How To Become a Yoga Instructor in 6 Steps
Updated September 29, 2023
Yoga is a popular and ancient exercise practice focused on breath and movement that builds strength, flexibility and mindfulness. The word, yoga, means to yoke or unite and refers to the unification of mind and body through a physical practice that can provide a positive impact on your life spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
If you are passionate about mental and physical health and enjoy the art of yoga, then becoming a certified yoga instructor can be a very rewarding career. In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about becoming a yoga teacher including job requirements, average salary and frequently asked questions about this career choice.
What does a yoga teacher do?
A yoga teacher guides students of different levels through the physical practice of yoga by safely leading them through a sequence of movements (also called asanas) and helping them learn the correct form for different poses.
Yoga instructors may also provide their students with additional guidance in areas such as yoga philosophy, meditation and deep breathing techniques. A yoga teacher can teach group classes, workshops and one-on-one personal training sessions.
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Yoga teacher requirements
Here are a few common job requirements for yoga teachers:
Complete training with a registered yoga school.
Obtain CPR/first aid certification.
Become a registered yoga teacher.
Thorough understanding of various yoga and mindful meditation techniques.
Strong business, organization and administration skills.
Ability to work a flexible schedule.
Excellent communication and leadership skills.
Strong motivational skills.
Personal commitment to physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle.
How to become a yoga teacher
Follow these steps to become a yoga teacher:
1. Learn yoga
Before you can embark on your journey to become a yoga instructor, you should have a thorough understanding of the practice of yoga on a personal level. There are many different styles of yoga and taking classes in each of these different styles can help you determine the type of yoga practice that best fits your personal preferences. Yoga styles include vinyasa, ashtanga, Bikram and Hatha.
Perhaps you will find that you prefer a more workout-oriented practice with loud upbeat music, or you might discover that what appeals to you most is the spiritual element of yoga and opt for classes with calming music centered around breathwork.
The way each style of yoga is taught may also vary based on who your instructor is and where the class is held. You should consider trying several different styles of yoga taught by different instructors in various locations to help you find both your practice and teaching style. You may also consider choosing a current yoga teacher to act as your mentor and help guide you through the process.
2. Complete a training course
Your next step is to choose a registered yoga school that follows the guidelines established by the Yoga Alliance and enroll in a teacher training program. Yoga teacher training programs are offered at two different levels.
The first level is a 200-hour certification program and the second level is a 500-hour certification program. What you want to do after you become certified as a yoga teacher often helps determine which program level is right for you. Both program levels include coursework in physiology, anatomy, yoga philosophy and instructional techniques.
In addition to the standard registered yoga teacher training programs, you may decide to pursue certification in a specialty area. For example, specialty certifications include both registered children's yoga teacher and registered prenatal yoga teacher. If you know you want to work with a specific group like children or pregnant women, you may want to consider these certifications as well.
3. Get registered
The registered yoga teacher certification is an internationally recognized credential that shows you have met the minimum standards of yoga training established by the Yoga Alliance. To get your RYT certification, you will need to have completed at least the 200-hour level registered yoga school training program and pay a $50 application fee and your annual $65 dues. There is an additional $50 application fee to upgrade your certification to the RCYT and RPYT specialty designations.
4. Become certified in CPR
If you want to teach in a health or fitness center, you will most likely need to be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, also known as "CPR." Health and fitness centers usually require their instructors to be CPR certified to ensure they have the basic skills needed to respond to a health emergency.
5. Decide what type of yoga teacher you want to be
There are several different types of yoga teachers. Some yoga teachers cater their classes to specific groups while others hold classes in specific locations. For example, a yoga teacher may decide to target a niche market such as providing yoga instruction to professional athletes or they may decide to offer classes through a yoga studio or online.
6. Begin teaching classes
You are now ready to begin teaching yoga classes on your own. You may start by offering yoga classes and events within your home or community to your friends, family and other network connections.
Get creative! It can be difficult to get a job at a more established location without experience so consider taking on unusual opportunities to practice teaching—no matter where you’re at with your personal practice teaching is a wholly different endeavor. You can begin teaching classes at local yoga studios, gyms or other fitness facilities and even at businesses like local restaurants.
7. Maintain certifications
You will need to complete continuing education coursework and continue to pay your annual dues to maintain your yoga teacher certification. You may also need to complete continuing education or renewal coursework to maintain your CPR certification.
Frequently asked questions
The following are a few common questions about being a certified yoga teacher:
What is the average salary of a yoga teacher?
Yoga instructors can work in either a full- or part-time capacity. The salary of a yoga teacher varies based on their level of training, experience, geographic location, the types of classes they teach and the number of courses on their schedule. The national average salary for a yoga instructor is $34.23 per hour with a salary range between $18.48 per hour and $63.39 per hour.
It is important to note that most yoga teachers work other jobs to supplement their income. If you are hoping to make teaching yoga your sole career it will likely require organizing and teaching workshops, private lessons and teacher trainings.
How long does it take to become a yoga teacher?
The amount of time it will take you to become a certified yoga instructor varies based on your level of prior experience and the training program you choose. Generally, an individual seeking to become a certified yoga instructor should already have several years of personal experience practicing yoga before beginning a training course. You will then choose between a 200-hour or 500-hour certification program. The 200-hour program typically takes between three and five months to complete, while the 500-hour program may take between six months and a year to complete.
What qualifications do you need to be a yoga teacher?
To become a registered or certified yoga teacher, your training and experience must meet the minimum standards established by the Yoga Alliance Standards. These requirements include completing either a 200-hour or 500-hour training course through a registered yoga school, paying applicable fees and taking continuing education courses to keep your certification current.
What is the job outlook for yoga teachers?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics categorizes yoga instructors into the field of fitness trainers and instructors. This group has a projected job growth rate of 13% between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than the national average growth rate for all occupations. This means yoga teachers should experience strong job stability and have several career opportunities available to them.
What is the work environment of a yoga teacher?
Yoga teachers can work in a variety of environments including local (sometimes heated) yoga studios, fitness centers and other similar facilities. They may also provide yoga instruction through online courses.
Shifts for yoga teachers vary based on where they work and the number of classes they have scheduled and can include days, nights, weekends and holiday hours. Yoga teachers may work full- or part-time, and some are self-employed. Due to the nature of the work performed, yoga instructors have the benefit of working in relaxing, peaceful environments and often have strong job satisfaction.
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