Why Become a Certified Yoga Instructor?
Yoga & mindfulness practices can have a tremendously positive impact on our lives. With consistent practice, practitioners can build physical strength and flexibility while also improving their mental, emotional, and spiritual outlook on life. If you have experienced the personal benefits of practicing yoga & mindfulness and feel passionate about sharing what you’ve learned with others, becoming a certified yoga instructor may be the right path for you!
How does one become a yoga teacher? We are here to explain it all, from finding the right training program for you, finding a place to teach, as well as answering frequently asked questions about this incredibly rewarding and fulfilling career choice.
What do yoga teachers do?
First and foremost, yoga teachers are students of yoga. They have a solid understanding of the importance of the daily practice of yoga as a lifestyle (incorporating the philosophy of the yamas and niyamas into all of their actions and interactions) and may have a daily physical practice as well. There are so many ways to practice the physical limb of yoga (asana) and whatever style of practice a teacher is drawn to is completely up to them.
Beyond that, there are so many ways to share the gifts of yoga! Some people choose to focus on teaching physical asana (postures) to certain age groups like babies, toddlers, preschoolers, tweens & teens, seniors, etc.
Some specialty yoga classes include prenatal yoga, trauma informed yoga, yin yoga, yoga for diverse abilities, gentle yoga, restorative yoga, yoga for athletes, chair yoga, stand up paddle board yoga, partner yoga, yoga for the incarcerated, yoga nidra (yogic sleep), yoga for recovery, ariel yoga, goat yoga… the list goes on and on!
There are some yoga teachers who focus exclusively on sharing yogic philosophy, the Chakras, Ayurveda, breathing techniques (pranayama), yoga for mental health, visualizations, meditation, Seva (service)… again, the list goes on and on!
Some yoga instructors teach in person, some in live virtual settings (like Zoom), some offer pre-recorded classes and series online, or some offer a hybrid combination of all these things! After a teacher becomes more experienced in whatever specialty they choose to focus their teaching, they may go on to lead national & international yoga retreats, present at conferences and/or lead their own yoga teacher trainings.
What are the requirements to become a certified yoga instructor?
Truthfully, anyone can call themselves a yoga teacher! There are no certification or licensing requirements one must have to teach yoga. However, most people won’t get hired these days if they aren’t certified, so it is strongly recommended that you complete a reputable yoga teacher training certification program before teaching yoga to others. There are literally thousands of programs to choose from and some of these yoga schools are approved by the Yoga Alliance, the major yoga credentialing organization in the United States.
Why become a certified yoga instructor?
You will have the opportunity to call yourself a Professional Yoga Teacher, and you absolutely should! But to be truthful and authentic, you cannot say this until certification with a seasoned trainer at a legitimate yoga school has been completed.
There are several benefits to being a member of the Yoga Alliance. Member perks include:
- Discounts on hotels, rental cars, yoga clothes, products and more, plus access to webinars on how to grow your yoga business.
- Your own listing on the Yoga Alliance’s directory of instructors so that you are searchable by city and state for anyone looking for a credible yoga instructor.
- If you are looking to eventually teach your own yoga teacher training, having the different specialty Yoga Alliance designations can be crucial to the success of your career. The various designations include Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT), Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher (RPYT), Registered Children’s Yoga Teacher (RCYT), and Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) in both the 200-hour and 500-hour statuses. There is also a designation called “Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider” (YACEP) which allows you to teach workshops and trainings where attendees can get their YA continuing education hours through your offerings.
Yoga Alliance also monitors a variety of distinct state-specific regulations and legislation that impact yoga professionals and the yoga community. This is a big reason why we are supporters of this organization!
The letters above can come after your name on your business cards, website, emails and any professional materials that you share with the public. These designations let your community know that your yoga education is important to you and that you’ve gone above and beyond to learn as much as possible about teaching yoga.
Yoga studios, corporations, schools, and other organizations who are looking for yoga teachers to lead classes for their group often require that anyone applying for the job have a professional yoga certificate to send in with their application in order to be considered for the position.
What should I consider when seeking out a yoga certification program?
Do not hesitate to reach out to a yoga school’s Director of Trainings with the following questions:
Does the training focus on a specific style of yoga?
If you choose a training based on a certain asana (postures) style, know that as you change and grow as a teacher, it may be necessary to do another rudimentary training.
