Last updated on September 23rd, 2023.
So you feel your calling is to become a certified yoga instructor, and you want to know where to begin. Luckily for you, it’s a fairly simple process.
The best way to become a certified yoga instructor is to enroll in and complete a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training program registered with Yoga Alliance and then apply for an RYT-200 with Yoga Alliance.
That’s it! But wait: You might still have questions, such as which yoga teacher training (YTT) program you should choose, how to even choose one, why Yoga Alliance, and how to actually land a job teaching yoga. Just breathe, and read on. We’ve got you covered.
How to Become a Certified Yoga Instructor
As more and more people begin to awaken to the benefits of a healthy lifestyle that encompasses the whole self: mind, body, and spirit, the collective interest in yoga is growing. Yoga is literally for everybody. People of all ages, genders, shapes, sizes, abilities, backgrounds, cultures, religions, and lifestyles can participate in a yoga program.
Yoga is a solid economic niche, with yogi consumers spending over $16 billion on yoga apparel, paraphernalia, classes, and programs in 2016 alone. Yoga in America is growing in popularity, having increased from 20 million in 2012 to over 36 million in 2016, according to Yoga Alliance’s 2016 Yoga in America Study.
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the pool of certified yoga instructors is growing as well and is projected to grow 10% by 2026. No wonder there is a growing interest in becoming a certified yoga instructor. And as it so happens, it is a fairly attainable goal.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to pursue a YTT certification, breathe easy knowing that yoga isn’t going anywhere, and you can really go places with a yoga instructor certification.
Check out this list of best yoga instructors on youtube.
1. Determine Your Yoga Style
The first step in becoming a certified yoga instructor is determining which style of yoga suits you best. There are many styles and variations of yoga, and as such, there are training programs suited to each specific style of yoga practice.
Alternatively, there are also broader YTT programs that cover all the basics and set the foundation for a Hatha yoga practice, including many other yoga styles that fall under the Hatha umbrella.
Consider your personal experiences with yoga and which types of classes you prefer, and do some research into the different branches of yoga practices to discover what resonates with you.
2. Choose a Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) Program
The next step in becoming a certified yoga instructor is to choose a YTT program. The first level, or tier, of Yoga Teacher Training is the 200-hour certification. This is foundational, and once you’ve achieved this, you may choose to build upon that by enrolling in a more advanced, 300 Level YTT – or 500-hour or specialty training. But first things first: the 200-hour YTT.
There are thousands of 200-hour programs to choose from, but you may want to begin looking in your immediate locale: what’s in your neighborhood, your home town, your metropolitan area? Yoga studios are popping up everywhere these days, so there’s sure to be one near you that makes for a great starting point. You can reach out and see what kinds of YTT programs they offer or inquire as to where their teachers obtained their training.
Online YTT Programs
Traditionally, most YTT programs were held in person at yoga studios. However, more and more legitimate YTT programs are being offered online in a joint effort to meet the needs of the growing interest in becoming a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT). That said, the current pool of yoga teacher training programs from which one can choose has grown dramatically in recent months since you now no longer need to choose one local to you.
Check out our recommendations here for the best Online Yoga Teacher Training as well as in-person programs.
Finding a YTT Program
An excellent place to start is Yoga Alliance (YA), for as their motto goes: “many paths, one yoga alliance.” YA is the largest nonprofit association that represents the yoga community, with thousands of registered yoga schools and teachers in their network.
YA provides a search engine where you can find a Registered Yoga School and filter according to your own personal preferences, be it an online program, one local to you, full-time, part-time, specialty, or whatever it is you’re looking for. If it is a YA approved training, you can find it here.
And if it is a YA-approved training program, you can be assured that your program will offer you all you need to build a solid foundation on which to deepen and grow your practice. You will learn anatomy and physiology as they pertain to yoga, proper alignment, adjustments, and accommodations, as well as the philosophical aspects of the practice, pranayama, and how to integrate this all into your own teaching practice that is true and unique to you.
After you’ve chosen your program, the hard part is over. You just have to begin your YTT program and see it through to completion.
3. Apply for RYT Certification
Once you’ve completed your yoga teacher training program, apply for RYT certification with Yoga Alliance of America. Once you are registered with YA, you will be listed in their global directory as a certified teacher who has completed an official YA-approved and registered training program.
