Interview with Lindsay Nova, a one-woman spiritual circus
Today, I have the greatest pleasure to introduce you all to a badass gal who is making her way around the globe as a digital nomad and yoga teacher. Lindsay Nova is a beautiful soul who is working hard to spread her teachings, positive vibes, and dreams with the world. In today’s interview, Lindsay shares what led her to traveling full time and how you can do it too! She also offers tips on staying healthy and maintaining her spiritual practice on-the-go.
Such a blessing it has been to meet such a phenomenal person! Social media can sometimes get a bad rap, but I am grateful for having tools such as Instagram to connect me with fellow travelers, like Lindsay. I had been following her journey on Instagram as a total stranger when she mentioned that she would be visiting Hanoi coming up. I enthusiastically commented that I was currently in Hanoi and would love to meet for coffee when she gets here. Thus, our friendship began!
It is refreshing to speak with someone else who knows the struggle of balancing this crazy digital nomad life with a spiritual twist. How on earth can we stay fit and healthy, connected with our friends at home, working remotely, exploring new terrain, and managing to look cool on Instagram while doing it?! Conclusion – we often don’t 100% of the time. It is about balance and learning to accept that we can’t do it all, but that doesn’t stop us from being traveling rockstars!
Without further adieu, let’s meet Lindsay:
It is so fun when I get to meet others who are digital nomads. It is even cooler to meet traveling yoga teachers who are staying healthy on-the-go. I work a variety of jobs in order to travel. You seem to be juggling different work too! What kind of work are you doing that allows you to explore the world?
L: I would have never thought in a million years I would be living as a digital nomad, and yet here I am. Years ago I started writing for some online clients when I needed some extra cash. It seemed like only a glimmer in my mind that I could actually sustain myself off of it. But something in my soul certainly stirred and the universe said “yes” to this adventurous lifestyle I lead after I took a leap of faith last year. To be honest, it is not always easy to travel full-time, work overseas, AND stay healthy. It requires real effort and dedication! It’s hard to maintain a decent diet, workout regimen, positive attitude, and steady workflow while site seeing and experiencing new cultures. Instagram and other social media make it look like all glamorous and fun, but a lot of sweat and laptop time goes into those beautiful scenes we all post. But thanks to the internet, I can sustain myself overseas and meet kindred spirits such as yourself- and thanks to Instagram for that one, too!
I think that a big part of being happy and healthy is actually doing something with your life that has meaning. This is also called following your dharma (life calling). Dharma is a big part of what I teach as a yoga teacher.
Right now, I primarily work as a contracted yoga teacher at resorts and studios throughout the world. On the side, I freelance as a writer for several online publications, websites and mobile apps. This comes in handy since I often have short breaks in between contracts (usually up to a month). I focus on yoga, meditation, Pilates, and other health-related type of work as that is my specialty and I know that I perform better when I am writing about something I love!
I also run all of my own social media and am currently developing my own blog. My blog will feature articles about mindful travel and content for traveling yogis/yoga teachers. I also have a background in dance and circus, so I occasionally get gigs to fire dance or perform aerial at various events as I travel. I always have my hula hoops, fire fans, and aerial silks with me!
Lindsay, you mentioned that you never really expected this to be your lifestyle a couple years back. I think the majority of us who travel full time have a story of what led us to completely abandon contemporary life for this exciting, sometimes chaotic, life of travel. What was your inspiration to leave your life in California?
L: I have always wanted to travel the world for as long as I can remember. I have always been fascinated by cultures and knew from deep within my being that I needed to experience what I call the “spiritual energy centers of the Earth” like Machu Picchu, Tikal, and Angkor Wat. Little did I know that I would get to all 3 in the span of less than a year!
I began applying for international jobs about 2 years before I actually landed my first one. I spent a little time floating around the United States teaching yoga and performing until life quite literally slammed me in the face. I felt there was no better time than that moment to pursue what I really wanted to do, which was to live and work abroad. At first, it was only supposed to be for 3 months and I had no real clear plan. However, I continued to land more work and learned how to support myself online quickly.
In the end, my true passion is sharing yoga with others. Helping people to be in their bodies and better understand themselves through movement, breath work, and meditation brings me joy. Plus, teaching on a global scale increases the audience for my teaching. I truly believe that each and every one of us has the power to heal whatever shadows we face in our life, and yoga helps us uncover and face them.