What is covered in the curriculum?
A 200-Hour Adult Yoga Teacher Training should thoroughly cover alignment for all of the basic postures, relevant, basic anatomy for those postures, sequencing, accurate philosophy, breathing techniques, art of teaching lessons and chanting.
What does the faculty specialize in?
A diverse faculty with varying specialty backgrounds is important. It’s ideal to have at least one trainer that is experienced in teaching beginners and seniors, intermediate classes, restoratives, prenatal, etc.
Are there plenty of opportunities to practice teaching?
This is a must! A strong program should have you on your feet, teaching various postures and techniques to the class and/or trainers frequently.
How often will we be practicing?
The only way to become a better teacher is to remain a student. Daily practices helps trainees articulate alignment cues seamlessly and will generate ideas for creative, safe sequencing and theming.
Is this program in person, live virtual, self-paced online or a hybrid?
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the way to become a certified yoga instructor has changed drastically. Before 2020, many yoga teachers felt strongly that self-paced online yoga certification simply could not work. Of course, not being able to see a student’s body in person can present challenges, and physical hands-on adjustments went right out the window! However, many yoga training programs found creative and inspiring ways to tackle these issues so that the quality of learning was not hindered by online learning.
Obtaining your yoga certification online is now completely achievable and, in many ways, makes yoga teacher training programs more accessible. Many people enjoy yoga certification online because it saves time on travel, saves money on hotel stays & food expenses and reduces their carbon footprint. Plus, in live virtual training settings, trainees can meet other like-minded people from around the world!
If I take a yoga teacher training, am I required to teach yoga?
We include this question because we get it a lot! Our enthusiastic answer is, “Absolutely not!” Not everyone that takes a teacher training decides to teach yoga. The training itself can deepen your personal practice and that is valuable in and of itself.
If I do choose to teach, where can I teach after I become a certified yoga instructor?
Anywhere! Some certified yoga instructors go on to teach in yoga studios, community centers, preschools, childcare centers, schools, gyms, YMCAs, corporations, hospitals, or libraries.
But before you start looking for a gig, you’ll need to purchase yoga insurance. Remember, yoga is a personal practice. No matter what you may be instructing, students will transpose your instructions into their bodies the way they hear and translate your words. There is always the possibility of being sued if someone gets hurt while we are teaching. Whether you plan to teach just occasionally, or whether you plan to teach multiple classes each week, it is highly recommended that you obtain liability insurance. In fact, many yoga studios and schools will require proof of insurance with aggregate of $1M-2M.
The following are just a few companies that offer insurance for certified yoga instructors:
If teaching at a yoga studio is your ambition after certification, the most important thing to do is to practice at your studio of choice. Build relationships with the teachers, staff and owner, take workshops and advanced trainings there to get a feel for school’s teaching methodology. When the time is right, ask the owner to take a class with you somewhere (make sure they don’t pay if it’s a public class, or offer to teach them a free private class) to be considered for their sub list OR let them know you’d really like to teach at their studio. This approach will take time, but it’s worth it.
We also suggest you buy a domain name and build a website. Check out other teachers’ websites, especially their bios. Spend time crafting your bio. If you are interested in teaching somewhere, after you’ve established a relationship with the studio owner, refer them to your bio on your website so they can learn more about where you received your yoga training and why you are passionate about sharing the gifts of yoga & mindfulness.
Above all, the most important thing to keep in mind after becoming a certified yoga instructor is to always remain a student of yoga. Stay curious about ways to further your education. Never be afraid to ask for opportunities to learn and grow. Get a mentor, someone to process with and use as a resource. Work with your teaching peers, not against them. You are not competitors. There’s enough abundance for everyone.
For more answers to frequently asked questions, visit:
Want to talk to someone about becoming a certified yoga instructor?
Contact a ChildLight team member today!
The ChildLight Education Company (formerly ChildLight Yoga) mission is to empower people with the tools they need to be healthy, happy and resilient at school, at home and throughout their lives. We provide evidence-based and trauma-informed professional development trainings, curricula, resources and consulting to individuals and organizations who support the social, emotional, cognitive and physical wellbeing of children, youth and families. Our sustainable programs are successfully implemented in thousands of communities worldwide.