RYT 200, 300, and 500 Yoga Certs Explained

With millions of people practicing yoga around the world, many of whom are at beginner levels, the importance of proper instruction and guidance cannot be overstated. To address this area of need, yoga certification programs ensure that yoga teachers are properly trained and credentialed. The RYT 200, 300, and 500 yoga certs represent validity and trustworthiness but how do they work?

The numbers in RYT yoga certs represent the number of hours a yoga instructor has completed in their yoga education and training. An RYT 200 is the foundational level of certification while the RYT 300 demonstrates further development and the RYT 500 designates the highest level of yoga expertise.

If you want to take your passion for yoga and turn it into a career teaching and guiding others, then pursuing a yoga certification may be the path for you. There are several tiers of yoga certs and there are strict requirements for attaining each of them. Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of RYT 200, 300, and 500 yoga certifications and which one may be your best option.

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What Is a Yoga Certification?

Generally speaking, a yoga certification is a verification by a school or provider that their instructors have successfully completed minimum requirements for education and training and satisfy certain standards for becoming professional yoga instructors.

In other words, a yoga certification is a seal of approval that indicates to students that not only has their instructor been formally educated in yoga theories and techniques, but that their yoga teacher has also been thoroughly trained in teaching and guiding others in the safe and proper practice of yoga.

Who Is the Yoga Alliance?

The Yoga Alliance is a non-profit organization that was created to monitor and regulate yoga instruction largely through the implementation of standards relating to the education and training of prospective yoga instructors. As the primary governing body in the yoga industry, the Yoga Alliance provides guidance and thought leadership in every aspect relating to the teaching of this ancient art.

As of 2020, the Yoga Alliance has

  • Accredited over 7,000 yoga schools (RYS)
  • Welcomed over 100,000 registered yoga teachers (RYT) to its growing ranks of qualified instructors

It is important to note that Yoga Alliance does not itself teach nor certify yoga instructors. Once successful candidates complete their 200, 300, or 500-hour training at an RYS (according to educational and training standards established by the Yoga Alliance), those students can then register with Yoga Alliance to become an RYT 200, RYT 300, or RYT 500 as the case may be.

What Does RYT 200 Mean?

The RYT 200 is the fundamental base credential for certified yoga instructors, meaning that all yoga teachers must, at a minimum, satisfy the requirements for this designation in order to be qualified to lead a class and teach students. RYT 200 is also a prerequisite for earning advanced credentials such as the RYT 500 (more on this later).  The 200 is also different from the 300 hour YTT.

These are the requirements for earning Yoga Alliance’s RYT 200 instructor designation:

In addition to their training requirements, RYT 200s must pay annual registration dues to the Yoga Alliance and are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education every three years to maintain their status.

How Long Does It Take To Complete RYT 200?

The length of time required to complete an RYT 200 program will depend on the course format. Typically, in-person courses can be completed within 3 to 6 weeks, particularly the intensive retreat-style formats. If self-paced instruction better suits your schedule due to work or family obligations, then an online RYT 200 teacher training will be your best bet and can be completed over a longer period.

Can I Become an RYT 200 Online?

Even though yoga has been around for thousands of years it is proving that it is perfectly adaptable to modern technology and the way that people consume content today. For instance, for students seeking to become an RYT 200 but whose circumstances make it difficult to attend in-person classes, there are a number of online teacher training courses that can properly prepare you to become an RYT 200.

What Is RYT vs YTT?

When diving into the topic of yoga teacher training there are several abbreviations that you will need to become familiar with starting with RYT and YTT.  What is YTT and RYT? Here is what they mean:

  • RYT stands for Registered Yoga Teacher and is a designation that a yoga instructor earns upon completing a teacher program and subsequently registering with a governing body like Yoga Alliance 
  • YTT refers to Yoga Teacher Training which is any program that prospective instructors enroll in to prepare to become a yoga teacher

So basically, you must enroll in and complete a YTT in order to become an RYT.

What Is the Difference Between RYT and CYT?

One designation that can be a source of confusion is CYT, which is different from an RYT. CYT stands for Certified Yoga Teacher and this is a credential that is issued by the school whose yoga teacher training you attend. It is the institution’s certification that you have successfully completed its requirements to become a yoga instructor.

To become an RYT, you will need to register with Yoga Alliance and demonstrate that you have satisfied their requirements.

What Is a 300-Hour Yoga Teacher Certification?

For yogis who have already earned their TYT 200 credential and seek to further their yoga teaching journey, a 300-hour yoga teacher certification will deepen their understanding of the yogic arts while strengthening their skill sets as instructors. Together, the RYT 200 and RYT 300 demonstrate that you have completed a combined 500 hours of education, training, practicum, and contact hours.

What Is the Highest Level of Yoga Instructor?

The RYT 500 designation is the highest level for yoga instructors in terms of education and training. Attaining this credential demonstrates that teaching yoga is more than a passion, it is a professional endeavor and your primary vocation. 

RYT 500 can be achieved by completing an RYT 200 followed by an RYT 300, or for those who know that teaching yoga is their true calling in life, there are stand-alone RYT 500 courses such as these.


Millions of people practice yoga every day and it falls on the shoulders of yoga instructors to teach and guide them in the ways of this ancient art. If teaching yoga is your calling in life, then pursuing an RYT 200 may be your best path forward and if you want to go all in, then perhaps an RYT 500 should be considered.