8 images that visually express your vibe along with the intention for your time abroad. These can be anything. Use patterns, places, faces, art, etc. Then, find some words to describe yourself(i.e. fun, artsy, silly, spiritual, calm). Lastly, pick 3 colors repeated in the imagery above. You can print images out and pin them to your wall or create a digital collage. While this may seem arbitrary at first, it’s so important for the look and feel of your brand. If you don’t decide what your aesthetic is, Microsoft Word will decide it for you and no one wants that.

Below is an example of a vision board that I created for my most recent trip to Costa Rica. The words I used were service, peace and adventure.

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3. Turn those images into an awesome resume

A clear, concise and beautiful resume is key for showcasing all you have to offer. To turn your brand into a resume, I recommend using a site called Canva for simple and eye-catching designs. Check out their Resume Guide, to start designing your resume. The key is customizing all of the info and styles to fit your look. Maybe the words you used above were fun, silly, and simple. To visually translate these words, you might want to pick two fonts, a standard like Helvetica for the body and a more whimsical font for your headlines. You could change each headline to be one of your brand colors or use colorful shapes to outline your headings. Keep playing until you’re happy with the result.

It’s worth noting that a web presence in the form of a simple three page website with your info, photos and experience can be a way to showcase all of the above in a professional and interactive format.

Not sure what to include on your resume? Here’s a link to check out, http://www.iseek.org/jobs/resumecontents.html. Make sure to include any additional information that could qualify you, for example languages you speak and courses/workshops that you’ve taken.

 

4. Update your Yoga Trade profile

Input your basic info, experience and qualifications on your profile. Linking a Facebook profile isn’t a bad idea either. The more info you give, the better. This saves miscommunication open both ends and creates a better fit. Make sure to have a high quality photo for your profile picture, a yoga shot with some personality and a view of your beautiful face.

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5. Be intentional and purposeful in your interactions with future employers

When intentions aren’t aligned, you won’t get the most out of your experience, and when you’re job fishing, your intention won’t come across clearly. After visiting the opportunities website, tailor your application message to specifically address whomever is receiving along with what has brought you to them. It could look something like this, “Dear Ocean Sol Resort – I am very interested in traveling to Costa Rica. I have a love for all things sustainable. I see from your website that you have a farm, composting toilets, and rainwater harvesting. I would love to see how it all works and learn from you during my time abroad.” Keep it short and super sweet.

 

6. Polish out the details

Reread the posting for details about requirements and timing. If the posting wants an individual who is fluent in Spanish and available for mid-May, your availability in June and your desire to learn Spanish isn’t exactly what that posting is looking for. Not saying it won’t work out, but you will probably need to make a strong case to be considered. Be professional and personable in all your emails and proofread, please.

When you’re finished, do a quick overview of everything to check for balance. Make sure you connect your high-up dreams and aspirations with a down low groundedness and clarity of your skills. How do you hope to show up emotionally and practically everyday?

Yep, you may have a lot to work on and that’s okay! Good things take time, energy and attention. Let me know if you have any questions by commenting below and share this article with a friend who could use a little motivation to get going.

“… Live the life you have imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau

 

 

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Meg Jamison is a yoga teacher, brand designer, and Spirit follower. Meg loves helping others uncover their incredible story and using their skills to be of service. Connect with her at megjamison.co and on follow her journey on Instagram @megjam_.

How to Begin Your Journey as a Traveling Yoga Teacher

I’ve been a yoga teacher for two and a half years, and a traveling yoga teacher for about a year now. I regularly get questions about my adventures, and how I made the shift from living a relatively typical lifestyle in the States to teaching in other countries and living out of a suitcase. Many times the questions are about how to get started in travel teaching for those who aren’t sure where to begin.

First, know that there are several ways to be a traveling yoga teacher: You can travel and teach as a type of vacation (or get-away) by offering yoga-oriented retreats in beautiful locations, and make a nice little chunk of money to do so. You can also travel-teach as a lifestyle by offering specialized workshops like more well-known teachers (think Meghan Currie, Patrick Beach, and many others). Both of these sort of require that you already have a small following of local and/or international students.

If, however, you (1) are a newer teacher; (2) don’t yet have a solid following of students; or (3) aren’t sure what your unique offering is at this stage in your teaching career, but you want to begin travel teaching, then fear not.

