yoga instructor

Ashtanga Yoga

If you are interested in offering Ashtanga yoga classes at your yoga studio or fitness center, you will need to complete a formal Ashtanga yoga teacher training program. Ashtanga yoga is a system of yoga that incorporates a series of eight different poses and requires advanced skills and training. The Ashtanga yoga instructor training programs are usually offered in two formats: classic training, designed for students who want to incorporate Vinyasa yoga into their practice; and fundamental training, which is a good match for students who are new to yogasana.

What to Expect with Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training Programs

Ashtanga yoga teacher training programs train students how to execute various poses, and also how to incorporate yogic philosophy and lifestyle concepts into their daily routine. Students learn how to impart this specialized knowledge to their own students, and how to develop their yogic philosophy and skill set.

Not all yoga training centers and schools offer Ashtanga yoga instructor training programs, so some students may need to travel out of their city to complete their training, or complete an intensive training workshop over a week or weekend at another locale. Many schools and training centers that offer a formal Ashtanga yoga teacher training program also offer certification classes and four-week intensive training programs that lead to certification.

Some schools that offer this specialized training only accept students that have included basic certification courses from a Yoga Alliance approved school. Students who choose to complete their instructor training at a retreat or through an intensive training program at a training center, may be required to attend a certain number of teaching skills workshops, participate in master yogi-led Ashtanga yoga classes, as well as meditation and chanting rituals.

Classes in an Ashtanga Yoga Instructor Training Program

Ashtanga yoga is becoming extremely popular and instructors who are trained in this specialized type of yoga may be able to attract and retain more students when offering it at their own yoga studio or a fitness center. Ashtanga yoga can be performed independently and in a group setting, but most people need to first learn the series of poses with the help of an experienced Ashtanga yoga teacher.

Many Ashtanga yoga instructor training programs include the following classes:

  • Yogasana
  • Mantra and Japa
  • Yogic philosophy
  • Ashtanga yoga teaching techniques and methodology
  • Pranayama and Mudra
  • Adjustments and teaching techniques
  • Anatomy and ayurveda
  • Meditating instruction

Most advanced practitioners recommend practicing Ashtanga yoga poses at least three times, and up to six times per week. In order to lead an Ashtanga Yoga class effectively, the student must learn how to properly sequence each move and focus on the principles of Vinyasa (the movements between each psotruep performed). They also learn the importance of sound-induced breath (Ujjayi Pranayama), the gaze (Drishti) and the three locks or seals (Bandhas).

Aspiring teachers are also encouraged to chant the Yoga Sutras, practice meditation, and maintain a vegetarian diet and lifestyle. Ashtanga yoga requires ongoing practice, and many instructors and teachers can continue their training by taking courses in their area, and by practicing the technique at home.

Kripalu Yoga

If you’ve already completed yoga teacher certification and training programs, you can increase your knowledge and offer another type of yoga to students by completing a Kripalu yoga teacher training program. Kripalu yoga instructor training programs are 200 or 500 hours in length and some training programs prepare you to register with the Yoga Alliance as a registered yoga teacher (RYT). These specialized yoga teacher training programs are only available at select yoga studios and training centers around the country. These do require in-classroom attendance and participation, and adapting to the yogic lifestyle.

What is Kripalu Yoga?

Kripalu yoga is based on the principles of yoga asanas. The Kripalu methodology has been used for over 30 years by the Kripalu School of Yoga. This type of yoga uses press points, proper alignment and other techniques to help the practitioner develop witness consciousness and experience self-compassion. Most kripalu teacher training programs include the practice of yogic breathing techniques, and also teach students how to connect with the life force that serves as the inherent wisdom of the body.

Kripalu yoga emphasizes movement inquiries and prana-initiated movements. It also helps to increase self-awareness and encourages the practitioner to rely on personal experience and body sensations, rather than just thinking through and mentally focusing on each movement. Combined with relaxation and meditation, this form of yoga encourages the development of self-awareness and mindfulness.

Most Kripalu yoga classes run about one hour to 90 minutes in length, so prospective teachers are trained to design inspirational and creative class schedules and a curriculum based on the average yoga session.

Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training Courses

The Kripalu School of Yoga offers a comprehensive kripalu yoga teacher training program that includes courses and activities in the following areas:

  • Teaching safe and inspirational yoga classes
  • Creative warm-up and cool-down techniques
  • Benefits of classical yoga postures
  • Effective posture sequencing
  • Motivating students
  • Clarification of contraindications
  • Creating lesson plans
  • Principles of anatomy, physiology and kinesiology
  • Pranayama techniques
  • Relaxation methodology
  • Mediation methodology
  • Micro-movements
  • The koshas
  • Guided imagery
  • Nonjudgmental awareness
  • Natural alignment principles

Prospective teachers learn how to guide students through each yoga pose, execute various types of breathing techniques, and also create a deeply restorative shavasana as part of their relaxation and mediation practices. The entire training program promotes the development of self-awareness, as well as focusing on the safe execution of various yoga poses.

Completing Kripalu Yoga Instructor Training

Some studios and training centers that offer Kripalu yoga instructor training programs automatically enroll students who have successfully completed their training in the Kripalu Yoga Teacher Association (KYTA) organization. This organization provides ongoing training, workshops and educational materials for yoga teachers how want to continue growing their teaching practice in this specialized type of yoga.

The minimum content hours for a 200-Hour Kripalu yoga instructor training program, as determined by the Yoga Alliance, are as follows:

  • Instruction in Yoga Asana, Pranayama and Meditation: 100 Hours
  • Teaching Methodology: 30 Hours
  • Anatomy and Physiology: 20 Hours
  • Philosophy, Ethics and Lifestyle: 30 Hours
  • Practicum: 15 Hours
  • Other: 5 hours

Students enrolled in a Kripalu yoga instructor training program may also be required to read books and materials provided by the training school or studio. These materials complement the training received during the Kripalu yoga teacher training program.

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini yoga is based on an ancient form of yoga practice and was introduced to the west during the late 1960s by Yogi Bhajan, founder of the Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization (3HO). If you want to teach Kundalini yoga at your yoga studio or offer Kundalini yoga classes at a fitness center, you will need to complete a formal Kundalini yoga teacher training program.

These training programs help students develop their skills in awakening each of the seven chakras using different types of breathing techniques and movements, and also guide students through each movement effectively. Kundalini yoga instructor training programs can be completed online or offline, and some schools and training centers award a certificate upon completion.

Completing a Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training Program

A Kundalini yoga teacher training program may run 200+ hours in length, and some studios and training centers offer accelerated, multi-day training sessions. Many of these training programs also require the completion of a 40-day or more personal practice so that the student has the chance to practice different techniques and obtain mastery of their skills. Training programs that are approved the Kundalini Research Institute (KRI) are considered acceptable by most yoga studios and fitness centers. When you complete these programs, you will be granted the KRI Teacher designation.

The KRI Level One Aquarian Teacher Training Program is a 220-hour certification program in Kundalini Yoga and is based on the teachings of Yogi Bhajan. This Kundalini yoga teacher training program consists of an interactive curriculum comprised of classroom instruction, independent study, a 40-day meditation, and White Tantric yoga. This type of Kundalini yoga instructor training program also fulfills the 200-hour requirement to become a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) through the Yoga Alliance.

Kundalini Yoga Instructor Training Courses

The KRI Level One program teaches the following six principles:

  • Kriya and Meditation – the foundation of Kundalini Yoga
  • Humanology and Philosophy – the lifestyle of a Kundalini Yoga teacher
  • Anatomy and Physiology – essentials of yogic and functional anatomy
  • Consciousness of a Teacher – virtues and value sof living in the Golden Chain and tips for developing a successful yoga practice
  • The Master’s Touch – cultivating a connection to Yogi Bhajan
  • The Practicum – gaining practical experience teaching a yoga class under the supervision of an experienced KRI Yoga Teacher Trainer

Some of the key courses taught in a Kundalini yoga teacher training program include:

  • Meditation and the Mind
  • Science of Breath
  • Yogic Philosophy
  • Sound and Mantra
  • The Origin of Kundalini Yoga
  • The Seven Chakras
  • Yogic and Western Anatomy
  • Kriyas and Meditation
  • Posture and Exercise
  • Silence and Intuition
  • Infinite Experiences

Most Kundalini yoga teacher training programs also include personal mentorship, home study projects, and some tuition fees include a one-year membership with the 3HO International Kundalini Yoga Teachers Association (IKYTA).

