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Diving In: The Yoga Trade Journey

I am not certain who introduced me to Yoga Trade, although I wish I knew so I could write them a thank you letter. It was shortly after my first 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training in Montezuma, Costa Rica at Anamaya Resort. “OMG…a website filled with yoga teaching jobs all over the world, holy crap!” My mind was blown. Moving forward, I spent my evenings scrolling through hundreds of volunteer opportunities that awaited me.

I began my Yoga Trade journey in Ubud, Bali, without a plan. I was unhappy working back home and took the leap impulsively. I blame the Full Moon for my beginners luck since I literally got the first job I emailed. The job opportunity was at a retreat center in Bali, at one of the nicest resorts in Ubud. I spent the next two weeks living like a princess and getting paid to do it. It was one of the most magical two weeks of my life.

After the Bali retreat center gig, I was back on Yoga Trade. This is where my Yoga Trade journey gets interesting. The bar had been set for me with this first experience, so I had high standards to say the least. Future Yoga Traders: don’t be picky. There are pros and cons with every job opportunity and every opportunity will be much different from the one before. Considering I had my own private luxury room and bathroom, my standards were now at a certain level. Unfortunately, this held me back from potential opportunities. After the hundreds of dollars I spent on food and accommodation in Ubud while searching for my dream job, I finally realized, I needed to get a job asap and it didn’t matter if I had to share a room.

After a few weeks I finally found my next position theu Yoga Trade at H20 Yoga and Meditation on Gili Air, Lombok. It was such a relief to not pay for accommodation and was totally worth living in a dorm. The other yoga instructors and I would take turns taking photos of ourselves teaching our classes and I gained legit Instagram photos of me teaching. I used my free time to work on my website, projects, and social media.

After my time at H20 Yoga and Meditation, I stumbled upon an ad on Yoga Trade for a Reiki + Yoga retreat with Jaclyn Keoh on Gili Air and made another connection! The fact that I was already familiar with the island and just a boat ride away put me ahead of the game. Apply to jobs closest to you and show up. Ads on Yoga Trade receive emails shortly after an opportunity is posted. Making yourself stand out and showing up is the best way.

After the retreat, I flew into Phnom Penh, Cambodia and took another opportunity I found on Yoga Trade at Bohemiaz Resort and Spa. While teaching at Bohemiaz, I was able to check out the The Vine Retreat near Kampot, Cambodia, which ended up being another job opportunity I found on Yoga Trade. Keep your options open! Upon meeting the owner of the retreat center, I was able to apply my ever growing business skills, make a good impression and shake on a deal. The owner is allowing me to use his space to host a retreat without a down payment since the center is so new. So basically my situation is that I am teaching at Bohemiaz in exchange for food and accommodation and working on my Semi Silent Self Love Yoga Retreat + Organic Farm Feast at the same time. It really is the perfect setup for achieving my goals.

Now that my Yoga Trade life story is out of the way, here is some advice if you are ready to take the plunge:

Save enough money before you head out. I took my Yoga Trade journey when I was not financially prepared due to my mental state. Money simply didn’t matter to me at the time, pursuing my passion and gaining happiness was all that mattered. I encourage anyone who feels they desperately need to get out of a western cubicle to do it immediately. The Universe will provide. Otherwise, save money before you go.

Be sure to consider what part of the world you want to be in a while and research visa requirements. I chose southeast Asia and intend to stay in southeast Asian countries the remainder of my time. However, I did not research and consider visa requirements before I left and my lack of knowledge definitely threw me off track. Be sure to plan jobs and timing the best you can. If you want to work in one place for longer than a few months, you will need to purchase a working visa and working visas are not always cheap.

Keep in mind, you are basically running your own business. Typically, resorts and yoga studios are flexible and normally need your help, so be sure to talk yourself up with business, as business skills are just as important as yoga experience. At the same time, don’t skip out on your yoga experience and be sure to create a yoga business CV. Once you get going do not focus on the cons. Remember, use the space for your business, have fun, and if things don’t work out…move on! There are infinite other opportunities out there thanks to Yoga Trade.

