RPYT Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training Vs Prenatal Yoga Course

By: Steph Ball-Mitchell, E-RYT-500, RPYT, RCYT, YACEP

RPYT Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training Versus Prenatal Yoga Continuing Education Course

RPYT Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training vs prenatal yoga course

RPYT Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training is not the same as a basic prenatal yoga continuing education course.  We'll explore the differences to help you weight out which option is best for you and will best help you meet your goals.  

What is RPYT Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training?

RPYT stands for "Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher."  It is a designation that can only be obtained from Yoga Alliance.  In order to qualify as RPYT status with Yoga Alliance, one must first be registered as either RYT-200, E-RYT-200, RYT-500 or E-RYT-500 with Yoga Alliance.  Secondly, the registered yoga teacher must take an 85-hour RPYT Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training from a RPYS (Registered Prenatal Yoga School).

What is RPYS Registered Prenatal Yoga School?

RPYS stands for Registered Prenatal Yoga School.  This is a designation awarded from Yoga Alliance, the largest self-regulation body within the yoga industry.  In order for a yoga school to get the RPYS designation, the school's director must submit the curriculum to Yoga Alliance.  If the curriculum meets Yoga Alliance's rigorous standards for RPYS (Registered Prenatal Yoga School) designation, then one of Yoga Alliance's representatives calls the school director for a brief interview.  Once Yoga Alliance is satisfied that the school can safely and effectively train yoga teachers to teach prenatal yoga to pregnant women under Yoga Alliance's standards, Yoga Alliance will issue the designation.  

Yoga Alliance's standards for Registered Prenatal Yoga Schools (RPYS) include:

  • Minimum 5 in General Prenatal Background
  • Minimum 25 Hours in Techniques, Training and Practice (18 of the 25 hours must be with lead trainer)
  • Minimum 10 Hours in Teaching Methodology (6 of the 10 hours must be with lead trainer)
  • Minimum 10 Hours in Anatomy & Physiology
  • Minimum 5 Hours in Yoga Philosophy
  • Minimum 20 Hours of Practicum (12 of the 20 hours must be with the lead trainer)

Additionally, Yoga Alliance requires that the 5 hours in general background of prenatal yoga includes "Understanding the yoga teacher’s relationship with health care professionals. Knowing when to suggest that the student consult a health care professional regarding pregnancy issues. Understanding of psychological considerations during pregnancy and how to differentiate between high-risk and non-high-risk pregnancy." 

They require that the 25 hours in Techniques, Training and Practice include, "yoga techniques specialized to the needs of the pregnant person, including practice and teaching skills for trimester-specific yoga techniques. Techniques include: alignment for the expectant parent, appropriate yoga techniques for each trimester, how to practice yoga techniques safely and relaxation and stress management techniques."  

The 10 hours of Teaching Methodology must include, "design of lesson plans for the beginning and/or advanced student during each trimester."

The Anatomy & Physiology hours should include, "Human anatomy and physiology (both physical and subtle body) related specifically to considerations during pregnancy. Topics include but are not limited to: overview of what is normal anatomy and physiology during pregnancy, how organs function during pregnancy, overview of the complications, including miscarriage, premature labor, hypertension, preeclampsia and body mechanics."

The required yoga philosophy hours must include, "traditional yoga philosophy as it may apply to lifestyle and well-being during pregnancy."

The 20 required hours of practicum are broken down into 10 hours of observation and 10 hours of practice teaching.

As you can see, Yoga Alliance has rigorous standards for their Registered Prenatal Yoga Schools.  When you take a prenatal yoga teacher training that is registered with Yoga Alliance, you can be assured that you are enrolling in a prenatal yoga teacher training that covers all of these educational categories, and that you're getting an adequate amount of time with the lead trainer.  The lead trainer is someone who is a Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher and has been teaching yoga long enough to meet Yoga Alliance's requirements as lead trainer. 

What is a Prenatal Yoga Continuing Education Course?

Prenatal Yoga Courses or Prenatal Yoga Continuing Education Courses intended for yoga teachers are commonly offered, especially in this post-covid era where online yoga courses are readily available.  Some prenatal yoga courses may contain a lot of the information that you would get in a Yoga Alliance RPYT course, while others are much more basic.  There are no standards, regulations or requirements for a prenatal yoga course that is not registered with Yoga Alliance as RPYT. 

