How Can I Become a Yoga Instructor

If you are truly interested in becoming a yoga instructor and after practicing the discipline with serious dedication you feel ready to impart your wisdom on others, there are several paths you can take toward this end.

The Yoga Alliance credentials represent the dominant road to achieving a teaching post as a yoga instructor in the US today. It is not the only route. Some schools do not require a certification but only proof of proficiency in the practical aspects of yoga and the ability to teach. The ancient traditional route requires training from a guru.

You may choose the route of obtaining a yoga certification from an accredited yoga teacher training program. A certification that meets the standards of the Yoga Alliance allows you to then apply as a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT). Some schools require a Yoga Alliance registration of all their yoga instructors. Many schools seek a registered yoga school (RYS) classification from the Yoga Alliance.

Tips to become a yoga instructor

Standards for Teaching Yoga

The Yoga Alliance was born in the late 1990s to set and ensure a minimum set of teaching standards for yoga instruction across America. They maintain a registry of certified instructors (RYT) and schools that have earned registered yoga school (RYS) credentials.

The instructor training standards set forth by the Yoga Alliance are as follows:

  • 200 hours for RYT credentials
  • 500 hours for RYT 500 classification - more advanced
  • 1000 hours for E-RYT, lead trainers and at least 2 years of teaching    

The Yoga Alliance standards are widely accepted and include children's and pre-natal teaching standards. The instructor standards include the categories: mantra, chanting, asanas (posture), meditation, kriyas (completed action) and pranayamas (breath). This represents only a portion of required training. Additional training requirements include anatomy and physiology, ethics, lifestyle, philosophy and teaching practicums.

Western Schools of Yoga

There are several approaches to yoga as taught in the Western world. Most of these are based on Hatha Yoga. American schools usually embrace one particular approach to yoga according to the following categories:

  • Bikram Yoga, developed by Bikram Choudhury and follows hatha yoga
  • Vinyasa Yoga, also referred to as "breath synchronized movement."
  • Ashtanga Yoga presented by K. Pattabhi Jois, focuses on detoxifying the body.
  • Anusara Yoga presented by the American, John Friend
  • Hatha Yoga often considered the original ancient style

A teacher is expected to have expertise in at least one or more category. Western yoga classes present the postures (asanas), meditation and required certification categories. Any additional spiritual teachings are by each school's individual choice.

Traditional Ancient Yoga and Training

The more traditional approach believes that to be a yoga instructor requires training with a Guru. It emphasizes 6 forms of yoga none of which is exclusive of the other.

The 6 forms are:

  • Hatha yoga - postures
  • Raja yoga - royal with focus on meditation
  • Karma yoga - path of service
  • Tantra yoga - ceremony
  • Bhakti yoga - of the heart
  • Jnana yoga - of mind or wisdom

The origins of yoga are not well documented. Yoga is believed to have originated in India 5,000 years ago. Following an oral tradition the fundamentals were laid out in the "sutra" way. According to Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati, "yoga is outlined in 196 sutras,..., then discussed with and explained by teacher to student." Teacher-student aspects of traditional yoga are provided in this link:

Becoming a yoga instructor requires the individual embrace yoga and then teach others to do so. For those truly interested, it requires discipline and years of dedication within the scope of the yoga tradition.

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