If you are looking to take your love of yoga to the next level, you might investigate making your yoga practice into a career. Many yogis seek to further their own practice by becoming teachers.
How long does it take to become a certified yoga instructor? Typically, it will take 8-weeks to become a certified yoga instructor. You will need to invest no less than 200 hours into coursework and YTT training.
Some yoga teacher training courses offer their entire training courses online, others offer half online, half in person, while some are entirely in a classroom. However, to get RYT certified, make sure the teacher training course is registered with the Yoga Alliance. Read below to learn how to get certified, and how long each part of the yoga training takes.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Certified Yoga Instructor?
Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) takes, at minimum, 200 hours of coursework and practice to become a certified yoga instructor. This type of instruction involves coursework that is learned in a classroom or online setting, hands-on physical learning, class evaluations and mentorship.
If you want to take your yoga certification to the next level, you can advance to a 300-hour or even 500-hour certification course. These lengthier courses will further advance your yoga expertise and teaching skills. These courses dive deeper into more specialized practices, like learning how to teach those who are chronically ill, those who are pregnant, or have unique abilities.
How to Become a Certified Yoga Instructor
Becoming a certified yoga instructor doesn’t happen overnight. Even if you do enroll in a two-week program, you can expect that program to be intense, rigorous and fast moving. Even after taking a two-week intensive, you’ll still have more hours to invest before you can officially be considered a 200-hour certified instructor. The following steps will guide you through the process of how to become a certified yoga instructor.
Enroll at a Yoga Alliance Approved Yoga School
Most yoga studios require their teachers to be certified within a school or study that is approved by the Yoga Alliance. Yoga Alliance is affiliated with over 7,000 registered schools, all of whom must follow a specific set of rules and guidelines to ensure that every yoga teacher who is certified under the Yoga Alliance umbrella is taught through only the highest of standards.
To begin your journey as a certified yoga instructor, you’ll want to enroll at a yoga school that is registered and approved by Yoga Alliance. Fortunately, Yoga Alliance offers an easy to navigate search system that includes all their affiliate and approved teaching schools. Simply type in your location and you will find hundreds of yoga schools near you! If you are looking for an online, self-paced certification our recommendation is below.
We recommend My Vinyasa Practice to get your 200-hour, 300-hour or 500-hour certification. It is a registered yoga school with Yoga Alliance. Michelle Young is E-RYT 500 registered with Yoga Alliance, and provides a real passion for teaching her students. The certification is completely online and self-paced so you can take as much or as little time completing it as you’d like. The training is laid out in weekly formats that guide students through the readings, videos, and other course content. The program can be completed in as little as 8 weeks, but students are encouraged to take the time they need to connect with the curriculum, heighten their understanding, and deepen their practice. They also provide 50% off tuition when paid in full.
Learn the Yoga Techniques, Training and Practice – 75 hours
The first part of your yoga teacher training (YTT) will include learning about and mastering the following:
- Historical Contexts – Discover the history of yoga as a practice.
- Asanas – Yoga poses (must include sukhasana and sayasana). Learn the anatomical and alignment principles, in addition to contraindications.
- Pranayama – Types of breathing (Ujjayi, Nadi Shodhana, Kapalabhaiti), specific to yoga. Learn about Subtle Body Knowledge – Including chakras.
- Meditation – Learn how to meditate, chant, create mantras and the correlating mudras (gestures) used in meditative practices. Learn the variants of meditation through different lineages.
Learn Anatomy and Physiology Involved in Yoga – 30 Hours
The second part of YTT will be exclusively about the body, how the body is put together, how it functions, and how human anatomy and physiology comes into play during yoga practice. You’ll learn the following during this 30-hour portion of YTT.
- Anatomy – Learn all the major bones and types of joints in the body and how each major muscle is involved in asana. Master the concept of how each individual muscle contracts.
