While yoga careers come with plenty of perks (comfy clothes, flexible schedules, amazing people), paid vacation isn’t usually part of the package. Some companies, however, are offering yoga teachers pretty appealing travel opportunities—if you're willing to work for them.
Want to take your yoga teaching talent around the world—on someone else’s dime? It may seem too good to be true, but many resorts and cruise lines without an in-house yoga teacher contract outfitters who specialize in wellness programming.
Get (almost) free beach vacations as a yoga teacher
NRG2GO, founded in 2000 and based in Canada places yoga and fitness instructors at luxurious destinations in exchange for low-cost teaching vacations. Currently commissioned by all-inclusive resorts in the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Mexico, the company recruits instructors for weeklong stays and vets them via an online application process, which requires a minimum 200-hour Hatha yoga certification, previous employers, a photo, and short video or Youtube link.
Approved teachers are typically required to teach two to three 30–40 minute classes daily, barring one’s arrival and departure days. In exchange for teaching, “You, plus one travel companion get to enjoy the resort, and all-inclusive amenities and accommodations,” says Darylyn Johnston, the company’s director of operations.
As for the costs and savings of these trips, “The biggest expense is flights and airport transfers to and from your hotel,” she says. In addition, instructors pay a “program” fee to NRG2GO per week of travel, whether traveling alone or not. Fees vary depending upon resort chosen, but range from $300–$450. Some resorts are kid-friendly, and instructors can bring their kids, but resorts charge a nightly fee, which is typically $50 per child, per night, Johnston says. And although most resorts have their own insurance, instructors also required to have their own liability insurance.
Will a resort teaching vacation be right for you?
“Our most successful yoga instructors are those who are well-versed in a variety of class disciplines, not just yoga, since at some resorts, instructors are required to teach yoga, in addition to an Aquafit-style class,” Johnston says. “They should also be personable and easy-going, as sometimes your class location or schedule may change. You need to be flexible.”
If you’re shy and uncomfortable in new settings, this opportunity might not be a fit for you, as instructors are expected to promote their classes around the resort roughly 20 minutes prior to their designated class times, mingling and inviting guests to participate.
“Some resorts help you out with equipment (mats) and some don’t,” says Johnston. So, you may have to get creative without the gear you’re used to teaching with. NRG2GO also maintains a “gift fund,” through which instructors can donate yoga mats, and other lightweight items, as “Some of our resorts don’t have a budget for things like this. Other times, it’s just a gesture of goodwill,” Johnston says.
If you're looking to get away for longer...
Yoga instructors can also find work on cruise lines, some of which partner with other companies to operate their onboard spa and wellness programming. Since 2014, Celebrity Cruises has contracted Canyon Ranch to run its SpaClub at Sea services. “On the ships, we provide two fitness instructors each. They may be certified from their countries of origin and need to be well-rounded—in addition to yoga, they can teach Zumba and Pilates, too,” says Sandra Foil, senior vice president for Canyon Ranch’s program.
Instructors must commit to 7-month contracts and to share a cabin with no windows, Foil says.The perks of this ocean work and lifestyle are that room and board are paid for and your only expenses are personal hygiene, Foil says. “Your wages ($1100 each month) aren’t taxed, so depending how you classify yourself, you can make a lot of money. For each private class you book, you receive an 18 percent commission, too.”(Partners and companions are also permitted to visit you onboard and are offered special rates.)
For an average 7-day cruise, “Instructors have one and a half days off. Hours start early—about 7 a.m., teaching on average about 5 classes each day, including indoor cycling, yoga and yogalates, with 8–20 students. You’re finishing at about 4 or 5 p.m.,” Foil says. “Instructors must be willing to help out in the spa as well.” During port time, teachers are free to get off the ship and explore.
Besides being a great opportunity to see the world, cruise ship experience can turn into more than a vacation. There are opportunities in spa management for those interested in a career in health and wellness, Foil says. “Ninety percent of Canyon Ranch personnel are promoted from within. There’s room to grow and you can still practice your yoga if that’s what you want.”
ABOUT OUR WRITER
Erika Prafder is a veteran writer and product reviewer for The New York Post and the author of a book on entrepreneurship. A long-time yoga enthusiast and Hatha yoga teacher, she edits KidsYogaDaily.com, a news source for young yogis. The working mother of three resides in a beach community in Long Island, New York.