Here are a few steps and tips to get you started on your own unique path into travel teaching.

13 Tips to Begin Your Journey as a Traveling Yoga Teacher

1. Create the Vision. Meditate on, dream, and imagine this experience so you can manifest the heck of out it. But get clear on what you want, and where you want (and are willing) to go.

2. Know that getting paid might not be an option as working in another country typically requires a work visa, which can be a lengthy and expensive process. So refer to #1, and know what you want. If you want to move to another country for a year or more, then maybe applying for a work visa is the way to go.

3. If, however, you want to spend only a few months in a country before moving on, then mari3_playa-cocleswork-trade or volunteer teaching might be the best option for you. This is what I’ve done for all of my teaching opportunities. Almost all places offer room and board in exchange for teaching, and some places even offer meals. Do your research and know exactly what the exchange is before you apply.

4. You will probably be sharing your living space in some capacity with other people. You might have a private room with shared bathroom and kitchen. You might have to share the bedroom as well. Determine what you can live with before you apply.

5. Do your research, and know the area of the world you’re going into. Is it a developed country? Or is it still categorized as ‘developing’? This matters because your living situation will likely reflect the economic state of the country you’re traveling to.

6. Get on a work-trade websites specific to yoga (Yoga Trade). Join Facebook groups specific to yoga and traveling (e.g., ‘Yoga jobs all over the world’), and even groups specific to yoga in the city, town, or country you want to go to (e.g., ‘Yoga Santa Teresa’). This is how you’ll find out about available opportunities to apply for.

7. Create profiles for non-yoga specific work trade websites as well (e.g., WWOOF, Workaway) because they might end up leading you to the teaching opportunity you 2015-5want. My second teaching placement was volunteering as a receptionist at a hostel that happened to be connected to a yoga studio. Once I arrived, it turned out that the studio needed a teacher to fill in some classes and I ended up teaching four classes a week, in an open air studio, across from the Caribbean Ocean – which was the original vision I’d hoped for.

8. Put yourself out there. Have a professional CV, make a website, and get your social medias running and active.

9. The Universe is on your side, but you’ve got to help her out, so apply to as many positions which meet your criteria from #1.

10. Know that volunteer travel teaching is surprisingly competitive. Despite how strong my teaching resume is, I only get emailed back from about 20% of the applications I send, and only 10% of those ask to schedule interviews.

11. Be diligent and don’t lose heart. If this is your dream, then give it time. Although if you do lose heart, then perhaps this isn’t your path right now. Be okay with that.

12. If an opportunity opens up, and is the next step on your journey as a teacher, then things will effortlessly click into place. But if you find yourself trying too hard, then take a step back to reassess your vision.

13. If things don’t click into place, then trust that the Universe is using this disappointment to guide you. Be okay with this too.

The Universe IS on your side, so set your vision, and then just allow, allow, allow.

 

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Sarah Cavrak, PhD, is an international yoga teacher, reiki healer, and wild woman. She hopes to empower others to discover their own Wild Soul. Find her on Facebook and Instagram @sarahcavrakyoga, as well as her website www.sarahcavrak.com.

The original posting of this article can be found here:

http://www.sarahcavrak.com/blog/13-tips-to-begin-your-journey-as-a-traveling-yoga-teacher/

5 Amazing Destinations for Yoga Surf Adventures

Through out our life travels we all meet people that have that “spark”. We also make pilgrimages to places that really make us feel “alive”. Here are 5 places to enjoy the yoga surf lifestyle while also really tapping into connection.  The magic of these destinations does not solely come from the great waves, awe-inspiring yoga spaces, and culinary delights. What makes these places so amazing is the passion, love, hard work, and commitment you can feel from the people who have started and built these havens. Also, these spots all provide the ability to deeply connect with nature, rich cultures, and Earth’s rhythms. These special places and the sustainability-minded people who created them definitely make the world a better place! Take a personal adventure, make time for a group getaway, or lead a memorable retreat at one of these outstanding and heart-expanding locations:

Wheel pose on the beach beside a red longboard surfboard.

