What Skills are Required to Be a Yoga Instructor?

It is no secret that the yoga industry has experienced significant growth in recent years, thanks to a number of factors. But it may surprise you to learn just how explosive the yoga boom has been. A $5.7 billion dollar boom, that is. That is the estimated value of the annual market for all things yoga-related. And it is still growing.

Approximately 1 out of every 12 adults in the United States practices yoga. 25% of people practicing yoga have household incomes of more than $100,000. As the incomes of many people rise, leaving them with more time on their hands, many turn to yoga. This trend is further boosted by the increased interest in health and wellness. More and more health practitioners and insurance companies are recognizing yoga’s health and therapeutic benefits.

There are yoga facilities, schools, classes, and stores everywhere. There are yoga vacations, yoga classes on cruise ships and in spas, stores selling yoga clothing, mats, and other equipment, and with the increase in demand for qualified yoga teachers, we have even witnessed the emergence of yoga teacher agents!

The market for yoga instruction and yoga-related products will no doubt continue to grow worldwide and, especially, in North America and Asia.

Yoga Instructor Schools and Courses

If you have been practicing yoga for several years and are interested in teaching the yoga lifestyle and various disciplines to others, you will need to obtain certification from a Yoga Alliance-approved yoga teacher school. Yoga instructor schools and training centers typically offer weekly and monthly courses for aspiring yoga teachers, as well as multi-day residential yoga retreats that provide training towards certification. Those who choose to specialize in a certain type of yoga may be required to take advanced courses in their field and also work towards certification.

Attending Yoga Teacher School

The typical yoga teacher training course program is 200 hours in length, but some advanced training programs are up to 500 hours or more in length. Attending a yoga teacher school offers many benefits and can help an individual build their yoga skills, develop strong communication skills, and also network with other aspiring yoga teachers.

The first step in attending yoga teacher schools is to decide what style of yoga you want to teach. Some of the most common styles include Ananda, Ashtanga, Bikram, Kundalini and Power yoga. More styles of yoga are listed below. You will also need to decide what type of time commitment you have available, and if you would be able to attend a workshop or a retreat for an intensive training session that would require traveling.

Some yoga teachers prefer to work with a specific population, such as pregnant women or seniors. Find out if the yoga teacher school you are interested in offers specialized training for a specific population, and what the requirements are to enroll and complete these types of programs. Yoga teacher school locations typically include a fitness center, health center or a yoga studio, but instruction may also take place in an ashram or at an instructor’s home. If you choose a residential program, you will be required to maintain an Ayurvedic or organic diet throughout your stay, and meals are typically included within the program.

Yoga Instructor Schools Curriculum

The curriculum at yoga instructor schools typically depends on the type of yoga you are interested in, and the length of the program. Make sure that your school of choice is a Registered Yoga School with the Yoga Alliance. These schools have met all Yoga Alliance standards and offer a robust, in-depth curriculum.

Most yoga instructor school curriculum and yoga teacher training courses are either classroom-based or require students to participate in a yoga class to learn key skills. Some yoga teacher training programs are offered online and as distance-learning programs, but many of these are not approved by the Yoga Alliance and do not carry the RYS designation. Consider your individual learning style and schedule when you are registering at a yoga instructor school.

Types of Yoga Teacher Training Course Programs

Students enrolled in a yoga teacher training course program can choose to specialize in a number of different types of yoga after completing their basic yoga teacher certification. Yoga instructor schools typically offer training in the following areas:

  • Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training
  • Kripalu Yoga Instructor Training
  • Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training
  • Hatha Yoga Instructor Training
  • Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training
  • Hot Yoga Instructor Training
  • Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training
  • Iyengar Yoga Instructor Training

Yoga Instructor Training Courses

The most common types of courses available through a yoga instructor training program include:

  • Origins of yoga
  • History of yoga
  • Pranayama – Yoga breathing techniques and vital energy
  • Asanas
  • How yoga works
  • The ten bodily systems
  • Body mechanics
  • Meditation
  • Awakening the body’s intelligence
  • Prolonging vitality through yoga
  • Internal yogic cleansing techniques and best practices
  • Different yoga styles
  • Developing a personal yoga practice and living the “yoga lifestyle”

A good portion of the yoga teacher school curriculum also focuses on communication skills and developing an effective communication style when teaching yoga. Teachers must learn how to communicate with different types of students, how to address common problems associated with different exercises, and also learn how to develop effective lesson plans for their own courses.

Students who successfully complete a yoga instructor school training program are eligible for certification and may receive the Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) designation.

What Skills are Required to Be a Yoga Instructor?