Share Your Light While Traveling The World With Yoga Trade

Share Your Light While Traveling The World With Yoga Trade

By Patricia Gums

Many of us experience the notion of "wanderlust", German for "a longing for far-off places". I pretty much start planning my next vacation while still on vacation. I had the great pleasure of speaking with Erica Hartnick, who took this concept to the next level by combing wanderlust with her other passions: teaching yoga, mindfulness and surfing. Erica and her partners Patrick McMahon and Christie Carr created a global online wellness community with Yoga Trade. Yoga Trade links instructors, students, and wellness professionals with work trade and job opportunities around the globe, currently featuring work trades in Bali, Tanzania, Nicaragua and the United Kingdom.

PG: How long did it take you from the inception of the idea to the first yoga/trade exchange?

EH: I completed my first yoga teacher training at Yandara Institute in 2010. After that, I had a strong pull to follow my passion for travel and surfing and wanted to gain experience teaching yoga. So I just "googled" dream places that I wanted to go and sent out emails asking if they would like to have a yoga teacher come on a work exchange. I didn't have much of a budget to travel, and wanted to have purpose and not travel aimlessly. After much persistence and many emails sent out, I began to get some replies from places that were interested in having me come teach yoga in exchange for room and board. So I followed my heart and gut, and the exploring, teaching path, and yoga trading began!

PG: What is your favorite yoga/trade story?

EH: I had the idea for Yoga Trade on the airplane on my way to Indonesia in 2012. I was half asleep on the plane, when I woke up in a jolt with a flash of insight to start a worldwide yoga jobs community. I got out my notebook and started doodling and writing down brainstorming ideas. I was on my way to teach "yoga trade" (although this name had not yet come into fruition), at Togat Nusa Resort in the Mentawai Islands. My month spent on that tiny island with creators John and Ainsley Ocean was amazing. I learned a lot about myself and the world. They even had a pet monkey, "Beaker" who would routinely rummage through my toiletry bag:) I had the opportunity to surf some of the best waves of my life there, connect with some amazing people, and see life on the opposite side of the world that I am from. I then went to Bali for a few weeks to connect with my good friends, Pat and Christie from the Yoga Farm in Costa Rica. Over dragon fruit smoothies in Canggu I told them about my idea to create a global yoga and wellness jobs community. There was an immediate spark and we all decided together that we would make it happen!

Yoga Trade has since been a slow and steady unfolding and a creation of a beautiful community. There are many amazing stories shared by 'yoga traders' and their experiences. Click here for one of my favorites.

PG: Do you still teach?

EH: Yes! I think I will always teach, even if it is just once in a while. I am currently teaching outdoor yoga and mindful adventures in Lake Tahoe, CA. I will be teaching in Costa Rica again next high season, December through May. I still live quite a nomadic/seasonal life, but I have strong roots in Tahoe and Costa Rica. You can find more info at my personal site:

PG: How did you find yoga hosts? What was process?

EH: When we first started Yoga Trade, we sent emails to all of our contacts and connections to see who would like to become a Yoga Trade host, or provide an opportunity. Slowly over time, the word began to spread organically, and now hosts/opportunity listers make postings on their own. When people make a listing/posting it goes to the queue and we edit them first (make sure they are good people/no spammers, etc). Yoga Trade is the 'go to' site for international yoga and wellness jobs. Although many of the listings are 'work trade' and travel opportunities, there are many paid positions as well.  

PG: How many countries do you currently represent? How many participants, hosts?

EH: These numbers change daily. We have postings from all over the world...Just in the last few days we have had opportunities listed from; Nicaragua, Tanzania, Bali, Canada, and the United Kingdom. We currently have a community base of approx. 25,000 and growing.

PG: Do you feel like the luckiest person alive having creates this project and the life you live, in CR and CA?

EH: I do feel very grateful! I honestly feel like it was a calling to help create this wellness global community. I see it as an act of service and am devoted to doing my best with it. Being able to spend so much time traveling, exploring my home state of California, and living the pura vida in Costa Rica is amazing. I do feel like a new chapter/nesting phase is about to emerge and I will settle down in one place for a bit.

PG: What have you learned during the process of building the site and global community? What is the most unexpected thing that happened?

EH: I have learned that persistence is key! Sticking with it through the tough times has made all the difference. My partners and I built the community from ground up with our love, time, and dedication. The grass is greenest where you water it. We don't really have expectations, so nothing that unexpected has happened yet:)

PG: Is this a labor of love or can you and your partners financially support yourself with the site?

EH: Yoga Trade started as a passion project in 2012. We worked on it for about 3 years in our free time, not paying ourselves much of anything. Within the last year, we have been able to compensate ourselves for our work with some of the energy flow that is coming in through the Passport memberships. At this time, we all still have other jobs as well to help support ourselves. We hope that within the next year we will be able to dedicate ourselves full time to the community. It is all a learning experience, as we are learning many new things as we go. It's exciting.

PG: How has your life changed since Yoga Trade?

EH: My life hasn't changed too much except for one thing: more tech. My biggest passion has always been connecting deeply with nature, and I love living 'offline', being in the ocean, in the mountains, in the trees....I still spend a huge amount of my time doing this, but to be able to maintain the website and community I have taken on a lot more computer/tech time than ever before. I have learned a lot from this about setting boundaries and maintaining balance. Technology is an amazing tool if used minimally and with balance. Our idea with Yoga Trade is to have it be a powerful online tool/platform that connects people to transformational OFFLINE experiences. I do feel blessed with an overwhelming amount of support and connection thru this global yoga community.

PG: Is there anything else you would like to add?

EH: Share your light!

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