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Yoga Teacher Training

How to Become a Yoga Teacher

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Updated April 05, 2014

If you have gotten hooked on yoga and have been practicing regularly for a few years, you may feel that you'd like to complete a teacher certification course. Even if you do not plan on teaching, a good training program will deepen your practice and increase your knowledge of anatomy, philosophy, sequencing, and alignment.

Are You Ready to Become a Yoga Teacher?

Many training programs have minimum requirements for prospective trainees. These vary from program to program but typically include a recommendation that you have practiced for several years and have taken some classes with the teacher with whom you propose to train. Some students who love yoga and are unfulfilled by their day jobs hope that becoming a yoga teacher will offer them a way out of their job situations. Although things sometimes work out this way, be forewarned that most yoga teachers do not make a lot of money. Those teachers that do make their living solely by teaching yoga work incredibly hard at it in a profession where there are no health benefits, no 401k, no job security. On the other hand, lots of great teachers juggle a few classes a week while keeping their regular jobs. For more information, check out the stories of readers who have changed their career to become a yoga teacher.

What is a Registered Yoga Teacher?

In the United States, teacher-training programs that meet certain standards are registered by the Yoga Alliance, a nationally recognized organization. There are two levels of Yoga Alliance certificates- 200 Hour and 500 Hour, referring to the length of the program. Trainees first complete a 200-Hour program, which most yoga studios require as the minimum training for their teachers. Some teachers then choose to continue their studies by undertaking a 500-Hour training.

Upon completion of a Yoga Alliance registered teacher-training program, teachers may use the acronym RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) after their name.

Most specialized types of yoga such as Baptiste Power Yoga, Iyengar, Anusara and Bikram require that teachers complete a training program under their own auspices.

How to Find a Teacher-Training Program

If you practice only Bikram Yoga, your choice of a training program will be clear-cut. However, you practice vinyasa or hatha yoga, you will have a lot more choices. The most obvious place to start looking is at your favorite yoga center. Many yoga studios offer teacher-training programs, but take a good look at the curriculum before you sign on. With trainees paying thousands of dollars in tuition, yoga teacher training has become a moneymaking operation. So make sure any program you consider is registered with the Yoga Alliance. This will guarantee that you will spend a specified number of hours studying asana, teaching technique, anatomy, and philosophy.

You should also talk to your favorite yoga teachers about where they received their training. If you live in an area with no teacher-training programs, consider doing an intensive program at a yoga institute or ashram elsewhere. The Yoga Alliance website spells out their mimimum standards and can help you identify Registered Yoga Schools in your area.

Other Considerations

  • Cost – Expect to pay upwards of $3,000.
  • Schedule – Some programs are intensive, lasting only a month or two but meeting every day during that period. Other programs last six months or a year, but only meet in the evenings or on weekends.
  • Personality – Make sure you like and respect the head teachers; you will be spending a lot of time with them.
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