When you have finished a yoga teacher training and you want to start teaching, there are a few practical questions you should think about. For example, which certification and registrations are required for teaching yoga in your own country or elsewhere? What are the legal requirements for teaching yoga in your country and worldwide? How can you obtain a teacher registration at a national or international yoga teachers alliance? And do you need any insurance for teaching yoga? Here is an overview with some guidelines that hopefully will help you to get ready to teach worldwide.
The profession of teaching yoga is an open profession. That means you can call yourself a yoga teacher, regardless of your education and experience. There aren’t therefore any legal requirements for teaching yoga. This being said, of course you should make sure to follow a well-designed education!
To uphold certain standards, some organizations have emerged to make sure yoga teaching in their country is more regulated in terms of safety and ethics. Think of international organizations such as the International Yoga Federation or Yoga Alliance USA, as well as national or more local organizations such as Yoga Alliance UK or the Dutch yoga alliance (Vereniging Yogadocenten Nederland, VYN).
Yoga Alliance US is the biggest and most well-known organization, and also the oldest. Most local alliances are themselves registered with Yoga Alliance USA, and/or accept certificates accredited by YA USA. Most local alliances maintain the same standards as the YA USA, but there are also some yoga alliances that have different standards in, for example, the amount of education required to become a member. Some organizations, have a criterion of at least 200 hours of yoga teacher training, whereas others require a minimum of 500 hours or more. Some yoga alliances require a study period of at least a couple of years.
All alliances are private and set their own standards. They are not connected to any government organization. Their is no clear world-wide consensus. And the various alliances seem to chose the standards according to different sets of ideas and motivations. Even though most alliances claim to be motivated only by ensuring standards in the yoga teaching market place, with a closer look you will most certainly find ulterior motives. Registering hundreds or even thousands of yoga teachers and yoga teacher training schools on a yearly basis is a very good business, so monetary rewards can not be ignored. And looking at the founders of such an organization you might find interesting co-relations between them and the schools they accredit.
Most alliances do not only have criteria for registered yoga teachers, they also have a set of requirements for the quality of yoga teacher trainings. A yoga school can be registered at the alliance’s directory, if they meet these requirements. You can look it up at the website of the alliance and usually the yoga school will list the organizations where it is registered as well.
Additional reading: How to find the best yoga teacher training for you
Although the efforts of yoga alliances to ensure the quality of yoga teaching make sense, it is always wise to look at the pros and cons of becoming a member. Being a registered yoga teacher, on the one hand, might demonstrate your reliability and professionalism to your students. On the other hand, it is only quite recent that these alliances have emerged, which means that many experienced and renowned yoga teachers aren’t registered at such an alliance. It is not compulsory to register, so you can still make your own decision based on the information you have. Mostly if your teacher training school is registered with any of major yoga alliances, your certificate would carry the registration logos. So actually you don’t need to register individually, just display your certificate at your studio.
Additional reading: Do Yoga Instructors Really Need to Join Yoga Alliance – Published on yogiapproved.com
As a yoga teacher, it is most likely that you will work as a freelancer or an entrepreneur. The rules for insurance might be different in each country, and it is not an easy task to get an overview in the regulations. One thing that is very important to consider, is liability insurance. Some reasons to get an insurance for yoga teachers are:
Some alliances for yoga teachers offer the possibility to join a collective liability insurance, which might be one reason to become a member. However, you can also choose to get your own (business) liability insurance, independent of any yoga alliance (which might be more money-wise in the long run).
Tips for getting your insurance:
Apart from looking at the amount of training you begin with and quality controls, have a look at the content of your yoga teacher training. What topics are covered? How much time is spent on teaching skills, yoga techniques, philosophy and ethics? What do the testimonials and reviews say? Which aspects do you think, from your own standards and a yogic mindset, are important to learn? How will this help you to provide safe and sound yoga classes?
Think about your first yoga teacher training as a stepping stone in which you will dive deeper into what yoga means. When you develop further, both in your own practice and in teaching, you will build upon the knowledge and experience gained at your TTC and continue to improve the quality of your classes.
And, continuing education after your first training is not only always possible, but also highly recommended. Many schools offer advanced studies for yoga teachers, in a variety of fields, such as:
Such continued education programs will help you to stay inspired and to keep growing in your profession. Regarding certification at yoga alliances, these usually have a requirement of at least 30 hours of continuing education each year to maintain your registration. Again, you can ask yourself the question: what do I think is necessary to be a good yoga teacher?
To summarize, all the certifications, quality controls and yoga alliances are meant to make sure that you meet certain standards, which theoretically should assure that you will be a good yoga teacher. But just as there are bad doctors, even after years of studying, these certifications and registrations do not really define your quality as a teacher. Keep in mind that many of the most famous and most influential teachers like David Swenson and Paul Grilley (founder of Yin Yoga) aren’t connected to any yoga association. They are recognized by their students for the immense amount of dedication, knowledge and experience they bring to their classes.
A teacher training course, no matter how long it took you to complete, is the first step to start teaching. Through your experience in teaching, you will be able to apply the knowledge and skills and grow in your profession. In the end, your students, coming back to your class week by week, will be your best feedback on the quality of your work. You can keep improving the quality of your classes if you keep learning, studying and practicing.
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 3000 yoga teachers worldwide.