Becoming a Certified Yoga Instructor

How to Become a Certified Yoga Teacher

Becoming a Certified Yoga Instructor

Becoming a Certified Yoga InstructorBecoming a Certified Yoga Instructor

becoming a certified yoga instructor how to become a certified yoga teacher

There is no better time to learn how to become a certified yoga instructor.  Now, yoga training is more accessible than it has ever been and there are many options available for you.  Finding the yoga teacher training program that meets your needs and resonates with you is 


History of Yoga Teacher Training


Yoga is an ancient practice that has been around for thousands of years.  In the Vedic times, dedicated yoga students would go and stay in the ashram with their yoga teachers to learn.  The length of time that was required to become a yoga teacher was undetermined.  The relationship between yoga students and yoga teachers was very different than it often is today.  It was a close relationship and students deeply honored their guru, or teacher.   While at the ashram, students would serve their teacher in whatever way the teacher requested, usually by caring for the animals, caring for the land or possibly preparing food.  The learning process was not complete until the teacher believed that the student was ready.

As yoga made its way to the Western hemisphere, the nature of the student/teacher relationship began to change.  Krishnamacharya, often referred to as the father of modern yoga, had three students that really were responsible for bringing yoga to the U.S.  They were BKS Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois and Indra Devi.  BKS Iyengar brought attention to alignment and introduced the use of props to us.  K. Pattabhi Jois brought us Ashtanga.  Indra Devi taught a classical form of Hatha yoga.  In addition to these three students, Krishnamacharya's son, T.K.V. Desikachar, was responsible for bringing his own style of yoga to the West, Viniyoga.

Once these styles of yoga made it to the West, yoga practitioners were interested in taking their practice to the next level.  Many wanted to become yoga instructors themselves.  Iyengar, Jois and Devi all worked with students closely.  For example, my yoga teacher, Maty Ezraty, studied with K. Pattabhi Jois.   The students of Iyengar, Jois and Devi would eventually go on to host their own yoga instructor trainings, as Maty did.  In 1999, just before the official formation of Yoga Alliance, the 200-hour yoga teacher training model was birthed.  

The 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training Model


Interestingly, a few people decided that 200 hours would be the bare minimum length of time a person should have to study to become a yoga instructor. Dean Ornish, MD had published a medical article that found yoga and meditation to be useful in reversing the damage of heart disease.   This led to many medical doctors and their staff wanting to be certified as yoga teachers so that they could offer this practice to their patients.  The 200-hour program put into place was thought to be sufficient for this specific population who had already gone to medical school and who had an in-depth understanding of anatomy and physiology.

Yoga is an unregulated industry.  You do not need the government's permission or any type of license to teach yoga.  There is no government board that oversees yoga teachers or yoga schools.  We instead have Yoga Alliance.  Yoga Alliance is an organization based in Virginia that seeks to provide self-regulation for those of us in the yoga community.  The idea is that if we regulate ourselves by creating our own standards and adhering to them as a community, there will be no need for government interference.  At least that was the way it was positioned to me many, many years ago.  Yoga Alliance adopted the 200-hour yoga teacher training model.  


Yoga Alliance Registration Options for Yoga Teacher

Yoga Alliance offers the following registration options for yoga teachers:  RYT-200, E-RYT-200, RYT-500, E-RYT-500, RPYT and RCYT.  RYT-200 is a 200-hour yoga teacher who has completed a yoga teacher training with a Yoga Alliance Registered School.  E-RYT-200 is a 200-hour yoga teacher who has completed a yoga teacher training with a Yoga Alliance Registered School and who has four years of experience and a specific number of teaching hours.  RYT-500 is a 500-hour yoga teacher who has who has completed either a 500-hour yoga teacher training with a Yoga Alliance Registered School or who has completed both a 200-hour and 300-hour yoga teacher training from a Yoga Alliance Registered School.  RPYT is a Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher who has taken a Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training from a Yoga Alliance Registered Prenatal Yoga School.  RCYT is a Registered Children's Yoga Teacher who has taken a Children's Yoga Instructor Training from a Yoga Alliance Registered Children's Yoga School.

Additionally, Yoga Alliance offers a YACEP registration option. YACEP stands for Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider.  Only registered yoga teachers with a specific amount of experience who have been registered for a specific amount of time are eligible to register as YACEP's.  There are categories of continuing education that YACEP courses must fall into.