Enrolling in a Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training Program Online

If you don’t live near a school or yoga studio that offers a Kundalini yoga teacher training program, you may be a good candidate for an online training program. Online training programs can provide you with a general overview of the Kundalini yoga style, techniques, history and postures, but you will still need to practice different postures and complete lessons with an experienced instructor.

Keep in mind that most online programs do not provide certification and may not be acceptable forms of training by some fitness centers or yoga studios. Online courses may include DVD and CD-ROM training materials, online videos explaining each pose, and reading materials that provide in-depth information about the practice of Kundalini yoga.

Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa yoga is a form of Ashtanga yoga that uses several “connecting posture” techniques to perform a series of seamless movements. If you want to teach Vinyasa yoga at your yoga studio or fitness center, you will need to complete a formal Vinyasa yoga teacher training program that will help you develop some fundamental breathing and posture techniques, and also inspire others to learn and adapt to the yoga lifestyle.

Most Vinyasa yoga instructor training programs are approved by the Yoga Alliance. When you successfully complete this training program, you will receive a certificate that states you are qualified to teach Vinyasa Flow Yoga at a studio, fitness center or workshop venue of your choice.

About Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training Programs

Vinyasa yoga teacher training programs are typically 200 hours in length and incorporate several hours of intensives study and practice. In addition to adopting some of the basic yoga philosophies and integrating them into your curriculum, you will learn the basics of meditation, chanting, relaxation, class sequencing and planning. Some of the key courses and training requirements required for the Yoga Alliance Vinyasa Yoga Teacher training program include:

  • History and Philosophy of Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Sanskrit Names for Various Yoga Poses
  • Practice of Asanas (postures)
  • Anatomy
  • Yogic Diet Principles
  • Chanting Techniques
  • Pranayama
  • Teaching Yoga as a Business
  • Yoga Class Observation
  • Teaching Practicum
  • Class Sequencing and Planning

Students enrolled in a Vinyasa yoga teacher training program may also be required to purchase a set of books and journals to complement their training. Some training centers and studios include books and other materials in the tuition, others do not. Venues that offer tuition, board and lodging as a package may also offer unlimited yoga classes during the student’s training period. This gives the student plenty of time to learn different poses, work with a variety of students and other teachers to practice their yoga technique, and learn from different instructors.

Perfecting alignment, learning some key techniques in the ancient art of breathing (pranayama), and understanding the different patterns and flow postures of Vinyasa yoga are essential for success as an instructor or teacher in this field.

Completing Vinyasa Yoga Instructor Training

One of the fundamental concepts of Vinyasa yoga is how to breathe through each movement. In this type of yoga, the practitioner must learn how to let different breathing patterns lead the way. The practitioner must learn how to be in harmony with their own breath and execute each movement and hold each posture for various sequences.

Vinyasa yoga instructor training programs help the teacher develop their own skills and further their own yoga practice, and also learn how to modify various poses used in other forms of yoga so that they are synchronized with the breath. The daily schedule for the 200 hour Vinyasa yoga instructor training program typically includes the following:

  • Sunrise meditation
  • Yoga practice before breakfast
  • Healthy breakfast
  • Training session before lunch
  • Lunch
  • Training session before break
  • Optional evening yoga classes
  • Healthy dinner
  • Free time

Trainees who are commuting to and from a yoga studio or training center may only be required to attend formal training sessions and will not need to pay for the cost of meals and other activities.

Hatha Yoga

If you have been practicing hatha yoga for several years and are interested in teaching this type of yoga to others, you will need to complete formal hatha yoga teacher training program. Hatha yoga instructor training programs give students a chance to develop their breathing and movement techniques, and also increase their skills in activating Kundalini energy. Hatha yoga comes in many different varieties, so teachers may have the chance to specialize in a particular area.

