How to Become a Yoga Teacher
Allied Health World has gathered information through independent research and interviews with practicing certified yoga teachers in an effort to simplify for our readership the process by which one becomes a yoga teacher. Use this resource freely to answer the questions you may have about the experiential requirements and personal rewards associated with a career as a yoga teacher; as well as information on choosing a particular method of practice:
Take these steps to become a yoga teacher:
- The more time spent in preparation for a career teaching yoga the better. If yoga is part of your exercise regimen, take full advantage of the yoga class you’re currently attending, and seek more advanced classes to improve your mastery and expand your repertoire of asanas, or poses.
- Attend a training program to refine your skills. Formal training programs do considerably more than just enhance your ability to perform yoga; they also train aspiring yoga teachers in how to assess clients, establish a routine, and how to effectively and safely conduct a class.
- After successfully completing a formal training program, consider becoming a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) through the Yoga Alliance, or receive a similar certification through another respected organization. A credential like RYT helps denote competency as yoga teacher.
- Get your career started by looking for employment through a local health club, gym, or yoga studio. Consider the benefits of an independent practice of your own, and take advantage of all experiences as an employee as means by which to learn how to operate your own yoga studio if you choose to do so.
What is the job outlook like for yoga instructors?
Are there some specialized forms of yoga?For many, the first step in the journey to becoming a yoga teacher begins by determining which method of practice holds the greatest personal appeal. Iyengar and Ashtanga represent the classical forms of yoga. In keeping with the open and reverential nature of this healing art, yoga is ever evolving and has sprouted offshoots in recent decades as practitioners combine ancient wisdom with a modern understanding of the physical condition. Such specialties as Bikram or Hot Yoga, Vinyasa or Flow Yoga, ISHTA, and Sivananda yoga draw from the classic methods, but have either been refined in the west or have been somewhat
Certain medically recognized methods like Therapeutic Yoga and Prenatal Yoga have been developed to accommodate different people looking to address specific needs like injury rehabilitation or prenatal care. Training programs for yoga teachers will very often be specific to one of these various methods. The following are some of the more popular methods that most yoga teacher courses are built upon:
Ashtanga Yoga: Ashtanga is a flowing and highly physical form of yoga that places great focus on pranayama, the Sanskrit word, and commonly used industry term for patterned breathing. The goal of this form of yoga is to promote spinal alignment, detoxification of the body, flexibility, and stamina through a series of 75 poses.
Power Yoga: This form of yoga is quite influenced by western culture, and was in fact established in the United States. It is Power Yoga that set into motion the original western trend of incorporating yoga into fitness. Power Yoga has no set series of poses, but rather incorporates poses of the instructor’s choosing. Power Yoga places its focus on strength and flexibility through a vigorously high-paced routine.
Kundalini Yoga: Kundalini Yoga is named for the energy within the body located at the base of the spine. Although it is still a form of physical Hatha yoga, Kundalini Yoga does deal more with the spiritual side of the art of yoga. Kundalini Yoga is performed with the intent of drawing from the body’s energy stores and channeling this energy upward through the system of seven chakras to ultimately promote health and well being on a physical and spiritual level.
Iyengar Yoga: This more aesthetic form of yoga places emphasis on bodily alignment and involves holding the posed positions for a longer span of time than would be the case with other forms of yoga. Iyengar is set apart from other forms of yoga by the fact that it incorporates the use of props that might include blocks, straps, or a yoga blanket used to aid in achieving proper alignment of the body.
Hot Yoga (Bikram Yoga): This new style of yoga has become quite popular in the west. As it’s name implies, Hot Yoga incorporates the use of a studio in which temperatures have been elevated to as high as 100 degrees. Elevated temperatures have an intended affect that is two-fold: Not only will the heat promote sweating, which is intended to purge the body of toxins, but it also allows for greater flexibility as muscles and connective tissues are far more supple when warm. Bikram Yoga is perhaps the original form of Hot Yoga; pioneered by and named after Choudhury Bikram. The distinction is that Bikram Yoga will always make use of the same series of 26 poses in the course of a routine.
Flow Yoga (Vinyasa Yoga): Vinyasa Yoga, sometimes referred to as Vinyasa Flow Yoga, or just Flow Yoga, is a broad term that encapsulates various sub-specialties. The translation of the Sanskrit word Vinyasa is “breath-synchronized movement”. It is concerned with performing graceful flowing movements with a focus on synchronizing each movement between positions with the inhalation and exhalation of breath. Although it is a general term, Vinyasa is also used to describe the three basic poses that when done in a series represent the Sun Salutation sequence: Plank Pose, Chaturanga Pose, and Upward Facing Dog Pose.
What are the experiential requirements of a good yoga teacher?The decision to become a yoga teacher usually begins by first attending classes for a number of months, or even years, in order to develop both the fundamental applied skills that the profession requires as well as the personal experience that lights the fire of passion and motivation that will drive individuals to pursue yoga teacher careers. The more time spent developing physical aptitude, the mind-body connection, and the philosophical understanding of yoga, the better prepared one will be for a successful career.
Although there are no specific experiential requirements outlined for entrance into most training programs, the general expectation is that those applying to these programs have some personal experience practicing yoga that has led them to a reasonable level of proficiency in performing the basic asana poses, as well as a fundamental understanding of the mechanics of these poses.
What are the personal rewards of working as a yoga teacher?A career spent teaching yoga is a career spent practicing yoga; so inherent to a yoga teacher career are all the incredible benefits that are unique to this ancient mind-body intervention. Practitioners of yoga who have dedicated themselves to daily practice will invariably experience excellent physical health, greater emotional control and psychological stability in all aspects of their lives.
The freedom to work in a capacity that allows for sustained spiritual growth, and that promotes health and longevity on all levels, is its own reward. Being able to spend one’s days sharing with others something that brings deep joy and personal satisfaction is the life-goal that is realized by the dedicated and reverent individual who chooses to become a yoga teacher.