How To Become A Certified Yoga Instructor

If you've been wondering how to become a certified yoga teacher, look no further.   These are the steps to become a certified yoga teacher:


1)  Decide if you want to take a 200-hour or 500-hour yoga teacher training program

You may choose to become a 200-hour yoga teacher, or you may choose to become a 500-hour yoga teacher.  Even if you decide to become a 500-hour yoga teacher, you still have the option of beginning with a 200-hour yoga teacher training program and then taking a 300-hour yoga instructor training program later to become a 500-hour yoga teacher.

I recommend starting with the 200-hour foundational course for several reasons.  First of all, it is really helpful to take the 200-hour yoga teacher training first and give yourself some time and space to absorb all that you learn before taking the more advanced 300-hour yoga teacher training.   Once you've been teaching for a few years, the 300-hour yoga teacher training will be much more meaningful.  You will have developed your own teaching style and found topics that you're passionate about that might influence your 300-hour teacher training decision.  Another reason I recommend taking the 200-hour yoga teacher training first is that 500 hours is a lot of time, and you might want to split the 500 hours up between two different teachers to have a wider knowledge base.  

In my initial 200-hour training, we had a strong focus on asana and alignment.  My second 200-hour training had a lot of yoga philosophy.  When I took my first 300-hour training, I wanted an anatomy-based training because neither of my 200-hour training experiences were very strong in anatomy.  If you take all 500 hours at the same time from the same teacher, you deny yourself this opportunity.

2) Decide whether or not you want to train with a Yoga Alliance Registered School

The 200-hour yoga teacher certification is the foundation level certification for yoga teachers.  This is the first step in becoming a yoga teacher.  As we've discussed, you may start with a 200-hour program or you may dive right into the 500-hour program.  

You don't have to choose a Yoga Alliance Registered School unless you want to register with Yoga Alliance.  Many studios and other organizations look for teachers who are Yoga Alliance registered so many yoga teachers choose to register for that reason.  They also provide a lot of free workshops and helpful information to support yoga teachers, they offer discounts on products and services that yoga teachers are likely to use and they advocate for yoga teachers.  If you decide to register with Yoga Alliance, you want to make sure that the school you choose is a Yoga Alliance Registered School.

In the same way that Yoga Alliance has registrations for yoga teachers, they also have registrations for yoga schools.  There are RYS-200 (200-hour Registered Yoga Schools), RYS-300 (300-hour Registered Yoga Schools), RYS-500 (500-hour Registered Yoga Schools), RPYS (Registered Prenatal Yoga Schools) and RCYS (Registered Children's Yoga Schools).  You can always verify a school on Yoga Alliance's website, www.yogaalliance.org. Each school has it's own Registered School Profile.


3.  Choose the yoga teacher training program that works for you.


There are many yoga training programs available. We are the Original Online Yoga School, and we have been offering our yoga teacher training programs online and in person long before COVID.  Once the pandemic swept the world, Yoga Alliance began accepting online yoga training programs and many of our colleagues have joined us in offering online yoga teacher training programs.  Your first choice is to decide whether or not you want to choose an online program or an in person program.  

Do your research.  If you're training in person, check out locations, schedules, training requirements and try to attend information sessions.  If you are planning to train online, research the options available for online yoga teacher training.  Find out what promotions each school is running and try to get the most bonuses available in yoga teacher training.   If the school has a blog or a youtube channel, spend some time there and learn the teaching pedagogy of the school.  

Choosing the right yoga instructor training program is an important step in becoming a certified yoga teacher.  You want to choose an online yoga school or yoga teacher training program that feels right for you.  There are so many options so you should not settle for a school that does not align with your perspective.  


4) Enroll in your 200-hour yoga teacher training program 


Once you've chosen your program, the next step is to enroll.   Enrollment is much easier today than it used to be.  The days of students going to stay with their teachers in an ashram are over, and you can enroll for many online yoga teacher training programs online in just a few clicks.  Self-paced yoga teacher training programs will allow you to begin immediately and work in your own time.  


5)  Complete your requirements for graduation and earn your 200-hour yoga certification (Enjoy!)


The best part of becoming a certified yoga teacher is to complete the 200-hour yoga instructor training requirements.  For those of us who love yoga, there is no greater form of self-love than to enroll in a yoga teacher training that nourishes us and encourages our growth.  Soak up all the moments of this joyous experience and try not to rush towards the finish line.  This is a time for mindfulness and the slower you move through your training, the better. 


