The New Nomad: What it’s Like to Be a Traveling Yoga Teacher

July 27, 2016
Jen Corley
7 min read
traveling yoga teacher

Is Traveling Yoga Teacher The New Nomad?

For a while now, we’ve been hearing about people who are quitting their jobs to lead a life full of travel. The nomadic life seems like the ideal lifestyle, especially for those of us who love to travel. But a lot of us aren’t content only to travel around the world, we want to make a difference and live our purpose. On my own travels, I have met a lot of these inspirational people. When I was in Central America this past year, I met a traveling yoga teacher named Jackie McCarrick, who taught yoga at the health spa I was staying at in Granada, Nicaragua, called PURE. She was traveling around Central America, offering her services as a yoga teacher, and connecting with like minded change makers from all over the globe. I asked her if she would take the time to talk to me a bit about her lifestyle, and she graciously agreed.

traveling yoga teacher

How did travel and yoga come together for you?

I can’t believe it happened. It’s uniting my two passions. I set out on this journey of self exploration and self study. I gave myself the opportunity, by myself: no job, no schooling, and no outside influences. My journey was built on self-study and self awareness and coming to live my life from a place of living my true self. I stayed in hostels, where people wanted to practice. I told them ‘if you want to practice yoga with me, you can join.’ People were into the idea. So I told the hostels, if you want to do a trade I can teach yoga in exchange for a place to stay. Other people wanted to engage. It was an instant connection, meeting people of different cultures and languages. We weren’t even communicating in the same language, but we still understood each other through yoga.

I did a work exchange program in Costa Rica, after a month and a half of my own travels and explorations. I went to PachaMama in San Juanillo, Costa Rica. I developed a sense of understanding on how to live yoga in my life. PachaMama means divine mother earth. I formed a dedication and commitment to give back to the earth. The practice isn’t just for me, yoga practice is a dedication to give thanks back to the earth. I taught at PachaMama. People live there all year round teaching. I learned different styles there – shadow yoga, which I learned there, is now driving my practice completely. In Costa Rica, you’re really in the jungle, immersed in nature. You start to pick up on how you can learn from nature. How you can move in the same way. My teaching style became an expression of how nature was at the moment.

traveling yoga teacher

I became inspired to keep teaching. I found out about PURE in Granada, Nicaragua, a peaceful sanctuary. At PURE I was teaching independently. I found my center there and a consistent schedule. I was the main yoga teacher, so I was teaching a lot. I got to take all the excerpts from my self study and implement them into my teaching flow. It really naturally came together.

Now I teach at Everyday People Yoga, based in Eugene, Oregon. It’s leading me into understanding how to live yogic life. Everyday People Yoga is a donation based yoga studio. They exemplify Seva – selfless service, and a true dedication to the yoga practice. They never turn anyone away. They want to start doing teacher trainings in Central America, and I’m going to be the studio owner’s helper.


In your words, what is a traveling yoga teacher?

A traveling yoga teacher is on an exploratory self-pilgrimage, deepening their understanding of the living, moving parts around them. Through travel, I found my place in the grand scheme of things. I got a sense of myself in the bigger sense of the universe. Teaching yoga in other cultures really teaches you how to become adaptable. How to adapt to make it feasible for more people to practice. One of the key components to being a solid teacher is being able to be adaptable. You might prepare, but the customer might be seeking something else. You need an awareness of what the collective group is needing to shift and serve them the best. You’re not there for your own practice, you’re there to serve. Teaching yoga is an act of service.

traveling yoga teacher

How do you stay grounded when you travel so much?

You’re going on a journey to relax, and then you miss the bus. Or you’re sitting on the bus with the sun beaming in your face, sweating, you want to lose it. But you can sit and close your eyes and start to find any way to breath that is controlled and focused. Try yogic breath. In and out through your mouth to get more oxygen. Or the breath of fire if you want to work out any frustration. It’s a test of the lessons of yoga. I am constantly having to stay connected to pranayama. It’s something I can do anywhere at any time, regardless of if you’re around others. Traveling is a challenge to the physical practice of yoga because there isn’t always a comfortable space to facilitate practicing.

