How to Become a Yoga Instructor

Vidya Heisel
These days, with Yoga continuing to grow and flourish in the Western World, many enthusiastic yoga practitioners consider the possibility of becoming a Yoga teacher. Check out this survey by Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal, which documents the growth of Yoga in recent years in the USA.

Where to start?

A 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training is considered to be the industry standard for a foundational Yoga Teacher Certification. This can be accomplished by searching for a suitable programme that works for you.

It is possible to complete a 200 hour training over the course of the year, usually at a studio that offers weekend modules, or as an intensive in a three or four week format. We have found that removing the student from the distractions of their everyday environment, and putting them in a beautiful, peaceful place enhances and optimises their learning ability. During an Intensive Yoga Teacher Training, you will be fully immersed: talking, thinking, and breathing Yoga with fellow yogis. This is considered by most participants to be a magical and transformational journey.

How much does a Yoga Teacher Training Cost?

Prices for trainings vary and usually intensives will be more expensive, as you will be paying for food and accommodation during your immersion. Prices for TTC intensives will also vary according to the type of accommodation and quality of the food and environment. Some YTT’s might offer shared tents and others might offer deluxe rooms. Prices can vary greatly, usually anything between 2,500 Euros-10,000 Euros.

What is Yoga Alliance?

There is Yoga Alliance, which is USA based and Yoga Alliance Professionals, which is UK based. They are two unique unconnected bodies, which recognise and give creditability to Yoga Teacher Training Courses. They are private companies and do not represent any legal status regarding Yoga Teacher Trainings. They are considered helpful to the Yoga Industry, in a s much as they help to set standards for YTT programmes and recognise courses which are complying with their standards.

The requirements of Yoga Alliance Professionals are more stringent than those of Yoga Alliance USA. They both consider themselves as international, so you could register with either one of them, or both. British Wheel of Yoga is another similar organisation with more stringent guidelines for TTC’s.

As a certified Yoga teacher you are not obligated to join any of these bodies. You will still be a certified Yoga Teacher even if you don’t. Joining one of these bodies will make you a registered Yoga Teacher.

Yoga Alliance USA permits you to write RYT 200 or RYT 500 after your name to advertise how many hours of training you have completed. They also have the designation E-RYT 200 and 500, which is the experienced teacher level.

Similarly Yoga Alliance Professionals suggest you write SYT after your name to designate Senior Yoga Teacher.
Both Yoga Alliances offer special deals on Yoga Teacher Insurance and will list you on their website.

It is helpful for the training you take to be recognised by one of the above bodies, as that allows you to automatically register with them, for an annual fee.

Can you teach after completing a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training?

This really depends on the quality of your training and how much effort and energy you put into it. One of the most important things is to practice teach right away after completing the training. The more you practice, the better you will become. You can also ask one of your Yoga teachers if you can assist his or her classes, so you can practice assisting without needing to teach at the same time.

You may also find studios who are willing to let you teach some donation based “community classes”, which will help you to get more experience under your belt.

Another very important tip is to keep attending classes and keep studying. A 200 hour training is really the beginning of your teaching career and it is important to know that it is a foundation which you need to keep building on. If you are determined and diligent about continuing to study, you will be successful.

How much does a Yoga Instructor Earn?

This will vary a lot depending on your location and your teaching abilities. A great Yoga teacher is not necessarily someone with a really good practice, but someone who really cares about and engages with their students.

Learning how to give good cues and instruct skilfully takes time and energy, but it is not rocket science. If you really want to teach and you put in the work and practice, you will be able to be a full-time Yoga Instructor and make a liveable income. You will probably not get rich teaching yoga, unless you are very skilled at marketing, social networking and have an amazing practice, but there are plenty of teachers out there making a decent living.

It makes sense in the beginning to go through a transition period of continuing another career simultaneously, and gradually as things progress, making the transition to being a full-time Yoga teacher.

Ten important questions you should ask before signing up for a Yoga Teachers’ Training

  1. Who is the lead Teacher and is he or she well qualified to lead a training? 
    How long has he/she been teaching? (Obviously, the longer the better). And how much of the program is actually being taught by the lead teacher?   

    Some programs do not have the lead teacher teaching a substantial part of the course. (I once attended an intensive program that was mostly led by someone who graduated from the programme one year before. The main teacher advertised only made minor guest appearances!).

  2. How long has the program existed? How many students have already been trained? 
    The longer a programme has been around and the more students who have graduated the better it is likely to be. You can assume that many of the kinks have been ironed out.

  3. Who is teaching the anatomy section and what experience do they have? 
    Often times the anatomy section can be poor and/or boring or not really relevant to Yoga. Make sure the person teaching the anatomy section is a Yoga teacher.

  4. How many teachers are on staff? 
    A ratio of one teacher for every 10 students is good. Make sure the main teacher will be available to give personal attention and to guide you through the experience.

  5. Will you be ready to teach by the end of the program? Some programs require additional projects on completion of the training, which may be valid and helpful. Inform yourself if anything else will be required before you can start teaching.

  6. Will you have taught one or more full classes to your classmates by the end of the training? Make sure that you will have this experience, as this will give you the faith in yourself to go out and start teaching.

  7. Does the teacher offer any mentorship after the training?
    If you need help or advice is there someone you can talk to after the program?

  8. Is it possible to speak to graduates of the program? 
    Sometimes it is helpful to be able to contact a few graduates of the program to ask them about their experience.

  9. What style of Yoga is being taught?
    Make sure you are familiar and comfortable with the style of Yoga, which is being offered in the training. Be wary if the course is offering multiple styles of Yoga. That could be confusing for a beginning level teacher.

  10. How long is the program? 
    If it is the basic 200 hours and it is an intensive it should not be taught in less than three weeks. Do the mathematics!

See our upcoming trainings at Suryalila here
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Vidya Jacqueline Heisel
Director of Suryalila Retreat Centre and Frog Lotus Yoga International,
Yoga Teacher Trainings.

This article was first published in The Om 
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