I moved to a different country to teach yoga. I thought, I’d have my own yoga studio, my own yoga school. However, the whole idea of having a studio and teaching students fell apart. I didn’t have enough work, so I took on private lessons as a side business. I started with one person, and that turned into six. I had to learn how to manage that.
I moved to a different country to teach yoga. I didn’t do it to improve my English (although I’m feeling much better now). I did it because I wanted to travel, meet new people, and learn something new. I wanted to experience a new culture and try new foods. I wanted to teach yoga in a different environment, one that was more humid and hot than my usual one in the United States. But one of the biggest reasons I moved was for the yoga community.
For many people, moving to a new country is a big change, and the people, foods, routines and entertainment will all be different. But in different cultures, there are some constants—some things that are the same, no matter where you go. Yoga is one of those things. So, what’s the lesson to be learned from living in a different country? Why do we teach yoga? What should you expect? Yoga…
Not long ago, I sat in my office in Europe dreaming of a different life. Overall, I wanted my life to be more meaningful and exciting. In the past few years, I have moved from Europe to the Philippines, moved from the office to teaching yoga outdoors, and started hosting other traveling yoga teachers.
If you dream of teaching yoga in faraway countries, read on! Here’s what I learned from my decision to move to another country to teach yoga and what the last three years abroad have been like.
Getting started and knowing your options
Maybe you already teach yoga in your country, or maybe you dream of taking the plunge and pursuing a career in yoga. Whatever your motivation, you should know that there are several options.
First you need to decide how long you want to travel, which continent or country you prefer, and what you want to do with your base while you’re away. But don’t worry, you don’t have to sell all your possessions and move for many years. You can start with a working holiday of one or two months and see if you like it.
There is a misconception that only very famous teachers can lead retreats, or that only very popular teachers can teach in dream locations.
If you are a beginning yoga teacher, you can look for opportunities to become a full-time yoga teacher at resorts or hotels that offer yoga as a service to their guests. This is an excellent opportunity to learn and develop your skills as a teacher without being intimidated by large classes at the same time.
Working as a full-time yoga teacher means living on the resort grounds and teaching one or two classes a day, which are relatively small (one-on-one to 6-8 students) and generally aimed at beginner to intermediate level students.
Remember that in this scenario, you are teaching yoga to people who are on vacation. So the purpose of the yoga class is a little different than at home: people just want to relax and have fun. As a teacher, this allows you to develop different lesson structures as a foundation, and as guests come and go, you can practice your key lessons over and over again with a new group.
How to find a site?
This step may take some time. If you are already traveling, you can offer your services in the places you like. Even places that don’t offer yoga yet may be interested in starting it – it just takes someone taking the initiative to develop a structure for regular classes.
If you have already chosen a country or city, start researching the yoga locations there and write to them to find out if they are looking for new yoga teachers or if they are planning to hire one in the near future.
There are also many interesting resources on the internet. Yoga Trade is an excellent resource where retreat and resort organizers regularly post information about class opportunities. For a small annual fee you have full access to vacancies.
When answering a message, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the organization in question and the place where you will be working. Describe not only what makes you special, but also your motivation for working with a particular organization. This is important information that many retreat hosts take note of.
There are also many Facebook groups, such as Yoga Jobs All Over the World (yes, with three l’s), where many jobs are posted regularly.
Are you looking for new challenges in teaching yoga?
For experienced teachers, it may be more interesting to look for large retreat centers where people come specifically for yoga classes. It is an environment where people come to learn new skills, develop their practice and spend their holidays exclusively on yoga. Especially in the popular centers, classes are larger and more courses with a specific orientation are offered.
To gain more freedom, you can market your specific skills and present them as a workshop that can be offered to yoga studios and retreat centers. Are you an expert in handstands, inversions or a particular style of yoga?
If so, you could put together a 2-3 hour workshop based on your specific skills/talents and sell it to studios abroad. This allows you to maintain your freedom while traveling and enjoy the opportunity to make new and interesting acquaintances.
Use other non-yoga skills that you have
Resorts and retreats are always interested in other skills you might have. How many languages do you speak? Do you like cooking, are you familiar with (Thai) massages, acupuncture or other wellness services? Please indicate this on your application form.
If you’re a bubbly person who enjoys interacting with people, consider working with clients in resorts between yoga classes. If you are an accountant, web developer or graphic designer, your skills can also come in handy to help small hotels and resorts promote their facilities and services.
The main point is this: The more you are willing to do for your experience, the more likely you are to be noticed.
But set your own boundaries and don’t accept anything that doesn’t suit you or your goal. Arrange a phone call with your prospective host to get a feel for the situation, ask to speak with past yoga teachers for advice and, no matter how short or simple your stay, it’s always a good idea to draw up a written contract about your obligations.
How much is it about money?
Money is obviously important, but how important is it in your case? Again, this depends heavily on your experience and the location you are targeting.
Job exchange involves the host country providing you with shelter and food, but generally no money changes hands. In some cases, you may be able to negotiate VISA payments or other fees as part of the transaction, but mostly it’s an exchange of services.
With a limited number of yoga classes per day, it can be a rewarding way to gain experience and travel the world on a limited budget. To optimize your travel costs, choose locations that are close to each other and plan your flight routes so that you are comfortable in the same area.
If you’re looking for a steady income, look for large retreat centers and yoga studios with a steady stream of yogis. These are jobs that usually offer a base salary and other benefits, and some may even pay for your flights.
Knowledge of visa requirements for different countries
Unfortunately, pursuing the dream of yoga and travel is not without its legal problems. It is VERY important to find out what the visa requirements are for all the countries where you want to teach yoga. In addition to information on the length of stay permitted, your visa may also determine what you may or may not do professionally during your stay in that country.
For example, if you are a full-time yoga teacher in some countries in exchange for board and lodging, the immigration laws of those countries may consider this to be volunteer work, so you do not need to apply for a work permit.
Regarding legal and immigration issues, my personal advice is to stay in one place for at least 3-4 weeks to get used to the new place and routines and become familiar with the local culture.
Manage your expectations before departure
Living the yoga life on a tropical island is a dream come true for me. But it’s not just coconut drinks and sunsets. Sometimes the realities of working life in less developed countries can hit you hard and it is useful to think about what you are willing to accept in order to achieve your dreams.
Living conditions can be very basic, there may be more insects than you are used to, private facilities are scarce, and basic amenities such as water and electricity may be unstable. Some places can be very far away and you need to talk between yoga sessions.
Yet, by traveling and teaching, you can experience things you can’t at home! There is nothing like the excitement of meeting other people, gaining valuable and interesting experiences and learning about yoga in other cultures. Either way, an experience like teaching abroad will impact your practice and your way of teaching and make you evolve in ways you never imagined.
Photo credits : YogoGirls
Teaching yoga has been a dream of mine for a long time, and I eventually decided to follow it after I left the United States and moved to Thailand. It was a bit of a culture shock at first, going from a densely populated city in the US to a low-density rural village in Thailand. I was also worried that I might not be able to find another job in Thailand, since I was teaching English to students from all over the world. However, I quickly realized that if I was a bit more flexible and relaxed in my approach to teaching, I might have a better chance of finding work.. Read more about yoga teacher jobs in switzerland and let us know what you think.
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