Becoming a Yoga Instructor

If you have practiced yoga for a few years and truly enjoy it, you may want to consider becoming a yoga instructor. Understanding the steps required to become a yoga instructor will have you guiding fellow yogis before you know it.

Identify the yoga practice that is right for you.
If you want to become a yoga instructor, you'll want to first explore the many methods of practice available. While all forms of yoga are based off Hatha Yoga, you may want to try a class of each of the following: Power Yoga, Astanga Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Iyengar Yoga and Anusara Yoga.

Decide if you are interested in a traditional or strict practice, or if you are more interested in a generic or Westernized version of yoga practice. Much of your preference will depend on how intense of a training program you are willing to undertake and how much you want to incorporate Asian spirituality into your classroom.

Invest time practicing.
Once you know what form of practice you want to pursue, it's a good idea to practice that form of yoga for a year or two before you consider becoming an instructor. Some fitness centers do not require certification as a yoga instructor, but most will expect you to have practiced yoga for at least a couple of years.

Make sure you can perform the asana demonstrated in your yoga class without assistance. Most training classes require you to be able to stand on your head in the middle of the room without assistance and to have practiced for at least a year.

Talk to your yoga instructor.
You can find out a lot from the instructor who teaches the classes you attend. Ask where he or she trained and how much it cost. Different programs cost different amounts, and a lot will depend on how traditional or intense of a program you wish to pursue. Find out if your instructor trained locally and ask for suggestions for training centers.

Decide if you want to be certified as a yoga teacher.
If you want to be a certified yoga teacher in the United States, you will need to find a teacher-training program that meets the standards of the Yoga Alliance. You can choose between two levels of certification. Most yoga studios require you to have completed the first level of Yoga Alliance training, which takes 200 hours of training. If you decide to pursue an advanced yoga teaching certification, you will need to complete the 500 hour training program. If you complete this training, you are certified to call yourself a registered yoga teacher (in the United States).

Where can you find a Yoga Alliance teacher-training program?
You may have to look online or ask around to find a local teacher-training program. Some programs (such as Bikram Yoga or Anusara Yoga) are very specific and are only offered in certain parts of the United States. You can look at the Yoga Alliance website at for information about training programs near you.

What if you want to become a traditional yoga master?
More traditional training programs are offered by specific masters in the United States, India or Asian countries. Again, you will have to decide how traditional you want to get with your training. You may want to travel to India for an intensive month or two month training session, where you practice every day, or you may want to find a local yogi who offers intensive one-on-one training.

What if you want to teach yoga out of your own studio or home?
You may want to consider asking a yoga teacher to mentor you personally instead of (or in addition to) taking a teacher-training course. Aim to learn from a mentor who owns his or her own studio so you learn how to run the business as well as how to inspire and instruct your students. Work with your mentor until he or she feels you are ready to move on. Attend workshops and pay attention to teaching styles so you can learn how to guide and work with students.

What if you are interested in teaching a less traditional form of yoga?
There are many variations on yoga being taught in Western countries. If you have enjoyed a class that is a twist on yoga, ask the instructor how he or she got certified to teach it. Your local fitness club may offer training programs that suit your personal take on combining aerobics or Pilates with Yoga as you see fit.
Where can you seek employment after becoming certified or finishing your training?
Depending on what kind of certification or training you have received, you can seek employment in a fitness center, a spa or a yoga studio. You can also consider opening your own studio or operating out of your own home.

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