Thank you Yoga Trade for playing such a significant role in my life. I will continue to use this service and grow as a human. Yoga Trade not only enabled my business skills but held me while I healed. May the light in my Yoga Trade journey shine light on your Yoga Trade journey.

Namaste Yoga Traders.

 

Kelsey Kosmala’s journey began in Southern California, where she studied Social and Behavioral Sciences and had a lot of fun…She spent about 4 years heavily participating in drugs and an unhealthy lifestyle. Eventually, she got involved in fitness, which lead to her interest in yoga. After a few months of yoga classes at the gym, she was hooked and decided to get her 200 hour YTT certificate in Montezuma, Costa Rica. This is when she “woke up” and her love for yoga and travel began. She spent 5 years studying yoga, holistic living and spirituality in India, Thailand, Mexico and Austin, Texas. She has over 850+ hours training and has taught over 1000 classes and workshops. Her style consists of interlacing her studies with her own style. She incorporates Ayurveda, Trauma Therapy, Mindful Dance and Reiki Energy Healing into her work. She feels blessed as her turbulent background gave her the motivation to help others. Her specialty, given her past experiences, is holding space for people to transform, heal and be themselves.

Connect with Kelsey:

FB: @kelseyjaneyoga

Join Kelsey on retreat:

First Time Yoga Instructor in Nicaragua

Last spring, I signed up for Yoga Trade.

On my first day, I looked at the posts for volunteer and intern positions and I applied to three posts. I had an interview by the following weekend with a hostel in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. I Skyped with the volunteer coordinator there and we really clicked. We talked about yoga, volunteer positions, beaches and monsoon seasons. The next night, I was signed up for the job. It felt like fate!

In the summer, I completed my yoga instructor training in Bali. I was nervous about starting to teach, but I knew leaping into it was probably the best way to make it happen.

In August, I boarded the plane and headed off for Nicaragua, where I had never been before. I caught a bus from Managua, where the airport is, down to Rivas, and from there caught another bus to San Juan del Sur. The town was very cute—a few blocks of stone streets lined on both sides with colorful buildings. The hostel was a one-minute walk from the beach!
I met the manager and he showed me the yoga studio on the top floor, which moonlighted as a bar at night. The hostel had really cool artistic touches, like a murals on the floors and walls, recycled bottles as chandeliers and barrels turned into tables.

I made my own schedule and posters for the five morning classes I’d teach each week. In exchange for the yoga classes, I got a room in the volunteer apartment up the road, daily breakfast (burritos or gallo pinto) and free shuttles to the surrounding beaches.

My first class was the hardest, of course. I went early to set out mats, blocks and straps. Then 10 minutes before class, a cleaner came to mop the floor! I had to pick it all up and then set it all out again. The manager’s girlfriend came for the class, which made me nervous. I realized later she just liked yoga, and wasn’t there to check on me. She told me later she never would have guessed that it was my first class ever.

Each morning, anywhere from 2 to 15 people came. The room was small so 15 was a stretch, but we made it work. It was always interesting to see the levels of the yogis who came too. A few times, I had someone for their first class ever and sometimes other yoga instructors who were traveling through came for the classes. Some yogis didn’t speak English so I had to be good at modeling the poses and alignment adjustments. It was difficult at first to try to make a plan for such a mixed group, but it’s a good skill to learn.

After a couple of weeks, another volunteer yoga instructor joined me at the hostel. We made a new schedule that included afternoon classes as well, which meant we could implement my idea for sunset yoga on the beach! Looking back, that was probably my favorite part! It was also really nice to have another instructor teaching classes that I could go to and learn from as a new instructor myself.

On the new schedule I taught two classes on Fridays and one class Tuesday through Thursday. That meant I had 3-day weekends so I made time to travel and see some other islands, beaches and cities around Nicaragua. I really enjoyed the local beach shuttles as well because there are so many gorgeous beaches near San Juan del Sur. I also had the opportunity to take Spanish lessons from another volunteer at the hostel. One night, I saw one of the hostel’s volunteer projects in action: helping the endangered sea turtles. I got to go to a far-away beach to see the babies hatching and making their way to the sea. We also saw some mother turtles laying eggs in new nests they were digging.

I’m really grateful to have had this opportunity to start teaching yoga in such a relaxed, fun way, and in a new, interesting part of the world!