Many people go on retreats or vacations to de-stress in beautiful places, and practicing yoga in such environments can be truly transformative. If they can take back even a small bit of mindfulness into their Western fast-paced world, then I feel like I have made a difference that goes beyond just practicing yoga in a gym or studio. There is something magical about practicing yoga outdoors next to the ocean or in the mountains. That magic stays with you when you leave, and it is my greatest hope to impart that to my students.
I completely agree with you on the magic staying with you after travel!
You mentioned earlier that staying healthy on the road can still be a major challenge. You are also, what I like to jokingly call, a “flexitarian” which means that while eating vegan is the ideal, you are flexible within the realm of pescetarianism (vegetarian, plus fish). Have you found this to be challenging while traveling?
L: Yes, definitely! I always have an immense amount of respect for my full-time vegan friends who travel. Sometimes when you travel, you are left with very little options that can sometimes be unhealthy or you may not eat at all. For instance, tonight I am catching a very late train here in Vietnam. I wanted to get something to eat, but absolutely none of the nearby street food vendors had anything remotely vegetarian (all of the soup broths were cooked in meat). Therefore, I decided to buy some fresh jackfruit and jackfruit chips and am hoping that I don’t get too hungry on this 15 hour journey.
I love calling myself a flexitarian because I believe in eating what your body needs. For me, this is practicing ahimsa (non-violence and being kind to my body’s needs). If my body needs some meat, particularly near my moon cycle, then I will have meat. It also depends on the location of where I may be at that time. I was teaching in Sri Lanka at Talalla Retreat for 3 months which is right on a fishing beach and we had fresh fish all the time. In this instance, I felt okay eating the fish since I knew where it came from, but definitely had to watch the tuna consumption!
At the same time, I have also found many places to be vegetarian-friendly and often seek out vegetarian/vegan restaurants while I travel. I have a soft spot for veggie burgers and love trying all the different varieties around the world!
Most recently I completed a 7-day juice colon/liver detox on the island of Koh Phangan, Thailand. It was a great experience and there were 3 vegan restaurants within walking distance of each other so it made breaking the fast very easy. In fact, I decided to spend a few extra days there just to eat the amazing food! It was a great way to reset my health after traveling for over a year.
Speaking of travel struggles, just last week you experienced an unfortunate event of having some of your cash and debit cards stolen. What other challenges would you want new travelers to be aware of and what is the advice you might have?
L: As a solo female traveler, my friends and family were definitely concerned about me leaving the United States at first for an extended amount of time. I also travel exclusively by myself. This means I definitely have to be mindful of my things and my surroundings at all times. Unfortunately, in last week’s incident, someone actually broke into my locker at a hostel I was staying at. Even even though I was being careful in locking my stuff up, there wasn’t anything I could do about it in the end. Ultimately, I’m grateful my laptop wasn’t stolen since I work online!
I almost always travel with my laptop and iPad in my laptop bag and keep them close to me at all times. This has meant sometimes using the toilet with my bag on! I also wear a Burning Man-style belt bag at all times when I travel, which are more fashionable than the usual “fanny packs” you see tourists wear. They have internal pockets for your passport, cash, and credit cards, so I highly recommend those to prevent theft. I will also say that I feel much safer now that my phone is unlocked. I can get a local sim card at the airport upon arrival and call my friends and family from almost anywhere, at any time.
One challenge I run into quite often is keeping up with the amount of writing work I have while I travel. What this means is that I work a lot while I am in transit between places. I have worked on buses, planes, trains, airports, and then, of course, beautiful places like beaches and mountainside coffee shops, too! If I know I’m going to be somewhere without wifi, I will plan to work offline by putting all of my Google Docs I need for the trip offline and then work on my iPad. Definitely not for those who get carsick on crazy bus rides, though!
Another challenge of traveling full-time is staying consistent with a yoga, fitness, or meditation practice. Being on the move and in unfamiliar places definitely gets in the way sometimes. I have learned to be “flexible” (no pun intended) with how I get my practice in. I have practiced on trains and meditated in dorm beds and on top of mountains after hiking. I make an effort to get something in every day, whether it’s a 5 minute ab routine or a short japa meditation with my mala beads- but on days I’ve had to catch a 3 am train for a 15-hour ride and I know I’ll be staying at a hostel without much privacy- I just have to accept that I may not get a practice in that day.
