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How to Become a Certified Yoga Instructor

Find out how to become a certified yoga instructor. Research the training requirements and learn about the experience needed to advance your career in yoga instruction.

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Do I Want to Be a Yoga Instructor?

Yoga instructors guide students in yoga practice; they help students learn poses and use the correct forms of each. Yoga instructors may also provide guidance in yogic philosophy as well as areas complementary to yoga, such as nutrition and meditation. Professionals in this field teach group classes, workshops or one-on-one classes at yoga studios, fitness centers and related facilities. Yoga instructors may work full- or part-time, and some are self-employed. Depending on their employer and the yoga class schedule that's established, instructors can work daytime, evening, night, weekend or holiday shifts. Travel isn't uncommon, whether it's among several locations of a gym or clients' homes.

Job Requirements

Most aspiring instructors gain their skills through yoga teacher training programs. Certification isn't required, but many employers prefer teachers who are registered with the Yoga Alliance. The following table contains the core requirements for yoga instructors:

Common Requirements
Degree Level Most teachers complete short-term postsecondary training programs**; associate's or bachelor's degrees in a fitness or health field may be helpful*
Degree Field Yoga teacher training; exercise science or kinesiology*
Certification or Registration Optional, but preferred by employers**
Experience None for some entry-level positions, but many employers look for instructors with 1-5 years of experience**
Key Skills Strong speaking and communication skills, motivational skills*
Additional Requirements CPR certification**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Job postings (August 2012).

Step 1: Learn Yoga

Aspiring instructors should take courses in varying types of yoga to understand which style works best for them. Different types of yoga include:

  • Ashtanga
  • Anusara
  • Hatha
  • Vinyasa
  • Bikram

In addition, the style of instruction may vary by facility and teacher. Aspiring yoga teachers should pay attention to these differences in order to find the type of training that fits them best.

Success Tip:

  • Find a mentor. A mentor can help aspiring teachers learn about various teaching techniques and styles of yoga. In addition, mentors can help aspiring yoga teachers decide which training program is most suitable.

Step 2: Complete a Teacher Training Course

Yoga teacher training includes coursework in anatomy and physiology, instructional techniques and yoga philosophy. Students gain hands-on experience by observing teachers and teaching classes themselves. Many schools adhere to the guidelines set by Yoga Alliance for 200-hour and 500-hour teacher training programs.

Success Tips:

  • Network with teachers and peers. Yoga teacher training does not guarantee a job. Students are advised to network with classmates and faculty while in school.
  • Know your market. Competition among yoga teachers is strong in some areas. Aspiring instructors may consider a unique approach to distinguish themselves from other teachers. For example, depending on the market, teachers can offer yoga tailored to golfers and other types of athletes.
  • Become certified in CPR. Most health and fitness centers require that instructors have the skills to deal with a health emergency by being certified in CPR. Students can take a CPR course while enrolled in a teacher training program.

Step 3: Get Registered

Students who complete programs that meet the guidelines set by Yoga Alliance can apply for the organization's Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) credential. Registration is voluntary, but many employers prefer credentialed instructors.

Step 4: Earn Continuing Education Credits

Most professionals in this field attend workshops and seminars to keep their knowledge up to date. Teachers registered with the Yoga Alliance are required to complete 75 hours of continuing education every three years. This includes teaching yoga for 45 hours and attending additional classes for 30 hours. RYTs who meet certain experience and education requirements can pursue advanced credentials.

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