teaching yoga

If you want to become a certified yoga instructor or a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) with the Yoga Alliance, you will need to complete a comprehensive yoga teacher training program. Yoga instructor training programs typically range in length from two weeks to two years or more, depending on whether you are preparing for yoga certification, taking courses towards a degree program, or completing continuing education courses. These programs focus on the core yoga philosophy and way of life, as well as correct postures, breathing techniques and meditation. Successful completion of a formal yoga instructor training program can lead to certification or even a yoga therapy degree.

What to Expect with Yoga Teacher Training Programs

Teaching yoga is about inner transformation and enlightenment. Unlike regular yoga classes, yoga teacher training programs push the student to explore the field of yoga in depth and to participate in more intensive exercise and research sessions. Yoga teachers must learn how to develop self-awareness, knowledge and creative skills in their yoga practice, and also learn how to encourage this type of development in their students.

Experienced yoga teachers learn how to incorporate yoga practice into their daily life and adopt many lifestyle habits based on yoga philosophies. This may include practicing yoga throughout the day, participating in yoga retreats throughout the year, eating certain types of foods, practicing meditation and learning deep relaxation skills. Those who want to deepen their knowledge and experience with yoga can work towards becoming a certified yoga teacher or yoga instructor.

Some schools and training centers offer weeklong yoga instructor training programs, while others offer weekend training sessions and workshops where students earn a certain number of credit hours. Students who want to receive yoga certification and become a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) with the national Yoga Alliance need to complete at least 200 hours of training.

Sample Yoga Instructor Training Program Curriculum

Yoga instructor training programs cover the history of yoga, general teaching methodology, practicum anatomy and physiology, and breathing technique.

The curriculum of a standard yoga instructor training program typically includes the following courses and lectures:

  • Prana and breathing techniques
  • Sequencing
  • Relaxation and meditation
  • Styles of Hatha-Yoga
  • Karma and Dharma
  • Chakra balancing
  • Raja-Yoga
  • Jnana-Yoga
  • Nutrition

Some schools that offer yoga teacher training programs are registered with the Yoga Alliance. The Yoga Alliance provides support services and yoga teacher certification throughout the United States, and has partnered with select schools around the country to offer both certification and continuing education courses.

Students who wish to become a teacher must decide what style of yoga they want to study, what types of students they want to work with as a teacher, and what kind of class schedule they can manage with their current work schedule or other commitments. Answering these questions can help to narrow down the search of available yoga teacher training programs in their area. Some schools and training organizations also offer yoga teacher training online.

Online Yoga Instructor Training Programs

Students who prefer to complete a home study or distance education program can complete an online yoga instructor training program. These programs typically cover similar topics as an offline program, including yoga technique, methodology, anatomy and kinesiology, yoga philosophy, independent research study and electives. Some also include basic guidelines for chakra balancing, meditation and relaxation techniques, and education on growing a successful business as a yoga instructor.

After completing this type of program, students may be better prepared to take a Yoga Fitness Instructor Certification exam.

Yoga Teacher Certification

If you have been practicing yoga for several years and are interested in becoming a Certified Yoga Instructor or yoga teacher, you will need to complete a formal yoga instructor certification program. Yoga teacher certification programs are designed to deepen your knowledge and understanding of yoga and the yogic philosophy, and also help you develop the necessary skills for teaching yoga to others. Students who successfully complete a yoga teacher certification program can register with the Yoga Alliance to become a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) or take a certification program to become a fitness instructor and specialize in a certain type of yoga.

Types of Yoga Instructor Certification

Yoga instructor certification programs are available through the Yoga Alliance and organizations such as the American Fitness Professionals & Associates (AFPA). AFPA Yoga Fitness Instructor Certification courses are designed to teach students at various fitness levels, and cover all elements of yogic theory, breathing techniques, class formats and yoga positions. Certification programs available through the Yoga Alliance vary depending on the yoga style the teacher wants to focus on, and the type of class schedule the student can accommodate for. Students who need more flexibility in their schedules may take advantage of online yoga instructor certification programs.

Examples of yoga instructor certification courses include:

  • Yoga Fitness Instructor Certification for Beginner and Intermediate Students
  • Yoga Teacher Certification for Intermediate to Advanced Students
  • Yoga Instructor Certification in a particular style or specialty, such as:
    • Gentle Yoga
    • Fitness Yoga
    • Therapeutic Yoga
    • Power Yoga
    • Yoga Flows
    • Yoga for Seniors
    • Yoga for Children
    • Spiritual Yoga

Certification programs vary in length depending on the level and type of study the student wants to focus on. If you choose to obtain certification through the Yoga Alliance, you can complete either a 200-Hour or a 500-Hour training program. Completing any of these programs successfully gives you the RYT designation. Yoga teaching certification programs can also be completed online.

Costs of Yoga Teaching Certification Programs

The cost of a yoga instructor certification program varies by school and the level of instruction. As of 2011, most students pay between $750 to $3,000+. Advanced courses and full-day workshops may cost more, depending on the school or training center. Many yoga studios and training schools offer their own basic yoga courses for teachers or aspiring teachers. These are usually multi-day intensive courses where students must dedicate the entire day to their training. Certifying organizations may also provide DVDs, CD-ROMs and other training materials as part of the program.

Salary Ranges with Yoga Teacher Certification

Certified yoga teachers may be hired by a yoga studio or fitness center, but the majority work as independent contractors and are self-employed fitness instructors. If you want to teach yoga for a living, you could also take courses in business and entrepreneurship. Business skills can help you manage and operate your own yoga studio or market your services to fitness centers and individuals in their area. The median annual wages of fitness trainers in May 2008 were $29,120, but the annual wages of self-employed fitness workers may be much higher.

How to Become a Yoga Teacher