Although it is not completely necessary for teaching yoga, yoga teacher certifications are strongly recommended, especially if you are planning to teach professionally in a studio or with a gym. The training will prepare you to be a qualified and marketable yoga instructor who will stand out against others trying to enter the field without formal training.
What are the different types of yoga teacher certifications? The three main types of Yoga Teacher Training Certifications are 200-hour, 300-hour, and 500-hour. There is also Experienced(E)-RYT, as well as plenty of various specializations that can be added on.
Each different certification has different requirements, and the specializations only happen after the initial YTTC’s have been completed. There is also a difference between being certified as a yoga teacher and becoming an officially registered yoga teacher through the Yoga Alliance. Read on to see how these things differ and discover what path might serve your goals the best.
Yoga Teacher Training Certifications
With each Yoga Teacher Training Course, different requirements must be met. Some even have prerequisites that must be completed before beginning a course. Many of them have similar foundations, but they all differ slightly, if not more.
The Yoga Alliance typically regulates these requirements and curriculums. The Yoga Alliance was brought about to offer quality control and regulation within the yoga-teaching community. It is an establishment that maintains the courses’ expectations and offers age-old wisdom about yoga, both in practice and in lifestyle, for those seeking to become immersed in it.
The YTTC’s are categorized by the number of hours spent training and studying in the courses. If there are specializations, they differ by information in the curriculum and the hours of those vary.
They start at a minimum of 200-hours and go up as far as 1000-hours, which is where the E-RYT title comes into play. To view these courses and their requirements specifically from the Yoga Alliance, visit YogaAlliance.org.
Some courses, registered through the yoga alliance or not, are usually offered in local yoga studios and at yoga schools near you. They are typically a few months long, depending on the course’s hour-range, and will give you all the training you need to become an RYT.
There are other opportunities available for those who want a more immersive and all-encompassing experience. Many of these will take them to international places that are famous for their yoga study, such as:
Those are available at a higher cost, but many people find them to be life-changing experiences.
Either road you choose will lead you down a path of:
If you allow it, it will make you more immersed in the yoga lifestyle and state of mind. Not just for your practice or career, but also your daily experience as well.
Certified Yoga Teacher (CYT) vs. Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT)
Before diving into the different hours of courses and specializations, let’s distinguish between a Certified Yoga Teacher (CYT) and a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT).
Although they may seem the same, the terminology is an important distinction to understand. This will be especially true as you are looking into your options for where and when to do your own Yoga Teacher Training (YTT).
Both titles go through a series of required hours of training and extensive:
A CYT is a title offered to those who do not go through the official Yoga Alliance requirements or programs for their training for one reason or another. There are countless programs and certification processes offered by yoga teachers, yoga studios, and other establishments that are not registered with the Yoga Alliance.
These courses may use a similar technique of requiring minimum hours of training, even in the same pattern as the Yoga Alliance hourly requirements. They may also have very similar teaching content for their required study texts and practice. They may have very in-depth physical training to master: yoga postures, meditations, and breathing techniques required for teaching yoga. These YTT schools or courses can often be just as rigorous and respectable as their counterpart courses registered by the Yoga Alliance.
However, it is essential to be aware that because the schools and courses are not registered by the Yoga Alliance or holding a title of a Registered Yoga School (RYS), they offer a different title to their students. Only the RYS’s can establish a yoga instructor by the title of RYT. These other YTT’s can offer their students the title of CYT instead.
While it is still possible to be a successful yoga instructor without becoming an RYT, there are many yoga studios, gyms, and other establishments that require the Yoga Alliance’s specific title. This is simply because it offers the company some quality control for the yoga instructors they hire since the Yoga Alliance is well established, well respected, and adheres to specific guidelines and regulations for the programs they offer that the hiring individuals can count on.
As specified before, the courses are distinguished by the required hours of training and practice for completion. The first course is sometimes considered the “undergraduate” course compared to the first few years of a college degree. In that instance, all the fundamentals of the craft are taught.
We recommend My Vinyasa Practice to get your 200-hour certification. My Vinyasa Practice 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.
