So you want to be a yoga teacher. You found this practice, and it has changed your life. Right? You want to share all of its gifts with the rest of the world so others can experience the healing benefits that come with yogic life. From asana, pranayama, and meditation to yogas traditions, philosophies, and ethics, every piece is nourishing to the body, mind, and soul.
I get it. Although, I don’t think I quite got all of that when I decided to embark on my first yoga teacher training. I had been practicing yoga for less than a year and just wanted to deepen my practice and learn more about all of what yoga truly is, which may be where you’re at too. It doesn’t matter.
When something ignites the fire in your soul, you go with it, whether you know a little or you know a lot, whether you’ve been practicing for years or you recently started your yoga journey. When you know, you know- even if your goal is not to go out and spread yoga to the world. It’s inevitable. The more you learn about yoga, the more it just becomes a part of who you are.
And let me tell you this. Becoming a yoga teacher was one of the most significant decisions I’ve ever made. Although the process can seem all a little overwhelming, can’t it? There is so much training to choose from, different styles of yoga, teachers, training curriculum, and other things to think about. If yoga teacher training is something you’ve been thinking about, here’s a step by step guide to becoming a yoga teacher. Hopefully, this will help you along your way.
Step 1. Practice yoga
If you want to become a yoga teacher, you’ve probably already got this first step. But in case you haven’t, this is where you need to start. After all, it’s essential that you love and believe in what you’re going to share with the world. Try out some group classes at your neighborhood yoga studio; most offer a one-month trial pass that is super cheap. They will have a variety of yoga styles and a selection of classes from foundational beginner’s yoga to advanced asana, Yoga Nidra, and so on. You’ll want to try out a bunch of yoga styles and feel into what resonates with you. You’ll also be able to meet new yogi friends and start making connections in the industry. Don’t be afraid to stay behind after class to ask your teacher questions, either. And most importantly, have fun doing your yoga thing!
Step 2. Get Clear on Your Intentions
Why do you want to teach yoga? This is a perfect opportunity for you to reflect on your journey and get clear on your why. Whatever you do, make sure you do for the right reasons. If you want to become a yoga teacher for the money, don’t. Yoga is energy. Yoga is an intention. Yoga can only come from the heart, and you must find passion and meaning in your practice if you want to help others along their yogic path. Becoming a yoga teacher means choosing a spiritual path, and you are assisting others in developing a deep spiritual practice. As a teacher, you are there to hold space and act as a guide for your students.
Step 3. Understand Yoga Alliance
Yoga Alliance is a non-profit organization that has created guidelines for the yoga industry to regulate authenticity and uphold integrity. They are the ones who set the standards for teacher training courses and continuing education programs. So, while registering with Yoga Alliance yourself is not a requirement as a teacher, you will want to choose a registered yoga school. That way, you know the curriculum is adhering to the standards, and the study materials are up to date. It’s up to you whether you find it worth it to register yourself with Yoga Alliance once you’re certified, and it will just depend on your personal goals. It’s helpful when applying for jobs at yoga studios and retreat centers, but it’s the end all be all, and there are plenty of opportunities either way. You can register with Yoga Alliance at any time. Registering with Yoga Alliance does not guarantee you a teaching job; at the end of the day, it takes time, practice, and dedication to be able to guide a class the way your favorite teachers do. And that, my friends, cannot be measured by whether you have a Yoga Alliance membership or not.
Step 4. Complete a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training
To become a registered yoga teacher, you need to complete a minimum of 200 hours of yoga teacher training. Ideally, through a Yoga Alliance registered school, so you know it’s reliable, and you’re getting the most out of your investment. 200-hour training will teach you the basics of yoga. You will learn anatomy, alignment, some hands-on adjustments, and yoga philosophy. You will also learn verbal cues, ways to structure a class, yogic traditions, yoga sutras, and so on.
There are two different ways to get your 200-hour yoga teacher certification. You can immerse yourself in an intensive training course that will last anywhere from two to four weeks. Immersive training usually takes place in beautiful travel destinations like India, Peru, Thailand, and Bali. You can do it module style, which generally happens on weekends and spreads over six months to a year. Module style training is usually held locally out of your favorite yoga studios, and you can even choose to do your training online if that is available to you. Just make sure you do your research and ask many questions before deciding on the course that’s right for you. Request an outline of the course curriculum, know who your teachers will be, and their background and experience. Choose a style that you love and go for the training that you feel most intuitively drawn to.
Step 5. Practice Teaching
The best thing you can do once you’ve completed your 200-hour training is to start teaching immediately! Let all of that knowledge seep in and keep that ball rolling. You will be nervous, sure. But it is the best piece of advice I can give you. Practice, practice, and practice some more. Guide your friends, your family, and your fellow teachers who can hold a safe space for you to learn as you go. Offer free classes, donation-based classes, online classes, whatever you want. The more you practice, the more confident you will become. Some training even offers work-trade opportunities post-graduation so you can stay at the retreat center and start practicing your teaching right then and there. Make sure you keep track of all those teaching hours because many teaching jobs will ask for the minimum number of hours taught.
Step 6. Network
Much of becoming a successful yoga teacher is about networking and connecting with your community. It is not just what you know, but who you know will help you land any yoga-related opportunities. There is a business side of yoga, and you’ll want to start marketing yourself as soon as you can! People will love to watch you grow as your journey continues. Start an Instagram for all of your yoga content and start building a mailing list so that you can keep in touch with everyone you teach. Connect with fellow yoga teachers, join Facebook community groups, and network as much as you possibly can.
Step 7. Cover Yourself
Once you’re certified and teaching yoga, you’re going to want to make sure you’re covered by liability insurance. Accidents can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Even with the most experienced yoga teachers. No matter what, you want to be protected. You also might want to get your CPR certification too. While it’s not mandatory, it’s good to have.
There you have it, seven simple steps to start your process of becoming a yoga teacher. My only other words of wisdom are this, if you feel a connection to this practice, you feel it for a reason. Take the leap and trust yourself to commit to this journey, you will open many doors for yourself, and I promise you won’t regret it. Plus, you’ll be sharing the healing benefits of yoga with the world, and that’s a beautiful thing!
By Brett Larkin, founder of Uplifted Yoga
November 9, 2020