Yoga Teacher- A closer look at a career providing instruction in this ancient healing art.

Allied Health World has explored the history, philosophy, and discipline of yoga to help aspiring yoga teachers gain a better understanding of the nature of this amazing mind-body intervention. Through independent research and interviews with accomplished yoga teachers, some of whom own and operate their own yoga studios, Allied Health World was able to gain a unique perspective on what it takes to pursue a career as a yoga teacher:

What is Yoga?

In the west, the vast multi-disciplinary practice of yoga has become synonymous with just one of its many facets: Physical yoga, known as Hatha yoga. Yoga actually encompasses several disciplinary paths, all of which inter-correlate and come together in a way that makes the whole apparent within each of its several parts. Jnana Yoga, the discipline of acquiring knowledge, Raja Yoga, the discipline of meditation, Karma Yoga, the discipline of work without attachment, and Bakti Yoga, the discipline of devotion can all be realized to some degree through the practice of the physical discipline of Hatha Yoga.

Consider the level of knowledge required to master the virtually limitless array of exercises within Hatha Yoga, or the meditative nature of this art. Look at the amount of work that is involved in achieving the highest states of physical ability, and the level of devotion that this requires. Here we see Jnana, Raja, Bakti, and Karma Yogas all coming together in a beautifully purposeful union to be represented in the practice of physical Hatha Yoga.

It is no coincidence that “union” and “conjunction” are included among the many meanings of the word yoga, which was originally derived from Hindu Sanskrit, but which has also been made a part of Buddhist and Jainist philosophical traditions.

Believed to have originated some 5000 years ago in the Indus Valley, and refined over these millennia by devoted practitioners, Hatha Yoga now belongs to everybody. Those interested in knowing what it takes to become a yoga teacher will be happy to learn that it is no longer a discipline reserved only for the ancient sages and yogis of India. The practice of Yoga has been brought into the mainstream and is now a foundational element of the global fitness industry. Yoga studios are a common fixture in many progressive neighborhoods; offering instructional classes to anybody interested in this proven form of exercise that seeks to perfectly unify the mind and body. Health clubs and fitness facilities of all kinds offer yoga classes, and have helped make this ancient art of physical fitness universally accessible. Yoga was one of the pivotal physical disciplines in helping Joseph Pilates, father of the Pilates method, develop his unique form of exercise, known for it’s inclusion and hybridization of ancient and contemporary schools of exercise.

Yoga is one of those beautifully timeless creations of mankind that continues to evolve along with humanity to be and as relevant now as it ever has been. What was once a discipline centered on the attainment of spiritual enlightenment and taught only by the most accomplished East Indian Asiatic yogis, is now a graceful and elegant form of exercise open to all and considered by many contemporary fitness gurus to be the most complete and effective form of preventative health maintenance in the world. Although Yoga will forever have its roots in the world’s oldest cultures, it has left its mark on the modern world and will forever be a mainstay within contemporary fitness and preventative health communities.

What are some of the physical benefits of yoga?

Yoga is known widely for its fully holistic benefits; both physiological and psychological. Through practicing yoga, the muscular, skeletal, and fascia systems of connective tissues throughout the body become stronger, more limber, and more flexible. Yoga promotes the health and proper function of the respiratory, circulatory, hormonal, nervous, metabolic and digestive systems, while increasing the efficiency of the cardiovascular system.

Yoga teachers have offered instruction to athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike, as they recognize its ability to increase stamina, range of motion in the joints, aerobic capacity, while reducing reaction time. Dancers and performers of all kinds are drawn to yoga for its ability to improve, and indeed maximize, coordination, dexterity, balance, fluidity of movement, and muscle control.

What are some of the psychological benefits of practicing yoga?

The distance between physical and psychological health is shrinking as it becomes clearer how the body’s chemical endocrine systems can have a direct and quantifiable impact on a person’s disposition, mood, and general outlook. The body and mind are rarely considered as completely independent of one another. Even the most conventional of allopathic health practitioners now realize that psychological and emotional health can be improved through regular exercise and good physical health.

So imagine how yoga teachers, who have understood this connection for millennia, can work with individuals to bring these tremendous benefits to the psyche as well as the body. Not only have the practitioners of yoga been aware of how closely physical, emotional, and psychological health are interrelated, yoga teachers have actually created and refined a discipline with the deliberate intent of addressing these closely related aspects of the human condition. In this way yoga teachers have pioneered a form of psycho-physical exercise that is about achieving balance and control at every level: physical, emotional, and psychological.