About Hatha Yoga Teacher Training Programs

Hatha yoga is just one system of yoga that includes a series of physical exercises and specialized breathing techniques. Hatha yoga is also known as “forceful yoga” because it requires the practitioner to push themselves physically and to incorporate some deep and heavy breathing techniques into each exercise. Students enrolled in a hatha yoga instructor training program learn how to develop their techniques and create a curriculum for their own students.

Most hatha yoga teacher training programs require the completion of 200 hours of training, which includes classroom training, demonstrations, study of yoga scriptures, meditation and observation. Some schools require students to attend a multi-day workshop, spend time in an ashram and work with other yoga professionals in their community. They may also be required to critique yoga classes and attend networking events. Most yoga instructor programs also include a self-study portion. Some training programs lead to certification, but most students who complete a specialized hatha yoga teacher training program are already certified to be yoga instructors and complete this type of training to offer specialty courses at their yoga studio or a local fitness center.

Courses in a Hatha Yoga Instructor Training Program

Some of the key courses in a hatha yoga instructor training program include:

  • The Six Shatkarmas (physical and mental detox practices)
  • Yogasana (different types of yoga positions)
  • Pranayama (pranic awakening)
  • Mudras and Bandhas (psycho-physiological energy release techniques)

Hatha Yoga Teacher Training Program Options

In addition to completing a hatha yoga teacher training program at a yoga studio or a yoga school, some teachers choose to attend an intensive workshop that spans over a week or ten days. These yoga retreats are usually residential programs where students can learn the key concepts of hatha yoga, develop their skills, and really live the yoga lifestyle with other practitioners. If you are interested in this type of program, make sure the program has been approved by the Yoga Alliance and that you understand what the fee structure is.

The fundamental goal of practicing hatha yoga is to purify the mind and body so that it becomes easier to balance the chakras and activate kundalini. All of this leads to the process of self-realization. Some of the different categories of hatha yoga practice include:

  • Shrishti Krama hatha yoga – stimulates physical, mental and spiritual growth
  • Siksana Krama hatha yoga – developing pranayama practices and controlling the bandhas
  • Rakshana Krama hatha yoga – maintaining good health through hatha yoga practice and adopting deep relaxation techniques
  • Adhyatmika Krama hatha yoga – based on more spiritual practices of yoga, to develop spiritual strength and a deeper connection
  • Chikitsa Krama hatha yoga – focused on the healing benefits of yoga, regaining balance and getting rid of negative energy and dysfunction
  • Shakti Krama hatha yoga – focuses on developing personal power (Shakti)

Different yoga schools and training centers offer variations of these specialized programs, and some only offer a more general hatha yoga teacher training program. You may need to research several different schools and training centers in your area to find the best match. It’s also important to make sure that the program has been approved by the Yoga Alliance and/or the Yoga Register. Some training programs are available in an online format, but you will need to attend a yoga studio or training center for the practicum portion and to gain experience.

Bikram Yoga

Bikram yoga, also known as “hot yoga”, is a growing trend around the United States and has become a popular choice for yoga enthusiasts who want to detox, burn calories and try something new. Hot yoga teacher training programs provide classroom and yoga studio instructor for yoga practitioners who want to teach Bikram yoga at their yoga studio. Since this type of yoga can only be performed in a heated room, the aspiring teacher must practice in an official Bikram yoga studio. The Yoga Alliance does accredit various hot yoga programs around the United States, and most are 200 hours in length.

Enrolling in a Hot Yoga Teacher Training Program

Teachers considering enrollment in a hot yoga teacher training program need to choose a training school that has been approved by the Yoga Alliance, and find one that they can afford. Many schools and training programs include DVDs, CD-ROMs and other instructional materials so that the practitioner can complete some training and lessons at home. Some Bikram yoga training programs are spread out over a course of several weeks and months, while others are more intensive training session that run for about a week or ten days.

