Photo by Carl Barcelo

Learn the 4 Steps to Becoming a Yoga Instructor

Yoga has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years and as more and more people begin discovering Yoga as a form of exercise and see and see the benefits from a physical and mindset standpoint. The demand for yoga instructors is increasing. 

If you’re here, you’re obviously contemplating starting your journey to become a Yoga instructor.  Below we have put together a comprehensive guide on how to start your journey to become a yoga instructor. 

Decide on the type of yoga that you want to focus on 

Choosing the right type of yoga is the first step you should consider when going down the route of becoming a yoga instructor. Although you don’t necessarily have to specialize in a specific form of yoga to teach any form of yoga. Most courses focus on one type of yoga as the core of the learning. So you are better off focusing on your own type, to begin with, and you can expand to other forms of yoga as you progress in your training. Some yoga teacher training studios will only have a generic course, so if you’re looking to work in Hot yoga you better off finding a course that specializes in that. 

There are many types of yoga and it’s probably most fitting to go down the yoga type to which you have the most exposure. This will mean you can have a head start on the teacher training process. Below will be some of the options you will have in the styles of yoga you can choose.  If you’re looking for the most popular and robust in terms of yogi’s interest then we would suggest going with Vinyasa or Hatha yoga courses. As these classes definitely have the largest demand.

Main types of yoga 

Hatha Yoga 

This is the type of yoga that most people are probably most familiar with.  Typically Hatha is used as a broader term for the physical elements of yoga and a number of other forms of yoga such as Vinyasa and Bikram could also be considered a form of Hatha. We recommend that you start with Hatha if you don’t have a preference on the type of Yoga that you focus on as it’s definitely the most popular and it’s a great base for kicking off your yoga teaching career.

Vinyasa Yoga 

This style of yoga represents the gradual flow between poses. It’s heavily focused on having continuity in a practice. The literal meaning of Vinyasa in Sanskrit is “to place in a special way”. It follows the breath between movements that adds to this flow style of yoga. Typically a more vigorous style of yoga. Classes will always be unique, so no need to worry about the classes becoming mundane.

Yin Yoga

The pace of Yin Yoga is definitely on the slower side. The focus of Yin classes is on holding poses for progressively longer periods of time. By the end of class, you should be holding poses for up to 5 minutes. 

Ashtanga Yoga 

This is considered the most physically demanding style of yoga and is a modern-day adaptation of traditional yoga. The class follows a set routine, so if you like structure this is the style for you. 

The class will have a primary series that begins with sun salutations, followed by standing and seated poses, and cumulates in a physical sequence that usually includes some sort of headstand, hand balance, or backbend. Power yoga originates from Ashtanga but is a little less regimented than then its original form.  

Bikram/Hot Yoga 

There is a slight difference between Hot Yoga and Bikram yoga.  Hot yoga typically follows a vinyasa flow style class. While Bikram yoga is more similar to a power yoga class done in the heat. 

Bikram Yoga was popularized by Bikram Choudhury in the early 1970’sThe practice takes place in a studio with a temperature of 105 °F (41 °C). The conditions are meant to replicate that of the Indian summer climate. The founding location of Yoga.

Get certified 

Although there are no universally recognized yoga organizations, for most countries it’s worth going with the registered yoga alliance which is the most recognized one. One of the best ways of identifying good yoga teacher training courses. Is to ask your favorite yoga instructor where they are learning.  Referrals are a great way of finding a good one. In order to get certified to be a yoga instructor by the registered yoga alliance, you will need to complete a 200-hour course.

The accreditation from this alliance is internationally recognized; most countries will be covered, but it’s worth double-checking that your country recognizes this accreditation. 

It’s important to be aware that it will most likely take a few months in order to complete the 200 hours that are necessary. It is possible to do these a little quicker, but the quickest you can really do it is a 21-day intensive course, but be prepared to commit a full three weeks to get it done this swiftly. 

If you’re going to go down the route or working in a larger yoga studio or in a health/fitness center it’s important that you undertake CPR training.  In order to work in these areas, you will most likely be required to have CPR training.  So, it’s worth doing ahead of time if you plan on going down this route.  

If you decide to go through the yoga alliance then the course will follow the following structure 

  • Learning about the different types of yoga 
  • Focus on technique, postures, alignment, and how to make adjustments and teach in class
  • Yoga philosophy 
  • Anatomy 
  • Meditation and mindfulness 

Once you certified there is still work to be done 

Practicing yoga is a constant progression, so sadly there’s no one and done solution to becoming a yoga instructor. Like any career or pastime, you will need to experience and establish yourself as a yoga teacher. Although when you get certified teaching is obviously a large part of the process, there is no substitute for the studio experience. 

So, whether this is a teacher, your family or friends. Get started and find your teaching voice. If you want yoga teaching to be a full-time job it’s important that you start to build a community around your yoga classes. This could be through starting your own studio, running classes in your house, or a local community center to streaming classes online.  It’s integral to build loyal yogis. 

Continuation of training

Yoga is a constant learning process as both a teacher and a yoga enthusiast. Just to stay a member of the yoga alliance will require that you take 75 hours of continued education every three years to hold on to your accreditation. There are also obviously more levels of yoga teaching courses that you can do.

Important things to think about before deciding on a career in Yoga 

In any job that is in the fitness industry, you have to be aware that you will need to work when most people aren’t. So, on weekends and evenings during the week. So be prepared to adjust your lifestyle to the required working hours.  

One of the most difficult elements to making the move to being a full-time yoga instructor is getting your foot in the door of a yoga studio or building a community of yogis. Getting accreditation is very much the first step in a longer process of building a list of clients that regularly come to you for practice.

A good way of starting to make a name for yourself if you don’t have the capital to start your own yoga studio or you can’t get your foot in the door to become employed as an instructor in an established studio is to create your own content.  Whether this is through Youtube videos, free lifestream sessions, or creating a Tiktok account focused on Yoga tips there are loads of avenues to establish yourself in the yoga instructor market. The key to the content creation element is to create high-quality content on a regular cadence. 

Important skills to have as a yoga instructor 

Before embarking on this journey it is important to self evaluate yourself to see if you have the skills necessary to be a yoga teacher.  If you don’t see the skills in yourself now, that ok you will learn some of them through your training, but identifying yourself if you have the potential to develop these skills is an important thing to acknowledge. 

  • Interpersonal skills 

To be a great teacher in general it’s important that you have good people skills. Things such as leadership, motivation, communication, and listening to name a few. Are important traits to have in becoming a competent instructor. To manage the flow of the class you will need to interact with people of different temperaments and personalities, so having well-rounded interpersonal skills is a must to become an efficient yoga instructor.  

  • Business savvy 

There’s a difference between being a good teacher and a successful teacher. While becoming a good teacher from a practice standpoint will eventually lead to a strong client list and money flowing in. It’s integral that you get the business basics down as well.  These are areas such as pricing, negotiating with suppliers, marketing, and accounting.  

  • Be a great networker

Finding your first yoga gig can be a difficult task. So, it’s very important to mingle and put yourself out there in the local yoga community.  If you’re going down the route of yoga teacher training you have most likely been practicing for a while.  So, asking if they have any openings at the studio you practice is a great start.  A Lot of the time yoga instructors will teach in a number of different studios. So asking them as well can be a great route. 

Written by Adrian

An avid Yogi, I have been practicing yoga for a number of years. Enthused by all things yoga and love writing about my experiences and learnings

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