Many different types and levels of yoga certifications exist, and finding the right one to meet your needs can take a fair amount of research. You'll want to consider the level of the certification, the type of yoga taught during the course, the amount of time required to complete the certification, and the price of it all.
Levels of Yoga Certifications
There are two basic levels of yoga certifications recognized by the Yoga Alliance: the 200-hour and the 500-hour levels of training.
While the 200-hour certification is enough to get a job with an area yoga studio or start your own studio, some teachers prefer to go on and complete the 500-hour training almost immediately after finishing the 200-hour training. Deciding which level of certification you would like to obtain is often best determined during the course of the 200-hour certification course. As the training nears its end, ask yourself how ready you feel to teach a group of students. If you're ready to go, you may want to save the 500-hour training as a future possibility for extended education.
Training in Different Types of Yoga
While most yoga certifications are granted through general yoga classes, there are some teacher training programs that teach a certain type of yoga, and then you become skilled in that specific discipline. For example, special training programs exist for Power Yoga, Bikram Yoga, and Christian Yoga.
Unless you have been practicing a specialized form of yoga and are sure that that is the one and only type you want to teach in the future, it may be advisable to attend a general yoga teachers' training. Once you accomplish general training, you can always attain additional certifications for specialties such as Power Yoga, Children's Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, and many others. These short yoga certifications can be earned during weekend workshops or retreats, affording you continued contact with the outside yoga world, as well as valuable certifications to put on your resume.
Yoga Certification Programs
There are numerous yoga certification programs to choose from. Because most programs can take up to a year to complete, try to find a program that is within easy traveling distance for you to make the time commitment a little more manageable. These 12 programs are located around the country and offer a number of different types of certification.
Devalila Yoga with Stephanie Pappas offers a yoga teacher immersion program. The program is located in Somerville, NJ and runs two Sundays a month year round. Only eight students are accepted into the program at a time, so call ahead to register early.
The classes run from 10am to 6pm and cover all aspects of yoga teacher training including basic Sanskrit, special needs yoga, meditation and chanting. Call the studio at 908-310-9666 for more info.
Bikram's Yoga College of India, located in Los Angeles, CA offers teacher training classes on a regular basis. Qualified applicants must be affiliated with a Bikram Yoga studio in their area, and must have been practicing there for a minimum of six months. A letter of recommendation from a local studio, as well as an ability to show proficiency in the postures is also required.
Up to 700 students may take the class at one time and the class runs for nine consecutive weeks. Contact the studio at 310-497-4748 for more information.
Savannah Yoga, located in Savannah, GA, offers yoga teacher training in several disciplines, including:
- Hot Yoga
- Yoga Therapeutics
- Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy
They offer both a weekend format, as well as a three-day intensive program to fit different schedules. Applicants must have an established practice of at least six months, either at home or in a studio. A maximum of 27 students are accepted into a program at one time. Contact the studio at 912-232-2994 for more information.
New Day Yoga
New Day Yoga offers both 250-hour and 500-hour teacher training for yoga done from a Christian perspective. The program is located in Kennesaw, GA and is taught by Dayna Gelinas, E-RYT 500. The course spans 10 weekends over the course of a year and covers all aspects of yoga teacher training, as well as bible study. Contact the studio at 678-354-1120 for more information.
The Yoga Institute
The Yoga Institute with Lex Gillan in Houston, TX offers teacher training in the Hatha style. They offer weekend intensive programs that are applicable toward a 200-level certification. Students of all levels and disciplines are welcome to apply. They also offer advanced teacher training and award national certification at the completion of the course. Contact the studio at 800-524-6674 for a brochure and tuition information.
CorePower Yoga, located in Chicago, IL, offers teacher training in Power Yoga, Hot Yoga & Hot Power Fusion and Yoga Sculpt Teacher Training Programs as well as Extensions and Level Two Power Teacher Training. They have classes in their Chicago studio, as well as in:
- San Francisco, CA
- Los Angeles, CA
- San Diego, CA
- Santa Barbara, CA
- Boulder, CO
- Denver, CO
- Colorado Springs, CO
- Honolulu, HI
- Boston, MA
- Minneapolis/St. Paul
- Portland, Or
- Austin, TX
- Salt Lake City, UT
- Seattle, WA
- Washington, DC
Classes typically run about five weeks, but there are variations based on location, and many locations also offer a week long intensive program as well. Additionally, the studio offers an online teacher training option for those who don't have access to a studio near them.