Staying grounded is important. Pay attention to your dietary needs. Unsettled and unbalanced eating will make you feel cranky or tired. Continue keeping nutrition a key priority. You will feel more centered and nourished. Make sure you drink ample amounts of water. In the beginning of my travels, I wasn’t making it a priority. I wish someone had told me to bring a fat sack of almonds instead of that extra pair of shorts. If you’re using essential oils or tinctures, take those with you. They can bring you to a place of calm and connection.

traveling yoga teacher

How do you find a conscious community when you travel?

I found the PachaMama community by doing my own research. Once I was there I was connecting with people who had done a pilgrimage or vision quest taking the same journey. I was lucky to find myself positioned in a good spot, with a bounty of resources. Before understanding yoga and practicing it, I planned everything out, organizing, becoming stressed because I had to go here and there. Let it go. There’s no purpose to trying to plan it all out. If your gut is telling you something, that’s not there for no reason. That can guide you to find a community or connect you to other people.

Do some research – nowadays there’s a lot you can find. Connect with people. They told me about other conscious communities and other ways to keep traveling in that way. Trade your services to travel in a new way. Once you’re there, you have to put yourself out there. Have the confidence to show up by yourself. The door opens and the resources flood in. I didn’t know anyone or anything about PachaMama before I committed to two months. I was really shy at first, people knew each other, people were doing transformational work. Just trust into the natural process. Listen to guidance and take the initiative to unfold what you want from there.

traveling yoga teacher

What advice would you give for someone looking to do what you do?
Don’t over plan. I spent so much time reading about every last place, having an agenda or supposed itinerary. It was good that I educated myself to be reasonable about places that aren’t safe. Make sure you’re safe and aware. Then from there don’t over plan your itinerary. Shut the computer and stop. There’s so much more potential when you leave the door slightly open. Plan a bit, but leave room for mingling. You don’t know what opportunity is going to come from that. So many more things will unfold that you didn’t even imagine. Embrace uncertainty. We always want to know what we’re doing – it’s an uneasy feeling to not know. Challenge yourself, because that’s when exciting growth happens.

Be resourceful. Think outside of the box. If you’re a yoga teacher, maybe you do other things too. Make jewelry, offer massage, make homemade chocolates, play an instrument, offer the hostel work in exchange, use more than just your initial trade skill. Other things may come up – find other ways to trade. It will help you be more financially stable. It can’t hurt to ask. You never know how many people are going to say yes.

traveling yoga teacher
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How did you get the courage to become a traveling yoga teacher?

In the airport about to go to Guatemala, I was so nervous. I wondered if I should really do this when I’m not totally fluent in Spanish? I got on the plane, but I almost got off. I couldn’t calm myself down. The flight attendant asked what was going on, sat down with me and said ‘let’s just breathe together.’ Sometimes you need the support of someone else. You are in this space for a reason, you are meant to be here.

Be confident. Don’t second guess yourself. Get on that plane. Why did you think you wanted to travel? Trust your gut feeling – keep going with that. It’s awesome that you opened up enough to start listening to those cues that your gut is trying to tell you.

Even when things don’t work out, that was just an opportunity for growth. When something went wrong, I got stressed in the beginning. Then I realized it was meant to happen – it’s all good. Everything started to work out from there.

Becoming a traveling yoga teacher was a life shifting change. I’m really starting to be open to receive. Bounty is flowing in. All of my dreams are coming true.

traveling yoga teacher

Jackie McCarrick is a traveling yoga teacher, currently teaching yoga in Eugene, Oregon at Everyday People Yoga, a donation based yoga studio. Her curious soul and sincere gratitude for the path of yoga has allowed her to find her own rhythm in this flowing world. Her offering is to share the understanding of connection among all living beings. She holds profound respect for the unique qualities of each practitioner, allowing the structure of practice to fit the needs of each student in their present state. She feels honored to share this connection of mind, body, breath and spirit.