Before the Course
The most basic course offered for the title of a Registered Yoga Teacher comprises 200 hours of intensive training and study. Before this training, it is usually recommended that you have spent a great deal of time practicing yoga and become familiar with it, sometimes even a minimum of a year or so.
This can include:
- A daily personal yoga practice
- Participation in yoga classes through a studio or gym
- Virtual classes done through social media platforms
Before and throughout the training, there will be literature requirements to be read. Some certifications may have specific texts they prefer, others may let you choose from an extensive list, and a few may let you choose which yoga texts to study on your own. One thing is for sure: some, if not a lot, of reading will be required.
These will be texts about the history of yoga, its progression, and its philosophies. They will include books of yoga postures and their purpose and origin, books about the terminology used in the classes, and about spirituality and meditation.
If you choose to go with My Vinyasa Practice – all manuals, online materials, and digital materials are included in the cost of tuition. Teachers in training can also check out any book in their extensive library or check in with their teacher trainers to gain clarity and prowess.
Your personal yoga practice will be expected to take a more central role in your life. That will include not only your physical yoga practice but also several kinds of meditation and breathwork that will help you further your ability to connect with your body and teach others to do the same. It will be expected that these things become an integral and purposeful part of your daily life.
The Course Content
As for the course itself, according to My Vinyasa Flow, these are some of the things that you can expect a 200-Hour Certification to teach you:
- Yoga Philosophy: The concepts and ideals behind the physical practice.
- The History of Yoga: How it began and how it has changed over its lifespan.
- Meditation: The different types.
- Basic Anatomy Knowledge: The applicable science of the body and its different parts.
- Physiology of Yoga Practice: How the body is used and how it is affected by yoga.
- Teaching Methodology: How to maximize any student’s learning experience.
This course is the most foundational and offers the broadest understanding of yoga for teachers. It gives the graduates the freedom to teach in many different settings and to many different groups. If they wish to stop their training here and dive into teaching, then this allows them that opportunity.
However, suppose the students wish to further their Yoga Teacher Training. In that case, it gives them the basis of knowledge needed to continue to higher-level yoga courses and specializations, the same way that an undergraduate degree can prepare you for continuing education.
Keeping with our college-comparison theme, the 300-hour course/extension is often referred to as the continued education. Similar to the concept of a Master’s Degree or a Ph.D.. This can be completed all in one 500-hour course, or it can be done in combination with a prior 200-hour course, adding only an additional 300-hours to the training to create a Registered Yoga Teacher 500, recognized by the Yoga Alliance.
We recommend My Vinyasa Practice to get your 500-hour certification. Register anytime and work at your own pace. All required texts are included in electronic format. Students will receive access to pre-recorded video lectures, asana practices with Michelle(the teacher), written content, as well as a one-week pass to their online studio. Students also learn from live weekend lectures which are recorded for those who cannot attend. They also offer practice teaching opportunities and over 15 weekly office hours with Lead Trainers and their Peer Support Team. These office hours provide additional learning and the opportunity to ask questions about content. Additionally, students can expect:
- One-on-one coaching
- Unlimited access to lead trainers
- Podcast content
- Access to a diverse and intimate online community with members from around the globe
Before the Course
If you are not completing the course all-in-one, but as a two-part program, then it’s for those who have completed their 200-Hour training and have taught yoga for any amount of time post-training. After completing an additional 300-hour course, the courses’ combined hours bring you to a 500-hour training amount. It’s for those RYT’s who would like to know more and develop a further understanding and expertise of yoga.
The training, from here on out, becomes more intense. The postures become more complicated, requiring more stamina, strength, balance, and flexibility. The meditations and inner searchings become longer and more disciplined. The in-depth understanding of all things related to yoga becomes much more established. In short, this is the training to create experts.
It is also noteworthy that many 500-hour or 300-hour programs can be a considerable financial investment. They may cost significantly more than the 200-hour programs, which is due to the nature of the advancement. With more in-depth knowledge and training, the teachers must also be that much more qualified in their field to train them.
