Cover image: Andrew Walsh Photography
Since starting my blog about a year ago, I’ve been so flattered to receive lots of lovely messages from you guys asking about how I became a travelling yoga teacher. Teaching yoga abroad has literally been a dream come true for me so if you share that dream then I want to do everything I can to help you do it too!
So, I’ve finally got my act together and written down a step-by-step guide to becoming a travelling yoga teacher. I’ve included tips about everything from money and packing to coping with homesickness. Basically the answers to all the questions anyone has ever asked me about my travels!
I hope you find it useful, fellow yogis 🙂
Step 1: Become an awesome yoga teacher
Captain Obvious, at your service.
I’m assuming at this point that you’ve had a consistent yoga practice for at least several years and you’ve been through the process of deciding that yoga teaching is your future!
Obviously you’ll need to do an official teacher training in order to become an instructor. But a 4-week course will not give you enough experience to compete with other yoga teachers with years of practice. Take your time to practise teaching your friends and family, set up free classes in the park, offer everyone you know some private tuition! Get as much practice teaching as possible until you feel confident and you’re receiving great feedback from your students.
Step 2: Save save save
Whether you’re looking for a paid teaching position or a work trade arrangement, you’re going to need some savings before you start travelling. Depending on the role, some of the things you might have to fork out for include: flights, visa, accommodation, food, vaccinations and insurance. No matter what, you’re going to want spending money – if you’re visiting the destination of your dreams you’ll want to be able to make the most of it and explore.
You’ll be able to budget properly once you’ve found your job and know more about your working arrangements. But travelling costs money whether you’re working or not, so start saving as much as you possibly can right now!
Step 3: Think logistics
When I decided I wanted to travel and teach for a year, I was working at a bank in London, teaching yoga part time and living in a rented apartment with my boyfriend. So clearly I needed to do some life reshuffling in order to make it work. My boyfriend moved in with a friend and I moved all my belongings back to my parents’ house as it obviously didn’t make sense for me to continue paying rent while I was away for a year.
But not everyone wants to stay away from home for such a long time and that doesn’t mean you can’t still make this dream a reality! Here are some of the different ways you could spin it to get the yoga teaching experience abroad of your dreams…
- Sabbatical: if you’re working full time, ask your employer for 6 months or a year sabbatical. They’re far more likely to say yes than you think – if they’ve invested time and money on you as an employee, it’s worth them trying to keep you happy.
- Unpaid leave: I took 5 weeks of unpaid leave to do my yoga teacher training course. I chose a period of time when I knew my team had very little work going on so I knew they wouldn’t miss me!
- School holidays: if you’re a student you could use your summer break to do a 1, 2 or 3 month position abroad.
- Job share: if you’re already a full time yoga teacher you could arrange for a fellow yogi to cover your public classes for the period of time you’re away.
Leaving your home and family
I was really lucky that my boyfriend supported me 100% and encouraged me to follow my dreams. I would have loved for him to travel with me but it wasn’t the right time for him. He moved in with a friend and I moved most of my remaining possessions back to my parents’ house. (Obviously if you’re looking for something a little more short-term you won’t need to move out of your place!)
It wasn’t easy to leave him especially after having lived together for over a year, and believe me when I say I balled like a baby when I left (and many times whilst I was away!). But the alternative was to stay in the UK and continue to fantasise about following my dreams, potentially waking up in 5 years wondering why I didn’t do it when I was 25 with very few responsibilities. I knew I had to give it a go!
I’m also super close with my family and even though I wasn’t living near them anymore it was still tough to say goodbye and I missed them a LOT. It’s a big consideration when you go away for an extended period of time: will you miss your loved ones too much to be able to enjoy your travels? I can’t tell you the answer to that question but for me, every time I felt homesick I just reminded myself that if I were at home with my family I would just be dreaming about being away. Practising mindfulness meditation helped me a lot during those times to focus on the now and let go of the past/future.
Step 4: Create an amazing CV
When you feel like you have enough teaching experience to apply for a job, get it all down on a CV/resume. Since you’ll be applying from afar, this will be the first impression a company has of you and your brand so make it count! There’s an endless supply of beautiful free templates online so there’s no excuse for a shabby CV 😉
I like to include a little bio at the top of my yoga CV describing my teaching style and exactly what I’m looking for in a job. This has had really good feedback from employers as it gets straight to the point and helps them to see instantly whether or not I’d be a good fit.
