Maybe you’re here because you think you have what it takes to be a yoga instructor and you want more information. Maybe you’re new to the yoga world and have fallen in love with it and want to teach. Perhaps you just happened to stumble upon this article out of sheer boredom. Whatever the reason you’re here, read on because we have created a comprehensive guide for you on how to become a yoga instructor.
Below, we discuss what you do, who to certify with, how many hours of training you need and more.
Let’s get right to it…
What do yoga instructors do?
Yoga instructors are different from yoga teachers. Although, the terms are used interchangeably by yoga teachers and instructors alike. The major differences do not exist in the job title or their certifications but in their teaching styles. One isn’t considered better than the other and some students might prefer one style over another. This doesn’t make any instructor or teacher any less knowledgeable about yoga and its principles.
Yoga instructors learn yoga poses and philosophies and share that with their students. Typically, yoga instructors will lead a class by sitting at the front on their yoga mat. Their students replicate the instructor’s poses and breathing. The main objective of an instructor is to demonstrate, display, and instruct.
Yoga teachers by definition get certification or schooling. Generally, you won’t find a yoga teacher on their mat. They will be observing the class, instructing, and guiding the student into the poses. They may even offer modifications. Yoga instructors do know alignments, asanas, and poses enough to demonstrate; but they might not be able to execute those on every student.
Teachers are taught to help students find the correct poses for their body type and body limitations.
Yoga instructors have flexibility where they can work either full-time or part-time. Of course, this will depend on where they choose to work and how much money they want to make. Some may choose to work for a gym or studio. Others might take their approach and choose to work with clients one-on-one.
There are advantages and disadvantages when you choose to become self-employed. Advantages include you get to choose your schedule, hours you want to work, clientele, and salary. The disadvantages are you have to network and advertise heavily to get clients, you work a set schedule or inflexible schedule, salary is chosen for you, and some places may require certification or schooling.
Whether you choose to work for an established business or start your own, travel is essential. You may decide to open your own studio or location and have to travel for your students. If you choose a more traditional route, traveling to and from your place of work is a given.
Should You Become an Instructor?
There are things you should ask yourself before you become an instructor. The first being, why do you want to become a yoga instructor?
If your answer is for the money (it’s actually pretty good), then your heart might not be in the right place. Yes, you’ll make decent money but if it’s not something you plan on practicing daily or you don’t love it, you might want to look elsewhere for a job that will make you happier. It does cost money to become a registered instructor and does take time and practice as well so those are things to consider.
What’s Required to Become a Yoga Instructor?
Yoga instructors aren’t required to undergo any type of schooling or education program if they don’t wish to. However, most gyms and studios do ask for certification to be hired. You may get lucky and find a place that doesn’t or choose to become self-employed in which case you won’t necessarily need the certifications.
Should you want the certification for your own business and knowledge, or to work in a gym or studio, there are programs available. Those that wish to pursue their RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) should look into programs or schools that are RYS (Registered Yoga School) certified by the Yoga Alliance.
Yoga Alliance has a set standard for schools applying to be RYS and has high standards for their prospective students and teachers. To become an RYT there are a few steps you will have to complete. You’ll need to complete a 200 or 500 hour-program from one of the RYS. There are also membership and registration fees that will need to be paid.
This may sound overwhelming or not as easy as one thought. The goal is to ensure that yoga instructors are constantly developing and learning. The Yoga Alliance wants to maintain that all instructors are properly educated.
Yoga insurance is something that’s recommended, but we’ll touch on that later on.
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: Learn Yoga Basics
You don’t have to be an expert when first starting out. Learning at least the asanas and working on your poses as you go is a great first step. There are many styles of Yoga. It’s trial and error when it comes to the style that suits you best. Many start off by learning hatha yoga and discover other styles like Power yoga, Bikram, Vigorous Vinayasas, and Ashtanga.
Step 2: Research Yoga Teaching Programs/Courses
When looking for a course there are some things you should consider.
- What’s the reason you want to be a teacher?
- Your commitment type (i.e. not having much time for daily practices or courses)
- Can you afford the training?
- What style of yoga do you want to train in?
- Is an accredited school important to you?
- Type of program you want (i.e. online or in-person)
- How much experience do you have?
When it comes to choosing a program, you have the option of attending in-person or online. Both have advantages and disadvantages.
Online Learning Advantages:
- Learn from the comfort of your home
- Cost is lower
- Save time on commuting to classes
- Not being able to have human contact to know if you’re truly posing/aligning correctly
- Potential to delay time in completing the course because of life/no one to physically push you to get assignments done
- Delays in feedback or help from the teacher
- Being around other students to help with knowledge and support
- Receive immediate feedback from teachers and peers
- Able to ask questions directly and immediately to the teacher
- Planned academic schedule (i.e. learn at the pace of the group)
- Get to train in places all over the world
- More expensive than online programs
- May have to travel for the program
- Advanced courses require more time
Step 3: Complete a Teacher Training Course (TTC) or Program
Programs offer 200-500 hours. It’s recommended that the school you choose is certified by the Yoga Alliance and is a Registered Yoga School (RYS).