Luckily, I’m also super active in other ways when I travel, often hiking, biking, or surfing. So in my book, a rest day is okay every now and then. Not to mention, yoga is more than just asana- there are 7 other limbs, after all! So I may use some of this traveling time to work on my own self-goals and habits, which the yamas and niyamas definitely help to shape.
This probably goes without saying, but I, of course, also miss my family and friends. My nomadic lifestyle makes dating and/or long-term relationships difficult, but again- thank goodness for technology! Loneliness does happen sometimes when I am traveling by myself. Luckily when I do my contracts, I am situated in areas where I can build a community over a few months which helps to alleviate that.
Oh girl! I feel ya on the struggle of missing loved ones and nomadic dating. It is something I am still adjusting to!
As you mentioned before, one of the ways you are able to travel so much is by teaching yoga on a contract basis in different countries. I would love to do this one day! Could you share some advice for other yoga teachers looking to teach outside of the US?
L: Absolutely! Teaching yoga overseas has become a very popular- and coveted- career option for many. There are resources online, such as Yoga Trade, that you can use to find jobs ahead of time. The first thing you need to do is get your resume together and a well thought out cover letter. Your CV should state who you are, why you want to teach there (i.e. in a foreign country), and what can you bring to the table (what makes your yoga special?). Even better if you have traveling experience!
If you haven’t traveled much, but think the yoga + travel life is for you, I recommend just hopping on the travel train and seeing where it takes you! It is completely possible to create opportunities at studios as you travel. You could always reach out to studios beforehand and try to set up some workshops. This does require a little more effort on your end, though. Who knows, you may even find a sweet hostel or resort to teach at for awhile if you want to be based somewhere! The truth is many places are looking to work with teachers who are already in the area/nearby/have a plane ticket/travel plan and/or may have some experience with different cultures/weather so there are no “surprises”.
In the end, you may just have to book a trip in order to find your dream yoga job along the way! I have written an article about this whole topic over at my friends The Yoga Nomads.
The other recommendation I have for those interested in pursuing a nomadic yoga lifestyle is to offer more than just yoga. For example, I also teach aerial yoga, so at my last position in Sri Lanka, I brought my aerial silks with me to offer private lessons. They were so popular that I taught at least 1 per week, which generated a nice amount of extra revenue for me (and the resort I taught at). If you want to make this longterm, I suggest finding a way to generate a second source of income. This may be through online work or passive income because teaching yoga alone is not enough in the long run.
In addition to teaching globally, it sounds like you are in the works of planning your first retreat. So exciting! Tell us a little bit more about what you are planning to do and how your retreats may be different from others.
L: Yes, I am! I am really excited to be planning my first retreat in beautiful Sri Lanka! Like I’ve said, I just spent 3 months there and absolutely fell in love with the country. It’s not as touristed as other destinations (yet) and is like an undiscovered gem! I will be offering the first oceanfront aerial yoga retreat in the country at Talalla Retreat May 20-26, 2018 where we will be exploring the 5 tattvas, or elements, of earth, air, fire, water, and ether through our bodies in classes, workshops, and excursions throughout the week.
This has been a dream of mine for quite some time that I am excited to bring to fruition! I hope to continue offering transformational retreats around the world in many of the countries I have visited previously. I have been ‘scoping out’ potential venues (and always looking for ones that can hold aerial rigging! 😉 ). My retreats will all feature more than just yoga- future retreats will also offer hoop dance, shamanic medicine ceremonies, and other creative movement expressive therapies to create a truly well-rounded mind-body-soul experience for those who participate.
Of course, I would love for my readers to follow you on social and have a way to connect. Especially if they are interested in your amazing retreats (I know I am). How can they find you on the web?
L: To sign up for my aerial yoga retreat, head over to my website LindsayNova.com. Keep up with me on social media by following my Instagram @LindsayNova or my Facebook Page. You can also check out my YouTube channel for performance videos!
Lindsay, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions today. I know your advice will be super helpful to my readers and I am so grateful for our new friendship!
Now, we would love to hear from you! Do you have dreams of traveling the world or working remotely, but something is holding you back? Are you curious about solo travel or how to carry a yoga mat through the airport? Comment below! Lindsay and I are happy to respond with our advice and ideas.
As always, thank you for visiting my blog! Don’t forget to sign up for my email newsletter to keep up with me and get some personal insight on travel, healthy living, and life that I really only talk about in my emails.
Namaste <3 Taryn
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