Anybody who has been registered with Yoga Alliance for a year or more can pay an additional fee to register as a YACEP (yoga alliance continuing education provider) and can then create a continuing education course that can be used for required continuing education hours for yoga teachers registered with Yoga Alliance.  This is not at all the same as an official RPYT Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training. The lead trainer does not even have to be a RPYT (Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher) themselves to offer a continuing education course.

There are even prenatal yoga courses out there advertised as continuing education courses that are being offered by people other than Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Providers (YACEP's) or Registered Prenatal Yoga Schools (RPYS).  I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with these courses or that you have to be Yoga Alliance registered to be valid.  I'm just saying that these courses don't have to meet any standards or requirements so you can't be 100% sure what you're getting when you enroll in them.  

Should I Take a Yoga Alliance Registered RPYT Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training or a Prenatal Yoga Continuing Education Course?

This is a question I'm asked a lot, and the answer is that it depends.  

Prior to taking a Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training and upgrading my Yoga Alliance registration to include RPYT, I took three or four prenatal yoga courses.  This was way before COVID, and the courses were offered in person.  I had previously learned the basics of prenatal yoga from Maty Ezraty, my original 200 hour yoga teacher trainer.  Maty spit out the basics in less than 20 minutes and covered all of the most important modifications that one needs to know when learning to teach prenatal yoga.  

I felt like I needed something more official, so I started enrolling in all of the prenatal yoga teacher trainings that were available locally over a 3 year period.  In that 3 year period, I completed one prenatal yoga workshop that offered continuing education hours and I also took 3 prenatal yoga teacher trainings that lasted anywhere from 8 hours, 16 hours and 60 hours.  Believe it or not, I learned more in the 16 hour training than I did in the 60 hour training.  All of the trainings were helpful, and I picked up something special from each of them. One of them was really anatomy-heavy.  One of them was philosophy-based.  And the third was all about prenatal sequencing and postures.

I then taught prenatal yoga for 10 years.  Many of my students returned to take my classes through multiple pregnancies.  Some were yoga teachers who eventually decided they wanted to get certified in prenatal yoga themselves.  I started to grow an "interest list" for prenatal yoga teacher training.  It was at this point that I realized I couldn't offer my students a RPYT Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training option because I myself wasn't a Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher.  This is when I enrolled in an official 85-hour RPYT Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training.  It was a little bit like rolling all of my prior prenatal yoga trainings into one. 

This was my reason for taking a RPYT prenatal yoga teacher training.  I find that many other people also take the RPYT training because they want to be able to offer their own Yoga Alliance registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training programs. 

However, there are other reasons people take the RPYT route over a basic prenatal yoga course.  One of the reasons is that they want to add the registration credential RPYT to their yoga business for credibility, or they want to add the credential to their resume to help potential employers feel better about hiring them to teach prenatal yoga.  Another reason people go the RPYT route is because they want the peace of mind knowing that they are taking a training that meets Yoga Alliance's specific educational categories and standards.  This way, they can exhale deeply as they rest in the awareness that their training is well rounded and comprehensive.

So when does it make more sense to take a basic prenatal yoga course?  I think it makes sense for pregnant women who want to adapt their yoga practice during pregnancy.   This way they can learn how to properly adapt the postures without sitting through the sequencing, anatomy and philosophy portions of the training.  It might also make sense for yoga teachers who aren't sure whether or not they want to teach prenatal yoga.  This may be a good way to explore and gather more information before committing to an entire RPYT prenatal yoga teacher training. 

Learn Prenatal Yoga Modifications

Join Us In Our Online 85-Hour Yoga Alliance Registered RPYT Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training

If you're ready to get certified to teach prenatal yoga and postnatal yoga safely and effectively, you can join us in our totally self-paced, fully online, 85-hour Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga Teacher Training (RPYT).  We offer optional live zoom sessions if you'd like to connect with us to practice teaching prenatal yoga, and we've developed a Yoga Alliance approved curriculum that allows you to complete everything from the comfort of your own home!

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