The correlation between physical, emotional, and psychological health in the practice of yoga are not vague and enigmatic notions. The very practice of yoga calls upon those who practice it to quite literally exercise the mind by bringing an intense level of focused concentration to each movement, posture, and pose. These poses are called “asanas” in the parlance of yoga’s Hindu origin. When performing yoga, the consciousness is brought to bear on the body itself such that the practitioner becomes intensely aware of her or his physical self, and then by extension other aspects of the self come into focus. This allows for a unique level of concentrated and almost meditative introspection. Those who have pursued yoga teacher careers practice the art daily and often describe how the demanding mental exercise, coupled with the intensity of the physical exercise, can lead to a heightened state of awareness that remains with them throughout the day. Comparative studies and clinical trials conducted by a number of independent health research groups reveal how regimented mental exercise of this kind improves concentration, memory, and cognitive ability while at the same time reduces or eliminates anxiety, depression, and hostility in those who practice it.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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 westernized in their presentation so as to make them more accessible to Europeans and North Americans.

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.

Yoga Teacher Jobs

For those dedicated individuals who choose to pursue yoga teacher careers, health and longevity are their rewards. Allied Health World has interviewed practicing yoga teachers and done some research of our own to explore the depths of a career spent instructing yoga classes. Here we set the expectation for the type of client aspiring yoga teachers are likely to work with, as well as the specific physiological and psychological issues they may be called upon to address:

What is the job outlook like for yoga instructors?

CareerTotal EmploymentProjected Job Growth Rate
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors280,0809.8%
Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

It would seem that yoga, and the many careers associated with it, have long since outlived what might have been originally been thought of as a trend. The public’s interest in employing preventative methods like yoga as a fundamental component to the practice of disease prevention has not waned. In fact, it has continued to grow at such a rate that the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has published a report showing a projected increase of as much as 30% in the number of gainfully employed yoga teachers in the United States between now and 2018. Those interested in learning how to become a yoga teacher will find it very encouraging to hear that the BLS describes this level of growth as much faster than average as it compares to the averages for all other professions.

It seems that people have come to realize that spending their money on yoga classes will prove to be an extremely good investment in their own health and future. In the long run, this investment pays huge dividends in both personal health and personal finance by helping to eliminate wasteful spending on medical bills tomorrow that may result from neglecting one’s health and fitness today. This revolutionary shift in thinking bodes well for the collective health of our nation as well as for those who are considering yoga teacher careers.

What specific physical ailments can yoga be used to address?

Most people begin participating in yoga classes because they already have an interest in fitness, and wish to take their bodies and minds to the next level. However, it is interesting to note that although the practice of yoga is often used to promote overall health and longevity, it has been proven very effective in dealing with a number of specific health issues, both physiological and psychological. People who have issues with insomnia and other sleep disorders have described notable improvements in the quality and regularity of sleep. It has the very tangible benefits of helping with weight loss, reducing elevated blood pressure, improving overall cardiovascular health, and even improving lung capacity by promoting an erect and upright posture that allows the lungs to perform optimally.

When using yoga as a means by which to address specific physical ailments, it is perhaps most commonly employed as a therapeutic means by which to reduce the pain and limited range of motion that are so often the result of injury. Yoga has become instrumental in therapeutic injury rehabilitation because of its unique focus on gracefully fluid movements that require the full attention of the participant. This helps to make yoga a safe and effective exercise that contributes to the flexibility and elasticity of joints, muscles, and connective tissue, which can become tight and atrophied during the recovery phase following a sports injury or car accident.

What specific psychological and emotional issues can yoga address?

Anybody who practices yoga with any degree of regularity describes how the simple mental exercise of making themselves fully conscious of each movement, posture, and pose; and how each body part and the related body system is involved, contributes to a heightened sense of well being and connectedness. It is no surprise that feelings of calmness and well-being result from the meditative nature of yoga when coupled with the patterned and controlled breathing of pranayama, which is taught to would-be instructors through yoga teacher courses.

With this understanding, yoga has actually been used quite successfully to deal directly with common psychological and emotional conditions like depression and anxiety. Many people have described having had very real results in dealing with emotional control issues related to anger, rage, and social anxiety. Yoga has also been shown to be very useful in helping people with addictive and compulsive inclinations feel a greater sense of personal mastery, and in turn demonstrate more control over their compulsive behavior.

