So You Want to be a Yoga Teacher?

Yoga Teacher Training

Nicole Stone has been running ‘Yoga Breaks in Spain‘ for over a decade. Over the years, many people have told her they’d love to be a yoga teacher. Here’s a little collection of advice from her, to help you take that step… 

You’ve been practicing yoga for a while, and now you reached the stage where you’re considering taking the leap to train to be a yoga teacher. But maybe you’re still unsure if it’s really the right thing for you, if you’ll be able to make a decent living as a yoga teacher, or if you should just keep going to classes and leave teacher training for later. After all, yoga teacher training isn’t cheap, and there are lots of great yoga teachers out there already. Does the world need you to be one of them? Here are some things to consider before you commit your energy, time and money.

Do You Have to be Certified to Teach Yoga?

This may seem like a strange question, but you’d be surprised how many uncertified teachers are teaching yoga! Watching a few yoga DVDs, attending classes and maybe even beginning – but not completing – yoga teacher training, is not enough to go out and teach. Legally, there are not certification requirements in any country. Practically, it’s a different matter.

Being a yoga teacher is a huge responsibility. Not only do you need to have the basic traits of reliability, dedication, good communication skills and excellent yoga knowledge, but you’re also responsible for the health and safety of everyone who walks into your class. Without really being qualified, how would you know how to deal with clients with specific health issues such as a herniated disc, pregnancy, or scoliosis?  A good training course should teach you how to deal with these situations – and much more.      

How Much Yoga Experience Do You Need Before Taking a Teacher Training?

You don’t need to have previous yoga experience — but it helps (a lot). A yoga teacher training course can be physically and mentally challenging, and will require many hours of study, with plenty of reading and some written work, too. Having a clear idea about what yoga is about before you begin helps. There’s no hard and fast rule about how much experience you should have before you begin teacher training, and you’ll probably know when you’re ready… but if you’re unsure, ask your regular teachers if they think you are.

What Does (or Should) a Yoga Training Course Include?

Every training school will offer a slightly different syllabus. Before you choose a school, be clear on what your main area of interests are – i.e. the style of yoga you want to teach and the type of people you’d like to teach – and then research if the school you’re considering offers you the deep knowledge that you’ll need. Some schools specialize in certain styles such as yoga therapy, meditation/relaxation, restorative yoga, dynamic yoga, yoga for children, yoga for cancer, yoga for pregnancy etc. Be sure about what appeals to you the most before deciding on which school to go with.

If you’re just interested in a well-rounded training course that will serve you in a variety of situations and with a wide range of clients, then pick a course that includes the following in their syllabus: yoga history & philosophy, anatomy & physiology, yoga asanas, pranayama, meditation, how to teach, how to plan lessons, and the business of yoga. Make sure the school also offers practical periods where you’ll be expected to teach a class and be observed. Some programs may also include modules in first aid and safety adjustments.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Yoga Teacher?

The absolute minimum you should be prepared to commit to a course is 200 hours + plenty of reading & essay writing. 500 and 1,000-hour courses are also common. Each training school will schedule the hours differently. Courses can either be residential – meaning you’re away from home for a period of days/weeks, which allows you to study intensively without any interruptions – or non-residential (which will fit in around your ‘regular’ life more easily). If residential, check if accommodation/meals are included in the course fee… if not, you’ll need to pay extra for these.

How to Choose a Yoga Teacher Training Course?

As there are so many different styles of yoga, you’ve got to love the style you’ll train in and eventually teach – so, attend as many classes in that style as you can and ask as many questions as you can, both of the teachers and some other students.

Try, if possible, to attend the classes of the teacher(s) who will be teaching your course, and ask yourself: do you like them? Can they teach you what you need to know? Could you spend 200+ intensive hours with them?

Before choosing your teaching training course, you might want to ensure the school is recognized and “certified” by one of the major yoga certification bodies. Why? Because it will make it much easier to find work in different venues including health clubs, gyms, retreats, and also internationally. There are many organisations out there who add their seal of approval to different  training centers; some of the major ones are: Yoga Alliance (YA), Independent Yoga Network (IYN), British Wheel of Yoga (BWY), Friends of Yoga.

Yoga Teacher Training

What About Online Yoga Teacher Training?

If it’s difficult for you to physically attend a teacher training course at a dedicated centre on specific dates, online training is an option.  However, completing an online home study course requires an enormous amount of determination and, inevitably, you’ll have questions that would be far easier to discuss with a live tutor, face to face. You’ll also miss out on the support and camaraderie from other students. But, if online is your only option, make sure you receive a “recognized certificate” (as described above), otherwise you could be wasting your time and money going after a certificate that few future employers will recognize.

How Much Does a Yoga Teacher Training Cost?

It varies widely. Training schools charge different rates depending on where the training takes place, whether it is residential or non-residential, who is teaching (the more famous the teacher(s) the more expensive the course) and, how many different tutors will be teaching you.

Some schools offer payment plans so you won’t have to pay 100% up front. You should expect to pay (in 2015) between $1,500 and $7,000.  Books and materials can often add to the cost of the course, and you may be expected attend (for an additional fee) a number of additional classes and workshops during your training to deepen your training experience.

How Much Can You Earn as a Yoga Teacher?

There is no real answer to this question, as it depends on a great number of things. What’s more important to understand is that, unless you’re able to secure a regular full-time yoga teaching position with a regular wage, your earnings will fluctuate wildly as a yoga teacher. Your bottom line will be affected by:

  • How often, where, when, and what style of yoga you teach.  Popular class times in popular studios and popular styles will always attract more people.
  • The weather and time of year can affect how many people turn up for class. 
  • How many people are around – if you’re in a remote location, your potential audience is limited.
  • How much other teachers are charging in your area, and how many other yoga classes there are in your area.
  • How much you have to pay to rent a space.
  • How big of a following do you have? It will take a while to build your base of loyal students. This is perhaps the single largest factor that determines how successful you are as a teacher. Some people become regular celebrities, with thousands of yogis wanting to take their classes.

Still Keen to Take the Plunge?

If you’re still sure that yoga teacher training is for you, do some research on what’s available.  Talk to your teachers to find out where they trained and who they’d recommend. See if the course organizers offer ‘taster days’ before you commit. Find out what work opportunities you’ll have as a yoga teacher in your area. Be realistic. Talk to your family, friends and maybe even your employer to see gauge the support you’ll have during your training, to help you to complete the full course.

I hope this has given you food for thought. Teaching Yoga isn’t for everyone, and perhaps you’d find it more enjoyable to simply do classes and have the freedom to attend various workshops and retreats as a student, without taking on the commitment of running and managing your own classes. But if you do decide to go ahead with teacher training: best of luck! :)

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments, whether you are a yogi, teacher, or a offer training yourself. Let’s get the discussion flowing!

 

Nicole Stone

Nicole Stone is a Hatha Vinyasa Flow teacher, and yoga addict who moved to Spain in 2003 to escape the stress and pressures of corporate life. After rebuilding her health, she started a yoga retreat business, Yoga Breaks in Spain, offering a variety of retreats at beautiful little hotels near the sea. She loves seeing people unwind in the sunshine and get back into their bodies with daily yoga, walks, delicious food, and activities that allow them to experience a taste of Spain.