6)  Register With Yoga Alliance 


If you've decided to register with Yoga Alliance, you are able to do so after you earn your 200-hour yoga certification.  Registration with Yoga Alliance is optional and all that you need to teach yoga is a 200-hour certification from a school like ours.  


Working as a yoga teacher is fulfilling and gives us the opportunity to share our love of this sacred practice with others. When one teaches, two learn.   I learn every time that I teach, and my students have taught me way more than I could ever teach them.  If you're interested in how to become a certified yoga teacher, I just want to encourage you to follow your heart.   It's also important to remember that the 200-hour yoga certification is just the entry level to teaching yoga and yoga teachers should continue educating themselves and growing.

About the Author

Founder of Online Yoga School and Yoga & Ayurveda Center

Becoming a Certified Yoga InstructorSteph Ball-Mitchell, E-RYT-500, RPYT, RCYT, YACEP, CAADC

Steph has over 25 years of experience in yoga and movement.  Her understanding of yoga and the human body has been influenced by lifelong dancing and holistic health.  She found her life’s purpose in helping people become happier and healthier through her own healing journey.  Steph assists her students in knowing the joy and wonderment of integrating the mind and body through accessible yoga.  She encourages an authentic and life-nurturing practice, one that brings greater consciousness to each moment and every movement of the body with a heavy emphasis on breath.  

With a masters degree in counseling, Steph brings awareness, acceptance and a down to earth approach to her classes.  She studied with Maty Ezraty and later completed her second 200-hour training with Nancy Candea at Yoga Impact in New Jersey and her 300-hour training with Chris Loebsack at Boundless Yoga Studio in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.   The perpetual student, Steph has studied with Leslie Howard, Travis Eliot, Bryan Kest, Donna Farhi and countless others.  She has extensive training in pelvic floor yoga, restorative yoga, yin yoga, power yoga and accessible yoga.  Most recently, Steph was certified as a Grand Master of Meditation through Swami Vidyanand.

Steph founded Yoga and Ayurveda Center with her husband.  She later launched Online Yoga School to support her local trainings and has recently launched a virtual yoga studio to accommodate the international community of trainees.

When she isn’t on her mat, Steph can be found volunteering, enjoying her husband and children, dancing and cooking.  She currently enjoys serving on the board of World Yoga Federation and Meditation Alliance International and previously enjoyed serving on the Education Committee of Yoga Alliance and places a strong emphasis on inclusivity in her teacher trainings.  


FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Becoming a Certified Yoga Instructor With Online Yoga School

  • What type of certificate will I receive at the end of my program?

    When you take our 250-hour yoga teacher training online (RYT-200), you will receive a 250 hour yoga teacher certification and can register with Yoga Alliance as a RYT-200. When you complete our 300-hour yoga teacher training, you will receive a 300-hour yoga teacher certification and when combined with your 200-hour certification, you will become a 500-hour yoga teacher and will be eligible to upgrade your Yoga Alliance registration to RYT-500. If you take our children's yoga teacher training, you will receive a children's yoga teacher certification and can upgrade to RCYT with Yoga Alliance. With our prenatal yoga teacher training, you will receive a prenatal yoga teacher certification and can upgrade to RPYT with Yoga Alliance.

  • What date will my yoga teacher training certificate show?

    The date on your certificate will be the date that your certificate is issued once you have completed the requirements for certification.

  • Can I become a yoga teacher if I enroll in yoga courses separately rather than enrolling in a 200 hour yoga teacher training program?

    No, the only way to become certified to teach yoga is to take a 200-hour yoga teacher training program.

  • What is the time requirement, if I want to take additional yoga certifications from Online Yoga School?

    All of our trainings are self-paced so you can complete them at your own pace. Your first step is to complete our 250-hour yoga teacher training. Once you are certified as a 200-hour yoga teacher with us, you can take the free bonus certifications that you receive when you enroll in our 250 hour yoga teacher training. These include chair yoga certification, restorative yoga certification and ayurveda specialist certification. All of these bonus course certifications will count as continuing education for you. Once you've completed the 250-hour, you are eligible to take our 300-hour, prenatal or children's yoga teacher training.

  • What if I am already a Yoga Teacher registered with Yoga Alliance and I want to take additional trainings online?

    Once you've completed a 200-hour yoga teacher certification, you can take our continuing education courses online. You can also register in our 300-hour yoga teacher training, prenatal yoga teacher training or children's yoga teacher training.

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