 

 

 

Katia loves to travel and do yoga. She currently lives and teaches yoga in Mandalay, Myanmar. She also enjoys blogging about her experiences on katiayoga.com

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/

Enchanted Yoga Trade Experience

This article is shared by Yoga Trade community member, Jenna Devi about her Costa Rica yoga trade experience. Connect with Jenna here: http://www.jennasadventures.com/

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Enchanted Yoga Trade Experience in Paradise. Surfing it too.

I wanted to spend some time surfing and teaching yoga in the tropics but had no idea how to make it happen. It seemed like an impossible dream until I found Yoga Trade. On jenna4their website I found Encanta la Vida, an eco lodge in Costa Rica. In exchange for teaching yoga and working the front desk a few hours a week I would get a room, food and 50% earnings of the classes I taught.

I remember I had a five minute Skype interview with the Lodge’s Manager, Kate. She asked “Can you get here in two months?” and I said “Yes” before I could get in my head and make up reasons why I couldn’t. It happened so fast, I couldn’t believe it!

Two months later I boarded a plane and headed down to Costa Rica for my Yoga residency. I did as much research as I could but because it was so off the beaten path, there was not much of an internet presence so I really had no idea what I was getting into. And I truly could not have been more lucky. I literally walked into paradise.

I taught yoga on the second story of an enormous open air deck canopied by jungle and a view of Pan Dulce surf break. It wasn’t uncommon to see monkeys swing by as I walkedjenna2 down a gorgeous jungle path to get to the yoga deck, scarlet macaws were always hanging out during class, every so often I would hear a happy holler from a surfer who had just dropped in on a wave… speaking of surfing – WOW. I almost don’t want to write about it to give it away! Pan Dulce gets huge and has the slowest and most forgiving waves in the area allowing you a ton of trial and error practice without getting pounded. Be prepared to lose count on how many turns you do on a single ride and stretch out your calf muscles to prevent them from fatiguing – seriously! Backwash, another break in this area is one of my favorite right point breaks I have ever surfed. It’s faster and steeper than Pan Dulce making it more of an intermediate wave. It’s the most beautiful beach, the surf gets big and in my opinion the crowds that surfed there had the best vibe. Matapalo, the break the sits at the very end of the road, is gorgeous but challenging. Beware of the rocks during low tide. If hit you could easily say goodbye to your board – or your face. This break is dominated by locals but if you know how to play your etiquette cards right and you want to see some groms rip it better than the best surfer you know – go there.

The Encanta la Vida Lodge was such a magical place. Even though I was ‘working’ for them, I felt like a guest. Brian, the owner, is hilarious and tells some of the best stories during dinner, you meet people from all over the world and you are living on eye candy jenna5property in the middle of the jungle. And the food! I really didn’t know what to expect but I went there thinking I was going to lose a ton of weight because of all the surfing and yoga I’d be doing. Wrong! The food was so delicious and plentiful I actually gained weight and a ton of muscle.  I felt so lucky to be drinking water out of wine glasses and feasting on 3 course dinners. Chef Fabian is amazing. Every night was different and everything made from scratching, including desert.

Living in another country is the best way to experience personal growth and life learning, especially when traveling alone. Your life is put into perspective and you discover what’s really important to you. You’ll have the best and worst days and you’ll learn why which helps you get a better understand of who you are underneath it all. I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to do a Yoga Trade to take it. I learned another language, found my yoga practice and teaching, met amazing people from all over the world, met one of my now best friends, some of my questions about life were answered replaced by more intriguing ones… I can go on and on.

It really was because of Yoga Trade that allowed me this life changing experience. My life has been forever changed!

jenna7Jenna is a performing artist, writer, and athlete. She has a degree in Music Performance and has been seen on numerous stage and film productions. She loves to travel, surf and meet people from all over the world. Jenna is Yoga Alliance and Thai Yoga Massage Certified and enjoys teaching Yoga to her community – wherever that is… depends on where her travels take her! Be Curious. Live, Learn, Inspire.
IG: JennasAdventures

Bhakti Fest Seva

Every spring and fall a gathering full of Love gathers in the California desert. These heart inspired unions are called Bhakti Fest. The Bhakti Festival brings well know yoga teachers suchphoto (51) as Shiva Rea, Kia Miller, and Mark Whitwell, kirtan musicians such as Jai Uttal and Donna De Lory, and interesting people from around the world together for a few days to celebrate life.