Step 4: Get Registered
Once you complete your program, you can register for a membership with Yoga Alliance. They have their own set of criteria that you must meet. You must complete your training at a certified school at the 200-500 level. Pay membership dues and fees. Continue your education credits.
Step 5: Acquire a Yoga Instructor Insurance
While Yoga insurance isn’t required for self-employment work, it’s highly recommended. Yoga accidents may occur if someone does an improper alignment or gets injured in some way. You can even get injured despite your experience. Having insurance to protect you should something go wrong only benefits you. In some cases, studios or gyms may require you have insurance to work there.
Step 6: Obtain Some Practice Teaching Yoga
Once you finish your program, you may feel eager and excited but also experience a lack of confidence. One way to gain some confidence is by constantly teaching. Offer free classes in your town or teach your friends and family. The more you practice, the better you’ll become.
Another way to gain practice is by attending workshops, lectures, or other teacher’s classes. You have to balance your practice time with your teaching life. Attending other classes will also strengthen your knowledge and yoga ability which you can pass along to your students.
Step 7: Search Out Job Opportunities as a Yoga Instructor
First, decide if you want to proceed as a self-employed instructor or work for someone else. If your goal is to work solo, then you can begin hosting online classes or host free classes to build up a clientele. Once you have a solid network built up, you should see some financial results.
On the flip side, you can work for a gym or studio. The upside for working for a business is a steady paycheck, scheduled hours, and clients are given to you. The best part about being an instructor is that you have the flexibility to do what works best for you. Depending on where you work will determine how many classes you can teach. You may even decide to do a combination of working independently and working for a gym for extra income.
Step 8: Pursue Continuing Education Credits
When you register with Yoga Alliance, you’re required to complete a set number of hours of continuing education credits. Every RTY must complete at least 75 hours of continuing education credits within three years of their registration date. A brief rundown of what is required is listed below.
- 45 hours of teaching yoga
- 30 hours of training must be related to their Educational Categories
- 10 of those hours must be contact hours
- No more than 20 of those 30 hours may be non-contact
- Hours completed before registration to Yoga Alliance won’t count
- Additional hours won’t roll over to the next three-year-period
Yoga Instructor FAQ’s
Why does it take 200 hours?
Yoga Alliance wants to ensure that all teachers and instructors of yoga have a solid foundation. The 200-hour mark signifies that you have learned asana, anatomy, pranayama, meditation, teaching skills, and yoga philosophies.
Can a beginner do yoga teacher training?/ Do you have to be really experienced at yoga to become an instructor?
A beginner can take yoga teacher training courses. Everyone and anyone can take these courses. While it’s ideal you have some foundation by being someone who already practices, it’s not required. You will be taught the necessary techniques and fundamentals to teach others.
How long does it take to train to be a yoga teacher?
It varies. Many factors go into how long it may take you. One is the cost of a program. You may only be able to afford so much of a program before you have to stop and save to continue the next step. Another huge factor is your time commitment.
You might be pressed for time and can’t partake in more rigorous or daily classes. This will set you back some time as certain specialties require weeks of strict dedication. The last that may affect you completing on a certain time frame is the type of program you’re in.
If you’re in an online program, it could take longer due to them being self-paced. Life can also get in the way. If you’re in an in-person program, you are on a set schedule that can cut down some time.
How much does it cost to become a yoga instructor?
Costs will vary based on the type of program you are taking. Specialties can also influence the cost. For example, online programs are cheaper than in-person programs. The school you choose can influence the cost as well if it’s overseas. Generally, programs run from $200 to $7,000 so there’s a wide range.
What do I need to know about yoga teacher training programs?
Each program is different from another. There’s not a set way to train someone aside from doing the actual poses. This leads to a widely different experience from program to program. Some programs may overlap or be similar due to the teacher’s experience or what they prefer to follow. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that but as a teacher, you want to bring something new to the table, so to speak.
You’ll have to decide whether you want to study abroad, online, or near your home. Many factors will influence your decision. Each one will offer you a different experience and comes with its own set of unique challenges and benefits. For example, while training in Bali sounds like heaven on earth, it won’t do much for you if you’re looking for a job in your hometown. Training near your home might make it easier to get a job.
How much can I earn as a yoga instructor?
How much money you make will vary on several factors. How much you work, where you work, and who you work for will determine your salary. The average runs a little over $24/hr to as low as $12/hr. You can always increase your income by working more hours, working for a different company, gain more of a following, or combine private work and working for someone.
Is it illegal to teach yoga without any certification?
That will depend on where you live. Some states treat yoga training schools the same as trade schools and regulate them. Others require no certification at all. Be sure to check your state laws before teaching yoga without a certificate.
Before you begin your journey on how to become a yoga instructor, you should look at the reasons why you want to be one. Yoga instructors have job flexibility that other careers don’t offer. But money shouldn’t be the only reason that you get into the field.
It takes hard work, dedication, and training to become a good teacher. You wouldn’t want a surgeon that didn’t have any education to work on your body right? If you felt you learned all there is to know on how to become a yoga instructor, share the post with your friends or other aspiring teachers.