If you choose My Vinyasa Practice for any Yoga Teacher Training Certification, they offer their students 50% off when paid in full.
In addition to that, as given away by the course’s name, it is a lot of additional hours of training. It is a bigger time, money, and effort commitment, but one that can absolutely pay itself off.
As you become more advanced and technical, you also become more sought after for your teaching abilities and expertise. You can teach more in-depth or advanced classes and begin searching for the specializations you might enjoy the most.
Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher
After completing either an RYT 200 or an RYT 500, you then begin teaching yoga classes. Your progress doesn’t stop there, though. The certifications can still be increased through experience.
Adding 1,000 hours of teaching for two years with an RYT 200 can give you the title of Experienced(E)-RYT 200, and adding 2,000 hours of teaching with an RYT 500 will give you the title of an E-RYT 500.
These titles give you more prestige in the yoga community. They show employers and students how much experience you have and add value to your name and the classes you offer.
Once either a RYT 200 or RYT 500, then the instructors can choose a specialization course if they would like. The two specialization courses that are recognized by the Yoga Alliance are the Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher and the Registered Children’s Yoga Teacher.
Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher (RPYT) Certification
A RPYT is registered to teach yoga to women who are in any stage of pregnancy. This specialized course is essential because it offers critical differences from any other yoga practice. Since the physical condition is so heavily altered during pregnancy, there is much caution and focus involved.
It shifts the focus over to a more gentle and careful practice. The instructor has to know which postures are appropriate for keeping space available for the growing fetus, and which postures can prove to do more harm than good for a pregnant woman’s body and the body of her baby within.
They also have to be knowledgeable about which postures are appropriate at which trimesters during a woman’s pregnancy, since the body’s needs and limitations shift with the baby’s growth each week and month.
This certification requires not only a minimum of an RYT 200 from an RYS, but also 85 or more additional hours of training under a Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher. On top of that, they need to have clocked at least 30 hours of teaching experience for prenatal classes after their certifications.
A prenatal yoga class can be a huge benefit to pregnant women as they go through their pregnancy. For pregnant women, a prenatal yoga course can offer:
- Decreased stress and increased peace of mind through the practice and meditation
- Breathing techniques that can help manage labor pain and other discomforts or anxieties
- A clear focus on their baby and nurturing a connection that can last past the birth
- Relief from back, hip, neck, and other aches and pains associated with pregnancy
- Flexibility beneficial for labor techniques and body comfort
- Muscle strength to help support the growing baby and pregnant body
- Overall health and wellness during a sometimes uncomfortable or anxious time
A Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher can find this to be a rewarding certification as the classes they offer can help women not only in their own lives but in giving new life as well.
Registered Children’s Yoga Teacher (RCYT) Certification
For many in the yoga community, teaching children’s yoga may not be on their agenda. If the high-energy, fast-paced, and creative teaching style is a place where you see yourself thriving, then it can be a very worthwhile avenue to pursue.
Teaching children can be enriching, as you see them learning and growing faster than adults. They can soak up the instruction and master things at each stage of their growth and development.
Knowing about the appropriate pacing, style, and postures for each age group is part of the training for an RCYT. They have to be able to engage children of all ages and keep their interest in the yoga flow through:
- Creative play
They also have to master the understanding of the adolescent mind in order to attempt to teach it.
Before this certification, an instructor needs to have become an RYT 200 or RYT 500 and then completed 95 hours of training at a Registered Children’s Yoga School. Then they must complete a minimum of 30 hours of teaching for children’s yoga at an RYS.
Once they have completed those prerequisites, they can begin their journey as a Registered Children’s Yoga Teacher and let the memories and experiences follow suit.
With the basics of a 200-hour training course that teaches the fundamentals of yoga, from a Registered Yoga School with the Yoga Alliance, or with a Yoga Teacher Training from a disassociated school, you are set to move forward on your yoga certification journey. Whether you choose to add a 300-hour training to get to an RYT 500, or continue with specializations in children’s or prenatal yoga, your journey is sure to be fulfilling and uplifting.
(RYT, E-RYT, RPYT, RCYT are registered trademarks of Yoga Alliance.)