How to innovate abroad with your Yoga!

With articles such as ‘Why I went broke as a Yoga teacher’ and ‘You’re never going to make a living as a Yoga teacher’ appearing regularly in newsfeeds, it’s fair to say that teachers have it tough in their hometown. There’s a surplus of talented professionals; getting a class at a studio can be difficult, and even if you have a wide range of teaching engagements, the income can be unsteady. Nevertheless, if you are an innovative and gutsy person, have you ever considered taking your Yoga abroad?

It can be an exciting and rewarding experience to move somewhere totally new and start building Yoga projects from scratch. I had come from Spain, a popular Yoga destination that boasts some of the best teachers in the world - it was difficult to see how I, a newly qualified teacher, was going to make ends meet. But some of my Colombian friends took me aside - had I ever heard of Medellín? It sounded like the perfect place to start - apart from the marvellous weather, Yoga is relatively new and there is not so much competition from other teachers. Living costs are low, and it’s minimal risk to start a new project. I could build my CV while seeing if any interesting opportunities arose. A plane ticket and a year and a half later, I can say it was an excellent decision. Here is what I’ve learned along the way!

Offer donation classes:

From hostels and hotels, to parks and co-working spaces (the latter are so important here!), there are ample opportunities for you to teach outside of a studio and grow your network of students. Putting up flyers and using social media (Facebook and Instagram) are great ways to spread the word.

Offer Yoga in English to expats:

You may well find that you are the only teacher in town who speaks fluent English, which can be a huge advantage. You can cater both to travellers and to long term ex-pat residents in your new city, which will prove very attractive to studios who might want to offer an English class. 

Speak the language:

Having a basic grasp of the local language is essential. Not only can you communicate with studio owners and newcomers to Yoga from the local population, but you can start teaching and subbing in for native teachers when needed. You might like to consider our language course on how to teach Yoga in Spanish if you are thinking of a Latin American country!

Train in local studios:

Not only will attending regular classes in the local language help your progress and keep your Yoga fresh, but you will soon start to meet all kinds of interesting people. Whether they are studio owners who might be interested in what you have to offer, or students who might feel drawn to your practice, it is a great way to build your base of contacts.

Work with a further skill:

Offering other services can be vital in helping you build financial independence. English teachers and digital nomads can be found aplenty here and you can develop your Yoga projects on the side. Working with wellbeing - reiki, massage, ayurveda etc - can be particularly useful, as your clients and Yoga students will overlap. They may come to you for one service and end up joining you in the other.

Network with expats:

In any developing economy you will likely find people innovating in all kinds of interesting ways. They can share knowledge about visas, or the process to start a business, and introduce you to the people that can help further your goals. Their ideas can inspire and they can help you flesh out your own personal vision. There have been certain ‘angels’ here who have worked unbelievably hard on my behalf to help me on my way; I try to do the same when I can.

Needless to say, it’s important to be patient with these kinds of undertaking and not expect success to appear overnight. A bit of grit is essential - the ability to make it through those times when nobody is showing up and it seems as though things aren’t working out. Your next break might be just around the corner! It’s fair to say that the times when I feel most stressed are when I feel like I’m going nowhere; when I relax the opportunities seem to come of their own accord! 

Did you enjoy this article? You might consider reading ‘How to make it as a new Yoga teacher’ and ‘The Journey To Teaching Yoga In A Second Language: Why It Could Be So Important To Your Career’. Or join us for an internship program here in Medellín and teach, learn and live in a thriving Yoga community!