 

ENCANTA LA VIDA – Costa Rica

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If you have ever wanted to visit the rainforest, surf, all while enjoying modern comforts, this is the place! Encanta La Vida is a unique jungle lodge situated on the tip of the Osaencanta2 peninsula in southern Costa Rica. The lodge was started over 20 years ago by the adventurous Brian Daily who started coming to Costa Rica in his high school years and grew up exploring and diving at the Channel Islands off the California coast. This place is a bird and animal lovers paradise as seeing monkeys, toucans, and scarlet macaws can be an everyday occurrence. The lodge can accommodate groups of up to 30, and the dreamy yoga deck is an open air studio situated ocean front over looking the bay of Pan Dulce. There are several surf breaks for all levels within walking distance. Other activities include waterfall hikes, horseback riding, or indulging at the lodge’s natural spa. This part of Costa Rica is truly one of the most amazing places on Earth. Experience the Pura Vida!

 

MATANIVUSI RESORT  –  Fiji

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Brian and Donna McDonald from the Gold Coast, Australia founded this boutique eco fijiyogaresort 11 years ago. It is situated on the “coral coast”, the south side of the main island of Fiji. It is a picturesque setting and how one may dream of island life. The hotel is ocean front facing turquoise lagoon waters. They have just finished building a brand new yoga facility which boasts an indoor yoga space and an outdoor yoga deck underneath an amazing banyan tree. They have been involved with the surf industry their entire lives and are passionate about low impact surf tourism. There is boat only access to the reef breaks, which makes the surfing more appealing to intermediate and advanced surfers. When conditions are right, they take day trips to surf the world class break “Frigates”. Other activities include interacting with local Fijian culture such as kava ceremonies, snorkeling, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, or lounging by their pool. They have 12 “bures” and can comfortably accommodate groups of up to 24 people.

 

TOGAT NUSA – Mentawai Islands

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Looking to really go deep and off the grid? Check out this private tropical island sanctuary in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Surfers John and Ainsley Ocean togat2handcrafted this intimate masterpiece mostly by articles found on the island. The retreat is small and takes up to 8 guests at a time, to really give it that feeling of being “shipwrecked”. The entire island can be circumnavigated by foot in about a half an hour. The white sand beaches and crystal clear water make this place heaven on Earth! The Mentawais are renowned by surfers as being a top notch and consistent wave zone. Most of the waves are reached to by boat and best suited for intermediate to advanced surfers. John and Ainsley are true examples of “living yogis”. Their kindness, compassion, and sustainable living practices, inspire everyone they meet to rise up!

 

SURF MAROC – Morocco

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Surf Maroc was founded by two British friends, Ben O’Hara and Ollie Boswell, in 2003. maroc2They built this place on their passion for surf. They have a variety of accommodation options, a hip rooftop yoga pavilion, and numerous world class surf breaks to explore for all levels. The famous “Anchor Point” is very close by. There are several breaks within walking distance, and too many breaks to explore by car. But the main attraction for many that are interested in traveling to Morocco is the CULTURE! Taghazout is a gem on the Moroccan coast. It is a laid back village, with an international vibe, funky cafes, and local Berber crafts. Nearby excursions include wandering the souks (open air marketplaces), visiting a hamman (turkish bath), driving to an inland oasis, or checking out tree climbing goats.

 

NIRVANA SURF YOGA – Panama

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Join Captain Bryan Blaze for a surf and yoga adventure like no other. Sail among the San Blas Islands and Boacs Del Toro in the Caribbean aboard a 52 foot catamaran. Practicenirvana yoga onboard or at one of the remote island stops. Bryan is a third generation sailor who has been captaining for over 12 years. He is super tuned in to this region and can take you to surf, kite surf, SUP, or snorkel at numerous secluded spots. There can be surfing found for all levels. He is available to accommodate 4-12 guests with one or two boats. Visit the island populated by the Kuna people, the indigenous inhabitants of the San Blas Islands. Enjoy the consistent trade winds, the wind in your hair, and adventure at sea!

 

 

See your life as a fabulous adventure and live YOUR best life!

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Erica Hartnick grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California, and enjoys all things wild and free. She teaches nature inspired yoga and leads mindful adventures in California and Costa Rica. She gets excited about; LEARNING, intense weather, glassy ocean peaks, pillows of fresh powder snow, crystal clear water, positive people, cultural travel, thriving vegetable gardens, fresh mint chip ice cream, nature’s glory, LIVING YOGA, and connecting with others. She is passionate about the collaboration with friends that led to the creation of Yoga Trade, and is devoted to connecting the yoga community with infinite opportunities!