These days there are many kinds of yoga teacher training courses available. There is some confusion regarding the difference between 200 hour, 300 hour and 500 hour teacher training courses.
The completion of a 200–hour program results in a 200 hour yoga teacher certification, which is the basic certificate that is recognized by Yoga Alliance (US), the International Yoga Federation and most local alliances. The 200 hour yoga teacher training is the most common certification offered by yoga schools nowadays. It covers all the fundamental elements of yoga anatomy, philosophy and is supposed to prepare you to start teaching yoga.
A 200 hour yoga teacher training is spread over 200 hours of study. These 200 hours can be spread over an intensive month or a longer duration of one or two years. Even though the curriculum can vary from school to school, a good 200 hour yoga teacher training should provide you the skills and knowledge to structure and teach a class with confidence. It should cover the foundations of yoga anatomy and physiology, as well as yoga philosophy. It should also provide sufficient practical teaching practice. After completion of this course, you can register with any Yoga association or federation as RYT-200, (Registered Yoga Teacher 200) level 1.
Can I teach yoga with a 200 hour certification? Yes, generally a 200 hour certification is the worldwide accepted standard for teaching yoga.
Do I need to register as RYT 200? It is not mandatory to register as RYT-200 with Yoga Alliance (or any other yoga teacher federation) in order for you to teach. You can teach just with a 200 hour certification. In some countries however, registering as RYT 200 might increase your credibility if you are looking for a job.
Are all 200 hour courses the same? Not at all, some 200 hour course don’t cover even a fraction of other courses. While choosing a course, it is important to look at the curriculum and research if the training suits your needs and expectations.
This course is also known as the second level yoga teacher training course and is suitable for those who have already finished the first level 200 hour training. So only after finishing the first level training can you follow a 300 hour yoga teacher training. A 300 hour course is not a substitute for the first level training. A 300 hour yoga teacher training is more intense and is spread over 300 hours of training. It is often referred to as “Advanced Yoga Teacher Training”, as it’s goal is to build on the foundation of the 200 hour teacher certification, and help you advance your teaching skills and personal practice. It has an entirely different curriculum. In a 300 hour training you will deepen your understanding of fundamental asanas as well as learn to teach more challenging “advanced” asanas. You will also dive into greater depth in yoga philosophy, as well as yoga anatomy and physiology.
With most yoga teacher training schools, it is required to possess a 200 hour teacher certification in order to enroll for the 300 hour yoga teacher training. After completion of a 300 hour training you can register as RYT 300, and if you have also successfully completed a 200 hour training, you can register as RYT-500. This advanced teaching certificate indicates that you are prepared to teach yoga with the deeper knowledge and skills developed through more extensive studies.
500 hour of training is the highest international standard for yoga teachers. After completing this program, you can register as an Advanced Yoga Teacher or RYT-500 with Yoga Alliance. You will possess an in depth knowledge of the history and origin of yoga asanas and yoga philosophy. You will also have an extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology to teach safe classes to students of different ages, backgrounds and experience levels. During this course, you will also learn different meditation and concentration techniques, and with your daily intensive yoga asana classes, improve your own practice to an entirely new level.
A 500 hour yoga teacher training course is, with most schools, a combination of a 200 hour and 300 hour training.
I hope that I could help shed some light on this frequently asked question, as what the difference between a 200- 300- and 500 hour training exactly is. This blog focused mainly on the technicalities, clarifying what kind of yoga teacher registration you can obtain with each certificate. I did not discuss how greatly teacher training’s vary in terms of style, focus, experience and amount of information. Therefore, before committing to such an investment of time and money that a yoga teacher training requires: Research carefully if the teacher training suits your needs and expectations!
Ram Jain (ERYT 500) is the founder of Arhanta Yoga Ashrams and the main teacher of the different yoga teacher training’s the Arhanta Yoga Ashram offers in both Europe and India.
He teaches professional Yoga teacher training, Yin Yoga, Philosophy, Anatomy and Physiology, and Advanced Asanas in India & The Netherlands. Ram started teaching in 1998 and he has trained over 4000 yoga teachers worldwide.