How do you know if you’re ready to teach, and if you are ready to take the leap to get your yoga teacher certification.
The classic answer to the question of when you’re ready for your yoga teacher certification is when people begin asking you to teach. This comes from the “teachers are chosen, they do not self-select” school of thought. The wisdom in this philosophy becomes apparent if you reflect on whether you’d rather learn from someone who has to tell you they have something teach you, or from someone who demonstrates their gifts naturally in such a way that you are drawn to seek what they possess. While I’m usually all about empowerment and self-determination, I think that when it comes to getting your yoga teacher certification, the self-determination comes in practice and empowerment comes with dedication. You’ll be a more successful teacher if you embody your teaching so completely that people seek to know your secret.
When looking for a yoga teacher certification program, it’s useful to know a little about the recent history of yoga teacher certification and registry. As recently as several decades ago, you became a teacher by living and studying with one for many years, and it often required renouncing household life. After the fitness and aerobics boom of the 80’s when instructors banded together in formal organizations to regulate the process of yoga teacher certification, it was a natural progression for yoga instructors to create their own certifying body.
Currently the accepted designation is the “Registered Yoga Teacher” conferred by the Yoga Alliance. There are two levels: RYT200 and RYT500, referring to hours of study. Either one can have an “E” before it, denoting “experienced” which in this case means logging one thousand hours of teaching over a minimum of two years. The Yoga Alliance certifies schools, which go through a strict process of proving that their yoga teacher certification curriculum conforms to the YA guidelines. How do you find one of these schools, and how do you choose the yoga teacher certification program that's right for you?
Many studios are now offering their own yoga teacher certification programs, so a great place to start is with your favorite studio. If you practice a specific style, such as Iyengar, Anusara, Bikram or Jivamukti you will want to limit your search to the schools with yoga teacher certification programs approved by your chosen style. You can research the different yoga styles in our online style guide.
You have several decision points to help winnow the field if this leaves you a plethora of choices. Investigate the terms of the yoga teacher certification program being offered: is it a residency for one or more months, or a weekend program you can participate in alongside your everyday life. Some yoga teacher certification programs demand only one weekend day per week and several classes a week with occasional full weekends. There are even intensive yoga teacher certification programs that pack all the contact hours into 7-9 days and the rest of the hours occur as distance learning. Find the yoga teacher certification program that fits with your available time and lifestyle.
Inquire about the support available after you’ve completed your yoga teacher certification. If you study at your studio, what are the chances you can teach there afterward? Is part of your yoga teacher certification program geared toward preparing you for the business of becoming a teacher? Do you receive any personal one-on-one or small group time with your lead teacher?
Consider your goal for getting your yoga teacher certification. Are you primarily seeking to deepen your own practice or is your burning desire to lead large classes of yogis ten times a week? Maybe you really want to teach a weekly class at the Senior Center or at your children’s daycare. Or maybe you’re seeking and unsure of your ultimate goal. Whatever your motivation, becoming as clear as possible before selecting your yoga teacher certification program will go a long way toward clarifying your choices. If you want to earn a living as a teacher, you will need not only a high degree of expertise, but quite a bit of experience in order to begin. You’ll also require a background in business if you’re not already business minded. Make no mistake, as a teacher you are an independent contractor with tax obligations and insurance needs. Learning about these things after spending the time to get your yoga teacher certification can squelch your buzz.
Once you’ve completed the course of study by the certified school of your choice, you fill out paperwork provided by the Alliance and pay the yearly fee. Initial yoga teacher certification takes about six weeks and needs to be renewed yearly, requiring that you take 30 hours of continuing education to keep up with your yoga teacher certification.