The celebration is held at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center, a place with magical energy, big skies, and naturally beautiful views. Bhakti Fest also comes together once a year in the Midwest.

The word “bhakti” means devotion, or pure love. So bhakti yoga can be defined as the practice of connecting with the divine, and to continue to reestablish that relationship and connection through acts of love and devotion.

The spring festival is usually a bit more intimate and is known as Shakti Fest. “Shakti” is photo (49)the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe. Shakti is the concept of the divine feminine creative power.

Bhakti Fest offers incredible “seva” programs at their events. Seva can be translated as selfless service, or work performed without any thought of reward. Seva is believed to help one’s personal growth and contribute to improving community. The “seva” at Bhakti Fest can also be defined as “work exchange”. One can volunteer in various departments of the festival to work in exchange for free admission to the festival.

Volunteering at these kinds of events can be a life changing experience. You can get a whole new perspective from working behind the scenes at these events, create life long friends,photo (54) and build meaningful relationships. Engaging in work exchange can also give you a deeper appreciation and a feeling of an equal flow of energy exchange.

Getting involved with work exchange at festivals is also a wonderful way to dive into the world of “yoga trade“. If you are new to participating in these types of exchanges, weekend events are a great way to start.

For more information about Bhakti Fest and to reach out to become part of the work exchange team, connect here:

http://bhaktifest.com/work-exchange/

The secrets of the universe are in you, as you. Stop searching, START LIVING!

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BIG THANKS to the Shakti Fest 2015 Green Room Seva Crew and everyone that makes these kinds of events possible!!!

yogafarmloveErica 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!

http://yogatrade.com/

Benefits of Creating Volunteer Opportunities

There are infinite benefits of creating volunteer opportunities within your organization or business. It can help your organization grow, will bring zest and new insights to your business, and creates a “positive feedback loop” of giving and receiving. Here Yogi Aaron (Founder of Blue Osa Yoga Retreat + Spa) shares his wisdom and experience on creating a successful volunteer program.

“If you want an unhappy volunteer, give them the job of cleaning toilets.”
volunteer4I quickly came to know how true this statement really was. Even a paid employee never really wants to clean up after messy guests. At the conception of Blue Osa, we always had the dream to include volunteers – to invite them to be a part of our daily life. But very quickly we realized three things:

1.We did not need or want volunteers to be cleaning toilets, rooms, washing dishes, or even raking leaves. We had competent employees who could do it better.

2.We did not want to manage volunteers.

3.We did not want to give away essential jobs to volunteers.

Being an Eco-Friendly yoga retreat, part of our mission was to support the health of the local economy and ‘eco-system’.  Most gringo local employers hire their employees seasonally. The local people work for six months and then are off for six months. This has detrimental effects on the economy. Blue Osa made the decision that if we were going to hire employees, it was for the whole year. 

 

Thus, the volunteer program was shelved. Until one day, after four years of being opened, I reached a state of burn out. I was burnt out from all of my responsibilities. I was burnt out from carrying the weight of Blue Osa. As my business partner Adam was still in NYC running his own business, I was left shouldering the burden of Blue Osa on my own. I was responsible for everything, including the marketing.

And the marketing was not volunteer1only getting left behind, I felt that all my creativity was completely used up. I literally cried out to the universe to please send me someone to help me.
 
And then I took action. I set out to place a notice on our Blue Osa Facebook Page and my personal page: Marketing person needed at Blue Osa – If any of you know of a person who has marketing skills – SEO, Adwords, phone skills, a people person, creative, not afraid of taking on projects and would like to live at Blue Osa for a few weeks or months and volunteer, can you have them contact us!

Within hours I had more responses than I knew what to do with. But the key was in finding the right person. And then it happened. Lynan Saperstein from the Big Factor contacted me.