- Physiology – Learn about the central nervous system (including things like fight, flight and freeze, how the body responds to stress, vagal theory, and overall mind-body connection). Learn about the cardiovascular/circulatory system, the endocrine system, digestive systems, all as they relate to the practice of yoga. Learn about the respiratory system, especially how muscles affect breathing.
- Biomechanics – Study joint movements, stabilization, and moving safely through positions. Study balance, stretching, body awareness, and how to manage physical limitations (how to adapt yoga practice to individual needs).
This training is more study and scholar based, and thus can be performed online (as opposed to in a classroom setting).
Learn Yoga Humanities – 30 Hours
While learning yoga, it is just as important to master one’s knowledge of the body as it is to master the history and cultural context behind the physical art of yoga. During this third 30-hour part of YTT you will learn all about the important history and humanity of yoga.
- History – Learn what the term ‘yoga’ means, key historical dates and ideas (like Vedas, Vedanta, Hatha, Colonial and Modern yoga).
- Philosophy – Defining yoga and the philosophies involved in the practice. The relationship between asana, pranayama, and meditation. This will vary per each school’s unique approach, though most yoga schools embody a very similar philosophy. Study various yogi texts (Ex: Yoga Sutras, Bhagava Gita, Upanishads, Hatha Yoga Pradipika).
- Ethics – Discover the ethical precepts of yoga and the yoga sutras. Learn the Yoga Alliance Ethical Commitment (includes: scope of practice, codes of conduct, and equity position statement comprehension). Learn the responsibility you and other yogis must increase the equity in yoga. Discover accountability practices as well as self-reflection.
Learn Yoga Professional Essentials – 50 Hours
The second-to-last part of your YTT will involve the basics of teaching all you have learned of yoga thus far in your training. Professional essentials include various teaching styles, how to look for a yoga teaching position, and practicing teaching with supervision. You will learn and practice the following during this 50-hour portion of training:
- Teaching Methodology – Learn how to create sequences of movement, how to create and explain the pace of sequences, how to create a specific environment, and how to utilize verbal, visual and physical cues while teaching. Learn how to manage a classroom of multiple people of varying skill levels and abilities.
- Professional Development – At this stage you’ll learn of the various yoga-related organizations to align yourself with professionally, including the Yoga Alliance credentials process. Learn the importance of professionalism (being punctual, consistent, clean, and giving space to students to learn). Learn how to market and promote yourself and your classes. Learn about liability insurance, wavers and how to invoice clients.
- Practicum (Practice Teaching) – Putting in to practice the knowledge, skills and experience learned thus far.
Elective Hours – 15 Hours
Lastly, to wrap up your YTT, you’ll need to complete 15 classroom hours of elective training. Elective hours can be from the following subcategories of learning:
- Techniques, Training and Practice – Learn about acro yoga, aerial yoga, sacred sound, and stand up paddle board (SUP) yoga.
- Yoga Humanities – Learn about Ayurveda, Jyotish, and Yantra.
The following list are electives not accepted by the Yoga Alliance:
- Chinese Medicine
- Creative Arts & Crafts
- Crystal Studies
- Essential Oils
- Organic Farming
- Tai Chi
- Massage therapy
What is the Yoga Alliance?
Yoga Alliance is the biggest nonprofit organization that supports and represents the yoga community. Within the yoga alliance there are more than 7,000 Registered Yoga Schools (RYS). Yoga alliance has helped to teach more than 100,000 Registered Yoga Teachers (RYT).
Yoga Alliance has created a standard for yoga teaching and practice, which is why so many studios require their teachers meet the Yoga Alliance standards by becoming a RYT.
The Key Take Away
Becoming a certified yoga instructor takes a minimum of 200 hours of study and practice. While it may seem like a lot of information and practice to undergo, it will be interesting and rewarding. If your goal is to become a certified yoga instructor, then you must already possess a love and knowledge of yoga. This will help fuel your drive to get certified and begin teaching your own yoga classes.
Remember, different schools practice differing methodologies and might follow a specific philosophy. Therefore, study at a school that is not only Yoga Alliance approved, but suits your own personal goals, desires and beliefs.