So, you have a love for fitness and health and you’ve been dreaming about becoming a yoga instructor. You might be interested to hear that there are no laws or regulations in the US at the moment that relate to yoga teachers. With no yoga certification requirements, that means that if you want to start teaching yoga, all you need theoretically is some willing students.
But is that really the best way to advance your career and become successful? The truth is that without any yoga certification courses under your belt, you’ll probably have a hard time finding students or a place to work.
Basic yoga certification programs are required by many gyms and studios before they’ll hire you as a yoga teacher. These programs also give your students an assurance that you understand the principles of yoga, you’ve learned how to run a class and prevent injury, and that you take your yoga instruction seriously enough to invest the time in yoga teacher training certification.
There are also specialty courses that will allow you to teach special populations, such as the elderly, pregnant women, postpartum women, children, back pain, and more.
How to Become a Certified Yoga Instructor
The Yoga Alliance was formed in 1997. It’s a non-profit membership trade and professional organization that sets minimum standards for yoga teacher certification programs. Some employers may require you to be certified with a Yoga Alliance approved program, while others may require you to be registered with the Alliance. Their baseline for becoming a certified yoga instructor is a 200-hour hands-on program. While you may be able to find shorter courses, these will not be recognized by the Yoga Alliance and may not be accepted by employers. There are many different schools that offer yoga certification programs, and these will vary in their requirements.
How to Choose a Course for Certification
We recommend that you get your yoga instructor certification from a Yoga Alliance approved course. These are the most widely accepted because they are well known and adhere to a minimum standard. They teach yoga history and philosophy, anatomy and physiology, exercise and relaxation, and teaching skills. But they may vary in other ways, including:
- Focus – The focus of the program will vary from course to course and you need to find the one that best suits your style as a yoga instructor. For example, you may be looking for a focus on traditional yoga concepts, such as Ayurvedic principles.
- Cost – The cost of these programs varies greatly and may be a factor in your decision. The yoga certification course cost can range from $1,500 to over $5,000.
- Location – You may be looking for a yoga course that is close to home and which you can conveniently attend after hours or on the weekend. Perhaps you’re looking for an intensive retreat experience out of the city.
- Teacher – You might like to attend a class where a yoga teacher you particularly respect was certified or you may be able to learn from a teacher you admire.
- Timeframe – There are many different ways that yoga training certification courses can be organized. The 200 hours can be spread out over a year or two with weekend workshops or night time classes, or you can join an intensive month-long retreat or join several long seminars.
- Online vs Offline – There are many courses that provide yoga instructor certification online. These offer the advantage of allowing you to learn on your own schedule, typically at a lower cost. However, Yoga Alliance requires a certain number of contact hours so if you’re looking for an approved course these will probably not fit the bill. You’ll also miss out on having an instructor critique and correct your work. If you’re looking for a quick course to give you the basics, online courses can be particularly useful.
To become a certified yoga instructor from a Yoga Alliance approved program, you’ll need to complete at least 200 hours of coursework. This includes contact hours and hands-on work. Some of these courses may have extra requirements, such as mentoring and class evaluations.
If you’re ready to take your yoga training certification to the next level, you should consider an advanced training program. These are 500-hour programs that will advance your skills and teaching expertise, allowing you to work with special populations.
This is important if you plan to work with children, in schools, with the elderly, with chronically ill people, pregnant women, and other specialized populations. You will likely be required to complete years of teaching and training to achieve the highest level of certification.
Where and How to Practice While Studying
200-hour courses are clearly not enough to make you an expert in a practice that is thousands of years old. The key to becoming a successful yoga teacher is practice. It’s important to find a mentor that you can work under and who can help you improve your skills. Practice yoga at home or with friends while you’re completing your course. The coursework will also often include mentoring and class evaluations. As soon as you’re certified, find a gym or studio where you can work under a master yoga instructor and continue to learn constantly.
First Steps Once You Are a Certified Yoga Instructor
Once you’re certified, and before you can begin work, you’ll need to be insured. Having insurance for yoga teachers will be a requirement of any studio or gym that’s worth working at and is an important way for you to protect your business while you work. You must then visit local studios. Don’t just send in your resume and hope for the best. Watch classes and get a feel for the center before sitting down with the fitness director to discuss working there. Observe and take classes continually to keep gaining experience on your journey upward in your career.