Meet Erica Hartnick, the water-lover globe trotter and founder of Yoga Trade, sharing her insights on the ways presence, awareness, and community can all have a place in the life of a business. She tells us about freedom and discipline, work and time in nature, and balancing all our projects and lives to grow as a human being and yogi.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
I think I wanted to be a lot of things! I remember wanting to be a travel photographer, a teacher, an architect, a dancer… I also remember at one point in the ‘80s wanting to be a businesswoman on Wall Street!? So not me today! Ha! I feel like I was all over the board and probably got a lot of my ideas from TV and the movies. 🙂
What are some of the choices you’ve made that made you who you are?
I remember when I was young making a committed choice to get really good grades in school so I could have a scholarship to go to college and leave my hometown. After college, I made a choice to not work a ‘conventional’ job and instead, chose to follow my passions of adventure and travel. I chose to work to live, not live to work.
I chose to work to live, not live to work.
I think these two choices have really shaped who I am today. The committed discipline early on gave me a strong foundation and focus, a good work ethic, and the opportunity to explore horizons beyond my small hometown. The choice to not work a typical 9-5 job allowed me to explore, to meet people all over the world, and to realize that we are the designers of our own lives and there are many ways to live outside of the ‘norm.’
What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Waking up to witness a beautiful and colorful sunrise. Morning quiet time with a warm beverage, journaling, and personal practice. Then off to a glassy fun surf with just a friend or two. Midday maybe linking up with a few friends for an explorative outdoor ramble or adventure. Helping to make a healthy and delicious community dinner to share with friends. Ending the evening sitting around a fire watching the stars, telling stories, listening to and making some music. Enjoying the simple life.
For me, a perfect day is any day when I feel like I am living in harmony with nature, I have some solo recharge time, and also spend quality time with friends and community.
What role does social media play in your life?
With the Yoga Trade business, it plays a significant role, but we try not to prioritize it. We make posts a few times a week and feel it is currently an important way to communicate globally. We try to not place too much emphasis on social media as we feel like it’s more important to tend to our website and real-life connections. We feel like social media is amazing and important, but best when used minimally. Setting the most effective and healthy boundaries with social media is a work in progress.
We feel like social media is amazing and important but best when used minimally.
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
To have the ability to stay underwater for long periods of time, like a dolphin or whale! Or maybe even to have gills. I am super fascinated with all there is to explore in bodies of water.
What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
Tough one? I don’t feel like I have had one great accomplishment. I think for me it’s been more of A LOT of small-medium accomplishments? 😉 Hopefully, the greatest is yet to come!
Tell us about Yoga Trade. How did you come up with the idea? Did a specific experience serve as inspiration for its creation?
I think all of our life experiences accumulate and, really, the story of Yoga Trade probably starts before I can even remember. For ease of this article, I’ll start in 2010. I was a new yoga teacher and eager to travel. I began to reach out to places around the world and asked if they wanted a yoga teacher to help out in exchange for room and board. This was pre-Yoga Trade so I would just Google my dream locations and send out a lot of emails.
I would work a seasonal job for part of the year, save money, and then take off and travel for part of the year, working along the way.
I got some great gigs and was able to travel to Costa Rica, Morocco, Indonesia, etc. I had lived and worked in ski towns in the U.S. for a long time and was very accustomed to the seasonal lifestyle. I would work a seasonal job for part of the year, save money, and then take off and travel for part of the year, working along the way. I eventually landed a volunteer spot at the Yoga Farm in Costa Rica, where I met my future Yoga Trade partners and now good friends, Pat and Christie.
In 2012, we all traveled to Bali. On the plane ride there, I woke up from a dream and had the idea to start a global yoga jobs network. I was filled with so much gratitude for the life I was living, and I felt a strong desire to give back somehow. I started writing and doodling about it in my journal. I eventually told Pat and Christie about the idea over dragon fruit smoothies in a cafe in Canggu. They loved the idea, and we decided right there and then to make it happen with our diverse skills and experience. It started out as a passion project, and we launched the first live site in 2013.
Who is Yoga Trade for? What are some of your hopes for people who use the platform?
Yoga Trade is for those looking for work-travel yoga opportunities or yoga-related jobs. We feel very strongly about inspiring people to follow their hearts and embrace ‘living yoga.’ The platform is also used by those looking for inspiration within the yoga and wellness field. Our primary members are newer yoga teachers who have the ability to travel for at least one month at a time and are looking to teach yoga in exchange for room and board at yoga centers, retreat hubs, and hotels around the world. It’s a wonderful way to gain teaching experience, to learn about other cultures, and to connect with the global yoga and wellness community. We hope that Yoga Trade connects people to meaningful offline experiences that will allow for people to gain wisdom, thrive, and flourish.
What’s your definition of mindfulness? What is the first step to becoming mindful in your day-to-day life?
Mindfulness is the awareness of the present moment. It’s becoming a nonjudgemental witness. It’s acknowledging and accepting thoughts and sensations that come up, and it’s a continuous practice. For me, a combination of quiet solo time in nature, meditation, and yoga help me to grow more mindful. I also have observed that if I start my day off with a mindful morning routine, it tends to stretch more easily into the rest of the day.
Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
I have dreamed for a while now to build a humble abode or maybe even some kind of wellness community center. A brick and mortar land project. A place that can be a personal home base, and can also bring groups of people together in inspiring and educational ways.
I haven’t started it yet probably because I am just making excuses. 😉 But these are reasons that come to mind: 1) I haven’t found the land that has spoken to me yet; 2) I feel stumped to know where to start with limited financial resources; 3) Part of me still isn’t ready to give up the wandering free spirit life. I feel this next phase is coming soon. 🙂
What is your no-fail go-to when you need inspiration or to get out of a creative rut?
Solo time in nature! Going on long hikes, sleeping outdoors, and spending time by bodies of water (ocean, lakes, rivers) has always been my best remedy for recharging and reigniting the creative flame.
Spending time by bodies of water has always been my best remedy for recharging and reigniting the creative flame.
If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner, who would it be?
One or all of my grandparents. All of my grandparents have passed on. I didn’t have the chance to know any of my grandfathers, and my relationships with my grandmothers were a bit limited. It would be nice to hear more of their stories, about their life experiences, about their own grandparents and more about the family lineage.
In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
Step 1 is usually to slow down and take some alone time. I often then turn to some kind of physical challenge to help build my confidence back up (like hiking a mountain or running a race). Journal writing for self-therapy and understanding. Being in a physical location I feel good in helps a lot: somewhere with lots of light, outdoor living, natural beauty, places to swim. Surrounding myself with inspiring people and learning new things.
A book or a film that transformed your life?
One book that I loved as a child and still do as an adult is The Little Prince. It taught me, starting a young age, to look beneath the surface, to keep the imagination alive, and to see with the heart instead of just the eyes.
What does the world need more of? Less of?
More love. Less fear.
Check out Yoga Trade’s Instagram for more and their website to start looking for your next yoga job opportunity!
Edited by Ely Bakouche