In addition to the basic curriculum, some of the fundamental components of a hot yoga teacher training program include:

  • Immersive learning experience where students go on a journey toward deep self-exploration and an overall transformation
  • Defining and improving posture techniques
  • Applying the principles of yoga to daily life
  • “Awakening” the teacher within
  • Learning how to build confidence in others and lead a group successfully
  • Understanding the fundamentals of yoga postures, including neutral alignment, breathing and anatomy
  • Exploring all aspects of yoga philosophy, including the chakra system, Ayurveda and the different branches of yoga

Bikram Yoga Instructor Training Program Curriculum

Bikram yoga is a high-energy form of yoga that focuses on developing strength, flexibility, balance and overall wellness. Practitioners learn how to pose and breathe in a very hot room so that they can work deeply into their postures and perform very deep stretching and toning exercises. This entire process helps to detoxify the body and may also help some people increase range of motion.

Some of the key courses and concepts taught in a hot yoga teacher training program include:

  • Verbal Instructions for Bikram Yoga
  • Vocal Skills, including word choice and volume for the hot yoga studio environment
  • Kriyas (purification and cleansing of the body)
  • Pranayama (breathing exercises that promote relaxation)
  • Meditation to increase self-awareness and also to practice stillness
  • Yoga History and Yogic Philosophy
  • Anatomy of Yoga
  • The Business of Yoga

The Official Bikram Yoga Teacher Training Program

The practice of Bikram Yoga consists of 26 postures and the specific sequencing has been developed by Bikram Choudhury. This type of yoga is an extension of hatha yoga and the series of movements is designed to help the practitioner maintain optimal health, remove dysfunction in the body and increase functionality of the organs, muscles and joints.

Teachers how want to become certified in Bikram Yoga can attend the official Bikram Yoga Teacher Training program, a nine-week course led by Yoga Masters Bikram and Rajashree Choudhury and their staff. This program does lead to certification and includes training in the areas of anatomy, asana, therapeutic applications, nutrition, and the health benefits of yoga. Students can also attend Bikram’s Posture Clinic to perfect their technique and get immediate feedback from experienced instructors. This program is scheduled at various intervals throughout the year in Los Angeles, California. There is a formal application process involved for admission to the official Bikram Yoga Teacher Training program.

Prenatal Yoga

Women in the birthing field and professional yoga instructors can enroll in prenatal yoga teacher training program to teach yoga to pregnant students. These specialized training programs teach students how to integrate traditional yoga poses and exercises into a routine that will not hurt or harm the fetus or the pregnant mother. Prenatal yoga teacher training programs also include training for mothers who are interested in postpartum fitness and the routines are designed to help the body heal and recover naturally after delivery.

Enrolling in a Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training Program

Some prenatal yoga teacher training programs are recognized by fitness and health organizations, including the ACE. Prenatal and postnatal yoga programs must conform with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) safety guidelines for exercise while pregnant. Some also meet th requirements and standards of reputable organizations such as the AFPA and the AFAA.

Anyone interested in completing a prenatal yoga instructor training program can also attend workshops and single-day instructional sessions to learn some of the key techniques and exercises, and to broaden their knowledge of the prenatal yoga style. Some training programs are available as a home study or online course so that students can complete their training at their own pace. These are typically only available to registered yoga teachers and certified yoga instructors.

Components of a Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training Program

The primary focus of a prenatal yoga class is to prepare the mind and body for a healthy labor and recovery. The different exercises and poses in a prenatal yoga program help the mother-to-be release tension, maintain a good posture, relax naturally and maintain a positive outlook as she goes through the different stages of pregnancy.

Prenatal yoga teachers are trained to guide the mother-to-be through different exercises effectively, learn all types of standing, seated and lateral poses, and also help her develop focus and relaxation skills. Women who take prenatal yoga classes also learn how to practice meditation and relieve stress naturally, and practice various types of breathing techniques to “hug” the baby as they exhale.

Prenatal yoga instructor training programs encourage teachers to empower yoga practitioners by tapping in to their body’s inner resources and wisdom for the birthing process. Students learn how to perform special asanas and breathing techniques that will promote a healthy birth, and also cultivate mindfulness and self-awareness in the soon-to-be mother.