When asked why she wanted to come and volunteer, she replied….“I am in a place in my life where I want to take a pause to reflect. And I want to give back.” In speaking with Lynan in our original interview and planning, we both decided that having a few extra writers and copy writers at Blue Osa would be a great idea. Somehow, we managed to attract a team of five amazing people who came and spent the entire month of March with us. In that time, we did many things. The biggest gain for us was the creation of an entirely new website for Blue Osa.

5 Tips on Having Successful Volunteers:

1. Never make them a part of your critical operations, i.e. your business will not fall apart if they have to pick up and leave all of a sudden. Hire people for that. (A lot of businesses stupidly have volunteers to run critical operations and then are really disappointed when the volunteer doesn’t fulfill their expectations. It is bad business to have volunteers fill these kinds of roles.) Your volunteers should be helping with the projects that you can never get to, or that you dream about having done. For example, Adam (Blue Osa Founder) and I would love to create signature music playlists for each day of the week. But we don’t have time and we have been putting this off for seven years. So we placed an ad on Yoga Trade and found the person we were looking for within two days.

2. Get really clear.  Here are the things you MUST be clear about and upfront with them. If you follow these simple things, your life will be easier when they arrive and EVERYONE will be happier. And you will most likely get what you are asking for.

volunteer3– Is there any compensation? Stipends? Are you clear with them about how much spending money they might need to bring?

– Why are you asking for volunteers. Is it because you support a bigger cause? Or are you trying to save money. Either answer is fine, just be up front, honest and clear.

– Where are they going to sleep? Are they sharing a room? Are they sharing a bathroom?

– What is the food situation?

– Are they allowed to have relationships with your guests / clients / employees? What is your policy?

– Do they have access to your kitchen? If not, what arrangements will you make?

– What hours will they work?A big part of our volunteer program is writing copy. In having so many writers here, I initially gave them assignments and then waited for them to complete them. This did not work. People inherently procrastinate and do not work well without structure. It is better to have set hours in a designated location where everyone can see them and know when they are working for you.- Is there any nightlife nearby? What is there to do or not do where you are located.

– Do they need to provide for any of their own equipment: computers, cameras, or gardening supplies? Or will you provide these things for them?

– Will they be picked up at the airport / train station / bus station? Do you include transportation?

3. Set the tasks and then give your volunteers the space to make it happen. In other words, don’t micromanage them. Each volunteer will bring their unique brilliance to the table. They want to share it with you. They want to give it to you. Let them!
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4. Take care of your volunteers. Your volunteers need to be taken care of. If they don’t feel taken care of and nurtured, they will not be happy and not produce. On the flip side of that, if they are not living up to their end of the bargain, don’t be afraid of asking them to leave. There was one volunteer we had stay for three months. After the first two weeks, we knew it was going to be rocky. The biggest regret we have today was in not letting this individual go, thus creating issues in our community.

5. Ask for what you want. Don’t be afraid of asking for it. Just ask for it with clarity and honesty. My first mistake in starting the volunteer program was in not being clear.Overall, we have had a lot of success and the most amazing people who have come and graced Blue Osa with their presence (Lynan being at the top of the list). But there were a few who did not need to cross our threshold. I do not blame them, I blame myself for not being clear enough in asking for what I wanted, and in setting clear expectations for them. Being clear and asking for what you want and need will attract the right volunteers to you.

Creating opportunities for volunteerism in your establishment is an excellent way to engender community. We have been so blessed over the past two years to be surrounded by so many amazing people, most of them coming to us from Yoga Trade–each of these people unique and so willing to share their gifts, willing to step up to the challenge of helping us achieve the mission of Blue Osa.

Aaron
Yogi Aaron brings passion and a spirit of adventure to his teaching. Thus inspired, he guides students to secret, far-flung locales, which not only empowers them to realize their own limitless potential but also makes yoga relevant and accessible for the modern world. Since 2002 he has been traveling and leading retreats worldwide. He currently serves as the Yoga Director at Blue Osa Yoga Retreat + Spa in Costa Rica. 

 

Yoga Teacher Training
with Yogi Aaron
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/BlueOsaYogaRetreat
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BlueOsaYoga
Instagram: http://instagram.com/blueosa
Watch Aaron on Youtube

10 Tips for Teaching Yoga Abroad

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.

IMG_0212I 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.

10.  Inspire. 

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?

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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

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