What is the demographic that yoga teachers work with?

Yoga teacher careers in fitness facilities like health clubs, gyms, or yoga studios will allow a great opportunity for exposure to different types of clientele with very different levels of ability. Some may be very new to the practice and will require a unique level of attention as they learn to master the poses in proper form, while others may be quite advanced but interested in the motivation and extra push offered by a facilitated group class. Classes will be structured based on skill level, but it is always the responsibility of the yoga instructor to read his or her students and assess their ability so as to safely cater to their ability and personal expectations of what they’d like to achieve in the class.

Yoga teachers who establish an independent practice have considerably more control over the type of client they work with. Some study and practice therapeutic yoga and work specifically with people who are recovering from car accidents or sports and work related injuries. Others study prenatal yoga and work exclusively with expectant mothers. Still others specialize in geriatrics and cater to the special needs of the elderly. Although most independently employed yoga teachers operating their own studios provide general instruction rather than catering to a specific segment of the population, they do very often offer separate classes that cater to beginner, intermediate, and even advanced level students.

Yoga Certification Programs

Through interviews and research Allied Health World has gathered information on the process, benefits, and misconceptions associated with becoming certified as a yoga teacher. Here we answer the questions that are most frequently asked about national yoga teacher certification by those individuals who are considering being trained for a career teaching yoga:

Why should I consider national certification as a yoga teacher?

Becoming nationally certified as a yoga teacher is completely elective. There are no specific licensing or yoga teacher certification requirements set by individual states, nor are there any mandated by the federal government. For those who wish to become a yoga teacher, the only requirement is adequate personal experience performing yoga and successful completion of a formal training program. Still, national certification is worth considering as it does give a level of assurance to prospective employers, peers, and clients that the training received was comprehensive and recognized by a respected collective of professional yoga teachers. Of the health clubs and gyms that require national certification, most will hire an uncertified applicant with the understanding that retaining employment is conditional upon becoming certified in the first year of teaching.

National organizations offer certification that is intended to function as a verifier to clients and prospective employers that the certified yoga teacher has graduated from a reputable training program that respects the history and tradition of yoga, and that is at minimum 200 hours in length. These organizations often facilitate competency and skills testing for graduates of approved programs as a condition for becoming certified. Joining one of these organizations will require annual dues as well as some continuing education in order to renew certification. These organizations often offer opportunities for meeting their continuing education requirements quite easily through seminars, workshops, or online study. A national organization for yoga teachers will usually offer the benefit of an online registry for its members that will allow clients and employers alike to confirm that a yoga teacher is indeed certified. The general public can even use an online registry to shop for certified yoga teachers in their area.

What are some of the national yoga teacher certification agencies?

A number of national and international organizations exist that offer yoga teachers the opportunity to distinguish themselves through certification. The Yoga Alliance is perhaps the best recognized organization of this kind. The stated mission of the Yoga Alliance is to promote quality instruction to yoga teachers so as to ensure that those who will be working with the public as teachers, and by extension functioning as ambassadors of yoga, are well aware of yoga’s benefits and historical significance.

Other organizations include the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). This international organization is concerned with conducting research into the many-facetted benefits of yoga, while working with yoga teachers to help establish yoga as a recognized and respected form of physical, emotional, and psychological therapy.

The IABYT (International Association of Black Yoga Teachers) is dedicated to increasing the presence of yoga within inner city communities. This IABYT makes focused efforts to bring black yoga teachers from around the world together under a common organization to create a forum for mutual support, nurturing, and inspiration, all with the intent of promoting access to quality yoga instruction within inner city neighborhoods.

Many other yoga teacher organizations exist that cater to specific methods of yoga. A quality education through a reputable training program should be the primary concern of anybody considering a career as a yoga teacher. After this, yoga teacher certification through one of these organizations is always available after testing for competency and paying the required dues.

What are the typical training standards for national yoga teacher certification?

The training standards set by most of these organizations is quite consistent across the board. Most schools offering programs to aspiring yoga teachers make an effort to meet these requirements so as to gain approval and improve their standing within the national and international community of yoga teachers, therapists, and practitioners. It is worth noting that graduates of programs that haven’t yet been recognized by the Yoga Alliance can still become certified and gain the RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) credential after a more extensive application process, which would include demonstration of competency.