Prenatal Yoga Instructor Training Program Courses

Some of the courses available in a prenatal yoga instructor training program include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology of Pregnancy
  • Anatomy and Physiology of the Birthing Process
  • Appropriate Prenatal Yoga Asanas
  • Pranayama
  • Childbirth Preparation Exercises
  • Contraindicated Poses
  • Common Problems Associated with Pregnancy and Exercise
  • Yoga Therapeutics during Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Yoga Teacher Responsibilities
  • Birth Ball Routine
  • Chair Yoga for Pregnancy
  • Meditation for Pregnancy and Birth
  • Leading a Yoga for Labor Course or Workshop

Some prenatal yoga teacher training programs are only offered at select times of the year, while others are offered year-round as a home study course or at a local yoga studio. Continuing education for existing prenatal yoga instructors is also available at some schools. Most home-study programs can be completed in up to 10 months, while in-studio courses may be completed within a few weeks.

A portion of most yoga instructor training programs does require observation and a practicum, so students need to be prepared to attend prenatal yoga sessions and workshops in order to fulfill their educational and training requirements.

Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar yoga teacher training programs prepare yoga students to teach the key principles of Iyengar yoga, one of the many disciplines of yoga, and also develop their own skills and deepen their knowledge of yoga in the process. Iyengar Yoga poses and exercises typically incorporate everyday items such as doors, chairs and tables and promote strength and flexibility. Paying attention to form, increasing muscle strength and developing self-awareness are some of the fundamental goals of Iyengar Yoga exercises.

Iyengar yoga instructor training programs help students develop the self-discipline, skills and techniques a student needs to increase flexibility and encourage weak areas to strengthen. The result is a realignment of the whole body and a state of relaxation shortly after the session.

Enrolling in an Iyengar Yoga Teacher Training Program

Iyengar Yoga teacher training programs are only available at some yoga studios and fitness centers around the United States. As of 2011, there are approximately 300 certified Iyengar Yoga teachers in the country. Most Iyengar Yoga teacher training programs require about 400 hours of training so prospective teachers need to make sure they have the time and resources available to commit to this type of plan. Many Iyengar Yoga teachers and students undergo several years of training before they even consider getting certified.

Many yoga studios and training centers require the student to have been practicing Iyengar yoga for at least three years. Some Iyengar yoga instructor training programs take up to three years or more to complete, and students are required to take weekly courses, attend weekend workshops and retreats, and participate in Iyengar yoga classes to gain practical experience. Students are also required to practice on their own time. Self study and practicing at home can help to build the individual’s skills and also deepen his or her knowledge of yoga.

Only certified Iyengar Yoga instructors are allowed to use the Iyengar name when promoting and advertising their classes.

Iyengar Yoga Instructor Training Program Curriculum

The typical Iyengar Yoga instructor training program curriculum consists of the following courses:

  • Fundamentals of posture and breathing techniques (asanas and pranayamas)
  • Yoga history, philosophy and ethics
  • Practice of teaching asanas and pranayamas
  • Anatomy and physiology associated with yoga practice
  • Personal practice
  • Basic adjustments and the use of props in Iyengar Yoga practice
  • Basic therapeutics
  • The role of Ayurveda and yoga
  • Developing communication skills to give clear instructions

Some training centers and yoga studios also require students to complete an examination component. The exam might consist of writing a theory paper, demonstrating asanas and pranayama, and demonstrating teaching skills. Ultimately, it is not as important to just log in a certain number of hours to meet requirements, but more to focus on the quality of the practice and ensure that the prospective instructor has the necessary skills and knowledge to share the teachings of Iyengar Yoga with others. Practical experience is essential for all Iyengar yoga instructor training programs, and ensures that the instructor can communicate with students effectively, lead their own class, and also encourage the development of the yoga lifestyle in others.

Cost of Iyengar Yoga Instructor Training Programs

Iyengar yoga instructor training program fees vary significantly depending on the location of the training facility or yoga studio, and the level of instruction the prospective teacher will receive. Some students choose to travel to India to work with well-known yogis and practice Iyengar Yoga in a dedicated studio. Others find a yoga teacher training program in their area, or travel out of state to attend an intensive, multi-day training session, workshop or retreat that may lead to certification.

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