Kathryn Budig has created a career that’s the envy of yogis around the globe, but here she debunks some common misconceptions about what it means to be a big-name, internationally traveling yoga teacher.
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I’m a yoga teacher who travels for a living. I’ve see the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve been on the road since 2008, and I have been simultaneously blessed and cursed to have my local airport feel like an extension of my home. I taught local classes for years with the humble dream of hitting a few national studios a year and perhaps even a class at a big conference or festival.
That tater tot of a dream took hold of me, and before I knew it, I was fully committed to being on the travel circuit. I now teach internationally, at festivals and conferences and lead workshops, intensives, and teacher trainings for amazing students around the world. Here are a few myths I’ve learned along the way for anyone eager to pack their suitcase full of stretchy pants and see the world.
Myth 1: You’ll be super famous and make oodles of money.
Once upon a time, people wanted to become yoga teachers because they loved yoga and had a deep desire to share the practice. Nowadays, a frequent driving force is the desire for broad recognition and creating deep pockets. Current social platforms give yogis the ability to do this—building a brand on glossy, inspirational photos that acquires a large following, which often lands them invitations to join the travel circuit.
Here’s the catch: You might get invited to travel and teach, but you’ll only continue to get those offers if you’re incredibly good at what you do. If your sole inspiration is fame and fortune, it will reek worse than a yoga mat after a Vinnie Marino class. Teach because you love it and never stop being a student. Your offering needs to be way more than a dazzling smile and ridiculously flexible spine. Get insanely good at what you do, then get out there and you might score a solid spot on the travel circuit, a solid paycheck, and potentially garner fame—assuming that’s even a good thing.
Myth 2: It’s incredibly glamorous.
You’re going to wake up not knowing where you are, what day it is, or what time zone you’re in. Jet lag is not synonymous with sexy. Airplane rides dehydrate and bloat you no matter what class you fly. A lack of routine trashes your digestion (better pack those probiotics and enzymes). Healthy food on travel days is often limited to scoring a banana or apple. And missed connections, canceled flights, and no option but the local airport Holiday Inn are a major reality. (Oh, and those things normally happen after you’ve already been traveling for 3 weeks and are on the last leg of your trip with the taste of home on the tip of your tongue.) Get ready for exhaustion, depletion, and major frustrations.
Of course, also prepare to have friends all over the world and plenty of remarkable experiences. You’ll gain a better perspective on how small the world truly is and how connected we all are when you dissolve culture into the simplicity of unified humanity. It isn’t glamorous, but it is the gorgeous upside of an often rocky road.
Myth 3: You get to practice yoga all over the world.
I don’t even travel with a yoga mat anymore. You will be teaching and giving so much of your energy, that your spare time will be consumed by the need to rest, recharge, oh right—and eat! If I’m at a festival or conference and blessed with a small window of time, I normally take it for myself or slip into the back of a class to observe and take notes.
If you go into the studio early to squeeze in your practice, you can expect to be bombarded with questions from early arriving students. If you take a local class you’ll feel the weight of students’ gaze on you. If you like that kind of attention—you’re golden! If you prefer a more anonymous practice, stick to a routine in your hotel room (assuming there’s enough room to practice). Just be prepared for your personal practice to suffer on the road.
Myth 4: You’ll be sipping top-shelf kombucha in first class.
Most studios will cover your travel expenses, and trust me—that doesn’t mean upgrading your seat to anything beyond coach. If you want to roll first class in your shades, you’ll be paying out of pocket to look like a rock star. The yoga world will never pimp your ride or put you up at The Ritz. Expect basic fare, your local inexpensive hotel, or even bunking with your host.
Myth 5: It’s so fantastic that you’ll never want to be Home again!
One simple phrase should do the trick: There’s no place like home.
The world is a dazzling place—full of adventure, fascinating people with unbelievable stories, and a unified love for yoga. But let me tell you, nothing tops the clank of the stamp on your passport with the utterance, “Welcome home” or the twist of your hand as you unlock your front door and drop the weight of your trip from your shoulders onto the ground. Traveling the world will make you appreciate the simple things: a daily routine, your comfortable bed, even your dogs waking you up before you’re ready. We already have everything we need.
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About Kathryn Budig
Kathryn Budig is the yoga teacher behind AIM TRUE, a regular writer for Yoga Journal, and a presenter at Yoga Journal LIVE!