Aura Wellness Center
The Aura Wellness Center in Attleboro, MA offers both onsite and online yoga teacher training. Any serious students may attend the classes onsite, provided there is room in the program. Their online courses offer intensive training in several disciplines, including Yin, Vinyasa, Hatha and Power Yoga. Registering for the online classes gets you the programs, "Camp-In-a-Box," which includes all the materials of the course in DVD and book form, allowing you to complete the program from within your own home.
YogaWorks teacher training program offers both 200-hour and 300-hour training sessions in all 50 states, as well as in DC, in more than 80 cities total. The program is designed for serious students who have been practicing on a regular basis. Applicants should be able to complete a two hour asana practice easily and should have been practicing for at least one year prior to application.
To get accepted into most of the programs, you will need to get a signature from a certified yoga instructor that you are capable of the practice. Most programs have between 26 and 35 students enrolled at one time.
Integral Yoga Institute
The Integral Yoga Institute of New York City offers a comprehensive teacher training program for both 200-hour and 500-hour certification. Integral Yoga Institute is one of the founding members of the Yoga Alliance and their training program exceeds the basics of the Yoga Alliance certification.
A minimum of six months of yoga practice is required for admission into the program. The program is offered in spring - January to May - or Sunday intensive sessions to allow for different schedules. Contact the studio at 212-929-0585 for more information.
Flow Yoga Center
Flow Yoga Center in Washington, DC offers a 200-hour teacher training program. The program is offered twice a year - a spring intensive program or a fall/winter Immersion program. The program covers all disciplines of yoga with a special emphasis on Vinyasa. Applicants must have at least two years of yoga practice. The program has been voted Best of DC by City Paper & Washington Post Express. Contact the studio at 202-462-FLOW (3569) for more information.
Yoga Certification Time Investment
Earning the 200-hour certification can be done in as little as one month, in a yoga teacher training intensive, or can span nine months or a year at a local studio where you attend a few classes per week. If you live in an area with a yoga teachers' training option, you can often choose between these two very different formats of training.
For those whose closest training program is a few hours' drive away, the one-month intensive is an excellent solution. One-month intensives are given all over the country, as well as abroad, and feature a total yoga immersion experience. For example, a one-month intensive in India immerses you not only in yoga, but also in Ayurvedic cooking and the culture and landscapes of India.
Local options are often set up to include one weekend a month, supplemented with practicing yoga daily or once or twice a week at the studio. Local options, as well as intensives, require considerable amounts of reading and reflection. Some yoga certifications are granted only after successful completion of a final exam.
Cost of Certification
Yoga certifications vary in cost, but expect the average program fee to be around $3,500. You may also have additional costs for books and other materials, travel to and from class, lodging, and meals, plus any incidentals. The format of the training you choose may also affect the cost.
Certified as an Experienced Teacher
In addition to the 200- and 500-hour levels of certification, yoga teachers can enhance their certification level by documenting their teaching experience. Teachers with 200-hour certification should contact the Yoga Alliance after they have taught for more than two years, and have taught more than 1,000 hours of classes, to request that their status be changed to E-RYT 200 (Experienced Yoga Teacher) from RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher). The same holds for teachers with 500-level certification; after four years and 2,000 hours of teaching experience, you can become an E-RYT 500.
In addition to these levels of the Yoga Alliance, there are other programs offering yoga certifications. These programs are sometimes shorter and cheaper than those accredited by the Yoga Alliance, but may be sufficient depending on your needs.
Consider where and how you want to teach yoga in the future. If area studios require teachers to hold certification through the Yoga Alliance, you know which option to choose. For teachers planning to open a private studio, the formal certification is not as important as your ability to teach and aid students through their yoga practice.
Choosing a Program
Regardless of the program you choose, earning one type of certification or another is the first step to becoming a yoga teacher. Research your options thoroughly before choosing a program as there is no one best option that fits everyone's goals, schedules, and yoga philosophy.