Yoga Teacher Training Demystified

Since completing my Yoga Teacher Training in March of 2010 and becoming a Certified Yoga Teacher, I often get questions about becoming a Yoga Teacher and what teacher training entails.

The process can get pretty confusing and there is a lot to consider and take in, so I completely understand why someone new to the world of Yoga Teaching would have questions… trust me, I did!


With that in mind, I’ve tried to come up with a simple post to demystify the general concepts of Yoga Teacher Training and give some pointers that anyone who is considering teacher training should keep in mind.

1. Yoga Alliance

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Yoga Alliance is the most widely known and used certifier of Yoga Teachers in the United States.  In fact, you’d have an extremely tough time securing a regular job as a Yoga Teacher without their stamp of approval!  That said, ALWAYS ensure that the program you choose for Yoga Teacher Training is a Yoga Alliance Accredited School.  Most programs will say this right out front, but it never hurts to double check on the Yoga Alliance website under “Find a Teacher or School.”

Yoga Alliance certifies teachers at the 200 hour level and the 500 hour level.  If you see an RYT-200 stamp next to a teacher’s name, that just means he/she is a Registered Yoga Teacher at the 200 hour level (this is what I am).  Sometimes you may see an “E” in front (E-RYT-500)… this means that the teacher is “Experienced” and has been teaching for a certain number of hours over a certain number of years with continued education along the way.

In general, you want to begin with the 200-hour certification first, and this is much more common than 500-hour certifications.  Although some programs offer the full 500 hours in one program, it will be a lot more time-consuming and expensive.  Many schools also offer a “300-hour program” that you can add on after you complete your 200-hour training for a combined total of 500 hours.

2. Duration

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Yoga Teacher Training programs come in all shapes and sizes and are by no means created equal.  The duration of the program is something that varies greatly from one school to the next and is really up to personal preference.

I chose to do a program that met every weekend (Friday through Sunday) for 3 full months.  However, there are programs that meet one weekend every other month for 2 years, one weekend a month for 1 year, 3-week intensive programs, and many more!

It truly depends on your schedule and what kind of commitment you can make.  If you’re in school and have every weekend free, it might be good to get it done in 3 months like I did.  If you have a full-time job, family, and other obligations, maybe you’d be better off spreading it out over 2 years.  Or maybe you’re single and work from home and think a 3-week intensive sounds great.  It’s up to you, but it’s definitely something that requires thought and planning.

3. Style

I could write post upon post about all the styles of yoga there are and how they differ from one another, but my point here is that you need to keep in mind the style of yoga you are being trained to teach.  In general, you’ll probably enjoy teaching the style of yoga that you enjoy practicing the most, but I know teachers who are soft-spoken, calm, and perfect Yin Yoga teachers, yet they enjoy practicing Power Yoga styles the most.

That said, look at your personality and characteristics before jumping on any one style.  If you’re not bubbly and energetic in general, you might not enjoy and be as successful teaching a Power Yoga class and may be better suited to teach Ashtanga or Yin.  In no way am I trying to discourage you from teaching the style you love, but it’s something that should be considered and looked into when choosing the right Yoga School for you.

4. Finances

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Yoga Teacher Training is not cheap.  It’s a fact.  You will very easily shell out $3,000 for the program, and that only includes tuition.  Any travel, lodging, food, textbooks, and supplies that are needed will most likely not be included.  Expect to see prices for tuition for a quality program ranging anywhere from $2,000 up to $5,000, although occasionally you will see some for less or more.

My program cost about $3,000 for tuition, and another $3,000 when I added on the cost of travel, lodging, textbooks, etc. (I had to drive 2 hours each way and stay in a hotel for 2 nights every weekend).

Although this probably sounds steep right now, keep in mind that an RYT-200 will make an average of $40 per class across the country.  If you’re becoming a Yoga Teacher to teach classes, you’re going to make up the cost of your training surprisingly fast.  Also remember that Yoga Teachers are Independent Contractors; this means that you are self-employed and can write off your training, among many other costs, on your taxes (Thank God!).

5. Location

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Yoga Alliance Accredited Teacher Training Programs can be found all over the world… just check out their list of schools on their website if you don’t believe me!  With this in mind, you’ll need to consider where you want to do your training.  I know many teachers who have gone out of state or even out of the country (Helloooo, Bali and India!) to do their training, and just as many who decided to do theirs in their hometown.

I didn’t have the luxury of having a program in my hometown – or even a yoga studio at all for that matter.  However, I did find an absolutely incredible school 2 hours away from me that I was able to drive to every weekend, and I couldn’t have been happier with the training and experience I received from it.  Given that I was a Senior in High School when doing my training, my parents probably wouldn’t be too excited (ok, more like enraged) at the prospect of having their 17-year-old daughter jet off to Bali for a month to become a Yoga Teacher.  Honestly, that isn’t really something I wanted to do anyways, and I ended up being completely satisfied with the program I chose.

The moral of the story is to find a program that calls out to YOU.  Maybe you want to spend a month in Bali like Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love.  Or maybe there’s a fantastic studio in your hometown that offers a program that sounds perfect to you.  Either way, if you’re going to take out the time, money, and effort to do a training, make sure it’s one you’ll love.

6. Ask Questions… And a Few More Questions

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Don’t be afraid to ask questions, get opinions, talk to teachers, visit studios, and research your heart out before committing to anything.  In fact, DO IT!  Yoga Teacher Training is a huge commitment and something you’ll take with you for the rest of your life.  That shouldn’t be something you don’t put a some thought into.

When I was first considering becoming a teacher, I emailed back and forth with Averie for months, getting advice, asking questions, and receiving immense support from her.  I’m forever grateful for her nudges in the right direction!  Once I became truly serious about finding a program, I spent hours researching and sorting out information about what was right for me.  I called multiple studios and asked tons of questions.  And you know what?  Every single person was overjoyed to offer their help in any way they could!  It’s a fact:  People love to share their knowledge.  So don’t be afraid to ask for it!


Hopefully these pointers help make the Yoga Teacher Training process a bit more clear and give you a plan for how to start out yourself on a Teacher Training Program!

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