As an example, the Yoga Alliance offers two levels of recognition to its members: The Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) 200 level and 500 level, commonly denoted by the credentials RYT 200 and RYT 500.

Two hundred hours of training through approved yoga teacher courses will prepare graduates to join the Yoga Alliance as Registered Yoga Teachers. These 200-hour long programs are the ones most commonly offered by schools with yoga teacher training courses. These courses will very often break down as follows:

  • One hundred (100) hours of techniques training and practice
  • Twenty-Five (25) Hours of teaching methodology
  • Twenty (20) hours of anatomy and physiology
  • Thirty (30) hours of yoga philosophy, lifestyle, and ethics for yoga teachers
  • Ten (10) hours of practicum and observation

The difference of fifteen hours is usually distributed among these categories in accordance with what a given school chooses to emphasize.

Some aspiring yoga teachers opt for the more robust 500-hour programs leading to the RYT 500 credential. These programs are expected to cover the same topic categories as those listed above, but spend more time exploring each of these in greater depth.

Yoga Instructor Courses

Allied Health World has conducted independent research and spoken extensively with recent graduates of yoga teacher training programs in an effort to help our readers understand the educational, experiential, and training requirements for a career spent teaching yoga. Here you’ll find answers to the most frequently asked questions about the curriculum, course structure, and educational environment of schools offering yoga teacher courses:

How are yoga teacher courses structured?

Most training courses designed to prepare the next generation of yoga teachers are 200 hours in length total. Some graduates of these programs opt to pursue more comprehensive programs, which are usually taken after completing and showing proficiency in the initial 200-hour class. Even when augmented with additional levels of training, the total time invested in preparing for a yoga teacher career is about 500 hours. This can usually be completed in as few as three months when attending classes part-time.

These courses will place a primary focus on training would-be teachers to master the more common asana poses to such an extent that they are able to instruct others in how to perform them properly. The asanas that are taught in a yoga teacher training program will often differ from one program to the next depending on the particular yoga method the class is centered on. Learning the basic 12 asanas is standard, but some courses teach a series of as many as 75 asanas.

Yoga teacher training courses are usually structured to include a significant portion of classroom time spent learning the principals and philosophy of yoga, routine development, anatomy specific to the particular asanas being taught, as well as how to lead a group meditation, and how to assess clients based on their physical aptitude. Mat time, or floor time, during which aspiring teachers are themselves instructed on the proper form and technique of each movement and pose will make up the majority of the time spent in the training program.

It is important to note that training programs for the various different yoga methods will be structured differently in accordance with the principals and practices of the respective method. For example, training in the Ashtanga method will place a considerable focus on the meditative aspects of yoga, while a training program for Iyangar will instruct students in the use of various props that can be incorporated into a routine.

What specific coursework can I expect from yoga instructor training programs?

Training programs for yoga teachers can vary quite widely in terms of the classes they offer. Generally, certificate programs for yoga instructors place the focus primarily on the mastery of the 12 basic asanas. These programs will also focus on how to offer instruction to others in the mechanics of these poses and the best ways to maintain proper form when performing them so as to safely maximize their effectiveness.

Those who opt to expand their understanding of the human body and how it responds to diet and exercise may go on to pursue associate’s and even bachelor’s degrees in exercise science, general health and wellness, physical education, or kinesiology. Those who choose a more academic path so as to gain the knowledge that will dramatically enhance their level of professional expertise will encounter a much heavier load of didactic coursework. Classes included in these types of programs would include nutrition science, anatomy, physiology, biology, and kinesiology, among others.

What is an “asana” in the discipline of yoga?

Yoga, in all of its forms, is practiced as a series of postures and poses. These poses are referred to collectively by the Sanskrit word “asana”. Each asana was designed and refined to isolate specific sets of muscles and related connective tissue in various combinations. That is to say that although many asanas make use of the same individual muscle groups and fascia, each asana represents a different variation or combination of these muscles and connective tissues.