Step 5: Find your dream teaching job
To be honest, the travelling yoga teacher business is very competitive. I applied to many jobs unsuccessfully with a year of teaching experience so if you’re completely new to teaching then do bear this in mind, but don’t give up! You might have to accept work trade arrangements at first in order to build up your experience, but this is still a super cheap way to travel and some of my best memories are from work trades. Once your CV is a little more colourful you will find it easier to negotiate paid work.
I found many of my teaching jobs on a website called Yoga Trade. For $24 a year you get access to all the opportunities posted by studios/retreat centres around the world. You can browse the opportunities on a world map and apply through the website in just a few clicks. They also have quite a nice blog with guest posts from Yoga Trade members/teachers. There are new opportunities posted every day from running a studio in New Zealand to teaching yoga on a yacht, so it’s well worth the $24 in my opinion!
There’s a Facebook group you can join called “yoga teaching all over the world”. Although I did find one awesome opportunity there, it has become a little bit spammy recently so I’d recommend joining the group and switching off notifications. Just have a browse of the page every so often and see if anything worthwhile has come up.
If you’re super keen, you could also just find a studio or a retreat you like the look of and contact them directly to see if they are hiring. This can work with hotels too; some fancy hotels have resident yoga teachers on-site to run group or private classes. Just be bold and get creative – if you don’t ask you don’t get!
Step 6: Agree your working arrangement
Make sure you agree your terms very clearly with your employer, just like you would with any other job at home. It can be really tempting to accept any old job just because it’s in your dream location. But if you’re not comfortable with the terms of the agreement then you’ll end up regretting it and wasting a lot of time/money.
Here’s my checklist of things to consider when you’ve found your dream job:
- Is the position paid, a work trade or voluntary?
- If paid, will it be per class, per student or per hour?
- How many classes/hours a week will I be expected to work?
- How long is the arrangement for? What happens if I want to leave early or stay longer?
- Am I expected to do any work other than yoga teaching?
- Will I need a work permit or visa for the country? If so, how much will it cost, how long does it take to get it etc.
- Are flights + visa costs paid for by the employer or will I have to purchase myself? What about liability insurance?
- Will I need any vaccinations to enter the country?
- What size of class will I be teaching and how experienced will the students be?
- Are there any extras included in the agreement? E.g. use of a car for exploring.
Step 7: Admin time
Once you’ve found your dream job, you’ll need to do a little bit of admin to get prepared for your trip. Here are some of the things you’ll need to think about:
- Money – does your bank do good rates for ATM withdrawals or would you be better with a prepaid travel card? What about credit cards?
- Insurance – health, gadget and liability insurance
- Medication – any Epipens or other medication you might need whilst you’re away. Are there any restrictions around taking this abroad?
Step 8: Get packing!
Now it’s time to get excited. I have plans to write another blog post about what I pack for medium/long term yoga travel, but here are some of the key principles I try to stick to:
- PACK LIGHT. You need so much less than you think. You’ll probably end up wearing approximately three outfits on rotation and the rest of your clothes will be left in your suitcase.
- Buy toiletries when you arrive. Don’t lug litre bottles of shampoo and conditioner around the world – it’s a waste of space and kgs in your bag and they can be much cheaper abroad anyway!
- Also, did I mention you should pack light? Especially if you’re travelling in Asia where clothes are much cheaper and you can buy stuff when you arrive.
- Some key life saving items that I will never travel without include: a rain mac, a quick drying towel, a sleeping bag liner and a fanny pack (yep I’m that cool!)
I had the most amazing time during my year of travelling and teaching. I met so many incredible people, explored some of the most beautiful places in the world and learned more about myself than ever before. It’s tough to be away from your loved ones for so long but if you’re up for the challenge then there’s a whole world of yogic adventure awaiting you!
If there’s anything else you’d like to know about my time as a travelling yoga teacher, please ask away in the comments. Otherwise, best of luck on your yoga journey and have an amazing time 🙂
Thanks for reading folks.