While not required, YA sets the standard for YTT programs, and so it is a good idea to become registered with them to enhance your marketability as a yoga instructor.
4. Get Yoga Insurance
Once you are certified and registered, you’ll want to obtain yoga liability insurance to safeguard your teaching practice.
There are two main types of insurance: general liability insurance and professional liability insurance. This article details the differences between them and lists the top five affordable Yoga Teacher Insurance companies worth looking into.
5. Begin Your Search for Work
Now that you’re all covered (literally!), you are ready to begin your search for work as a yoga instructor!
The most logical starting point in your search may be your local yoga studios, but don’t let your search be limited to just the scope of studios in your area. Yoga has far-reaching limbs, and there are many other places you might find in need of a yoga instructor as well, or perhaps even some untapped niches just waiting for the right opportunity.
Besides traditional gyms, fitness organizations, health clubs, and spas, such niches include:
- Corporations and businesses: Many corporations and businesses offer yoga to their employees now. You could network and reach out to local businesses to see if they have any such program or would be interested in offering such a perk to their employees.
- Alternative medicine offices, holistic health providers, hospitals: Many healthcare providers see the benefit of offering a more holistic approach to health, healing, and recovery and now offer yoga as a complementary part of an integrative approach to health care. Some such facilities include cancer treatment centers, rehabilitation centers, and acupuncture and chiropractic offices.
- Churches: Churches sometimes have affordable spaces for rent should you choose to host your own yoga classes and workshops.
- Senior centers and retirement communities: There is a growing interest among the senior population in yoga, especially gentle, easy, and chair yoga. Many such communities host classes or would be open to doing so.
- Private yoga: You could offer private or customized yoga classes and workshops for small pods, groups, or special events like women’s retreats and family gatherings.
- Outdoor yoga: You could hold yoga classes outdoors in local parks or host summer camps or workshops in nature for a unique yoga experience.
- Schools: Teaching yoga to children is becoming widely popular as many teachers and parents are seeing the benefits of incorporating yoga into a child’s routine. You could inquire about introducing such a program at a local school.
- Online yoga: You can teach online yoga courses.
The bottom line is, the possibilities are limitless. You can go against the grain, forge your own path, and create your own niche. Go with the flow—your flow!
6. Continuing Education
Yoga instructors who are registered with Yoga Alliance must complete 75 hours of continuing education every three years to maintain their certification and registration with YA. Yoga Alliance is a great place to look when searching for continuing ed opportunities.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Certified Yoga Instructor?
Completing a 200-hour YTT program really depends on the type of program in which you participate.
Some programs are several week-long immersions in which the students train for 8-12 hours a day until they complete their program, while others are weekends only, or one weekend a month, and still others, such as those now available online, run at your own pace.
As you would imagine, the length of time it takes to complete your 200-hour training program and earn your RYT certification dramatically varies. However, if you opt to enroll in an online program, expect it to take a few months.
How Much Does It Cost to Become a Certified Yoga Instructor?
Again, this is another highly variable aspect of earning a YTT certification. While most in-person programs tend to cost around $2500-3000 and even upwards, there are now many online programs that cost significantly less, some even as low as $300.
As mentioned before, once you have completed your training program, you will want to register with the Yoga Alliance, which will cost about $115. Of course, you don’t have to. Still, the benefits outweigh the costs and greatly enhance your employability as a yoga instructor, as most yoga studios will prefer teachers who are registered with Yoga Alliance.
Some benefits of registering with Yoga Alliance include access to a community of yoga instructors and professionals in addition to access to:
- Continued education
- Discounted training, events, and continued education classes
- The latest association updates
- Member directory
- Video resources
- The highest standards and credentials recognized worldwide
Finally, you’ll want to add in the cost of yoga insurance, which will run you around $200 per year.
In conclusion, if you feel that becoming a certified yoga instructor is in your dharma, you owe it to yourself to pursue that path. As we’ve outlined in this article, you can take many paths to achieve this goal; now that you know where to begin, you can take the first step toward deepening and sharing your practice with others. Namaste.
(Still question is yoga a good career? Find out everything you need to know about it in that article!)