Yoga focuses on asana poses performed with absolute precision and total control, all the while being mindful of regular deep breathing. In this way, the practice of yoga is an evolution of mastery. It isn’t a matter of simply learning a series of asanas, but rather learning to perfect the control, balance, stability, and fluidity with which each asana is performed. There are countless asanas that are incorporated into the various forms of yoga. The following list includes the few dozen that are among the most universally used, and that are likely to be included in the yoga teacher courses that train students to become yoga teachers themselves.
Listed here are yoga asanas by their western names as well as their original Sanskrit names in parentheses. The first twelve listed here represent what are often referred to as the basic poses:

  • Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana)
  • Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sirsasana)
  • Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
  • Seated Forward Bend (Paschima Tana)
  • Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
  • Locust Pose (Shalabasana)
  • Crow Pose (Bakasana)
  • Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
  • Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
  • Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
  • Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)
  • Plow Pose (Halasana)

Beyond the first 12 basic asanas are dozens of others of varying levels of difficulty. Different yoga methods incorporate various combinations of these asanas, so it is reasonable to expect that regardless of the method being trained, some of these asanas will be included in all yoga teacher courses:

  • Flying Crow Pose (Eka Pada Galavasana)
  • Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
  • Awkward Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
  • Four Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)
  • Staff Pose (Dandasana)
  • Sleeping Vishnu Pose (Anantasana)
  • Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)
  • One-Legged King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
  • Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
  • Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)
  • Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
  • Monkey Pose (Hanumanasana)
  • Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirasana)
  • Pendant Pose (Lolasana)
  • Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
  • Cobbler’s Pose (Baddha Konasana)
  • King Dancer Pose (Natarajasana)
  • Boat Pose (Navasana)
  • Lotus Pose (Padmasana)
  • Revolved Half Moon Pose (Parivritta Parsvakonasana)
  • Revolved Side Angle Pose (Parivrtta Parsvakonasana)
  • Compass Pose (Parvrtta Surya Yantrasana)
  • Revolved Triangle Pose (Parivritta Trikonasana)
  • Side Crow (Parsva Bakasana)
  • Pyramid Pose (Parsvottonasana)
  • Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
  • Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
  • Goddess Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
  • Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
  • Reclined Big Toe Pose (Supta Padangustasana)
  • Firefly Pose (Tittibhasana)
  • Seated Wide Legged Straddle (Upavistha Konasana)
  • Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana)
  • Raised Hands Pose (Urdhva Hastasana)
  • Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Muhka Svanasana)
  • Standing Big Toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padanqusthasana)
  • Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
  • Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana)
  • Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
  • Extended Child’s Pose (Balasana)
  • Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
  • Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana)
  • Hero Pose (Virasana)
  • Scorpion Pose (Vrschikasana)
  • Forearm Stand (Pincha Mayurasana)
  • Corpse Pose (Savasana)

Yoga Teacher Salaries

Yoga Teacher Salary

CareerAnnual Mean WageBottom 10% Annual WageTop 10% Annual Wage
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors$43,720$19,640$74,520
Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Yoga instructors demonstrate moves and help students adjust their form when they perform them incorrectly. They may also help students learn how to breathe correctly and how to live a healthier lifestyle.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for this field is below the national annual wage for all occupations. This may depend on geographic location, training, and how many clients you see.

Is it difficult to find a job in this field?

Bls.gov reports that the position of yoga instructor is expected to grow about as fast as average from 2012 through 2022. This growth may be due to older Americans using yoga as a low impact method of exercise.

Is there room for advancement in this field?

There is little room for advancement in the career. You may be able to eventually work toward managing a yoga center, or perhaps switch the discipline you want to teach, but career movement is limited.

Are there any licensing requirements for this field?

While you need to complete a formal training program to become a yoga instructor there are no state or federal requirements for earning certification. That is entirely up to you. If you do wish to earn a certificate the Yoga Alliance has a few different designations:

  • Registered Yoga Teacher 200 - In order to earn this certification you would need to enroll in a 200 hour yoga program that is affiliated with the Yoga Alliance. You must receive your training from the same school all the way through and cannot use any other hour to count toward the 200. There are no extra teaching hour requirements to earn this certification.
  • Registered Yoga Teacher 500 - Earning this certification requires that you complete a 500 hour training program. You can complete these hours all together, or complete a 300 hour program if you already hold the Registered Yoga Teacher 200 certification. You will also need to have completed 100 hours of teaching experience to earn this certification.

There are other certifications that can be earned. Please visit the Yoga Alliance website for more information.

Fitness Trainers and Instructors, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012,

Credentials for Registered Yoga Teachers, Yoga Alliance,

Yoga Teacher Schools