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A Simple Guide to Yoga Certification Titles & How to Earn Them

March 15, 2024

Last updated : March 15, 2024

As yoga practitioners, we’ve all come across the abbreviations CYT, RYT, and E-RYT while researching teachers or new yoga courses. Your first guess might have been some tricky modern style of yoga or an ancient concept in Sanskrit. But unlike the hundreds of yoga terms you’ll learn, these words have nothing to do with poses or philosophies.

The abbreviations CYT, E-RYT, and RYT, to name a few, are actually titles given to yoga teachers to indicate their level of training and experience. Whether searching for an experienced yoga instructor or wanting to take the next step in your professional practice, these certification titles are essential for navigating the world of yoga training. 

Keep reading to discover the meanings of common yoga designations and what it takes to earn each of these titles.

What Are Yoga Certification Titles?

Yoga certification titles are a set of standardized titles used to recognize the level of education and experience a yoga teacher has. The titles we see and hear the most in yoga were developed by the Yoga Alliance—the world's largest nonprofit yoga organization.

With no international law to regulate the teaching of yoga, a group of American teachers and practitioners founded the Yoga Alliance in 1999. Their mission was simple: develop a national standard for the training of yoga teachers. Over the years, the group has helped set important standards for yoga training that hundreds of schools follow worldwide. They also established designations, or yoga certification titles, to universally recognize teachers and schools who meet these standards.

Some of the most common yoga certification titles we see today include:

  • CYT (Certified Yoga Teacher)
  • RYS (Registered Yoga School)
  • RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher)
  • E-RYT (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher)

While not mandatory, there are many benefits of registering your certification level and experience with an organization like the Yoga Alliance. It shows others your expertise while also opening doors and sparking valuable connections within the broader yoga community. If you plan on working at a reputable yoga studio or gym, it might also be a requirement.

Yoga Teacher Certification Titles Explained

Yoga Teacher Certification Titles Meaning & Differences Explained


CYT stands for Certified Yoga Teacher and is the entry level certification given to yoga teachers. To earn this title, teachers need to have completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training (YTT) at a yoga school, not necessarily registered with the Yoga Alliance.

Although yoga teacher training courses do not need to be affiliated with the Yoga Alliance, 200 YTT curriculums should still cover the core fundamentals of yoga. This includes:

Once completed, teachers typically use the title CYT or CYT 200 to show that they are qualified under the 200-hour level. It's important to note that although the requirement for CYT and RYT 200 is 200 hours of training, not everyone who completes this foundational course can use the title RYT 200. Keep reading to find out why. 

Find out: How to Choose the Best Yoga Teacher Training for You


A female yoga student completes a RYS 200 at Arhanta Yoga Ashrams to become a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) at the 200 level

RYT means Registered Yoga Teacher. This title is given to yoga teachers who have completed a teacher training program with a RYS (Registered Yoga School), which simply means that it meets the Yoga Alliance Standards

The Yoga Alliance has two main RYT levels: RYT 200 and RYT 500. To make this easier to understand, remember that:

  • “R” means that the teacher is qualified according to the Yoga Alliance standards,
  • “YT” stands for yoga teacher, and
  • the numbers that follow (200 or 500) are the total amount of training hours the teacher has completed.

RYT 200

RYT 200 is an entry-level yoga teacher certification and is usually the most common title seen in the yoga teacher community. To earn RYT 200 status, you must have completed a 200-hour teacher training program with a Yoga Alliance-registered school (RYS).

A 200-hour yoga teacher course should properly prepare students to teach yoga safely and professionally. To ensure this, a RYS 200 curriculum must incorporate training from Yoga Alliance’s five Educational Categories:

  • Techniques, training, and practice
  • Teaching methodology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Yoga philosophy, lifestyle, and ethics for yoga teachers
  • Practicum (practical teaching skills)

Registered Yoga Schools must curate their programs around Yoga Alliance’s 200-hour standards. For example, at Arhanta Yoga Ashrams, our 200-hour YTT curriculum includes theory and practical lessons that cover instruction and correction techniques, breathing exercises, asana practice, Vedic philosophy, and yogic lifestyle.

After completing the 200-hour training, teachers can then apply to become a Registered Yoga Teacher at the 200-hour level (RYT 200) with the Yoga Alliance.

RYT 500

RYT 500 is one of the highest yoga certification levels recognized by the Yoga Alliance. When a teacher has RYT 500 in their title, it means that they have reached level 2 in their yoga training after completing a total of 500 hours in Yoga Alliance-approved programs.

Certification requirements for an RYT 500 includes:

The 500-hour training requirement is essentially a combination of a 200-hour and 300-hour teacher training course. Teachers can do these separately or complete them together in a 500-hour YTT.

The 300-hour training is an advanced course designed to build on the foundational 200-hour course. It follows the same Educational Categories outlined earlier and studies are divided into contact and no contact hours, covering:

  • Advanced asana practice
  • Multi-style yoga teaching
  • Pranayama
  • Philosophy
  • Yoga anatomy and physiology
  • Advanced yoga teaching
  • Meditation

So, what about the RYT 300 designation? The truth is, it doesn't actually exist. The 300-hour training is for those who've already completed their 200 hours. This means that when they finish, they've technically accumulated a total of 500 training hours, automatically upgrading their level to RYT 500.

Achieving RYT 500 status is a huge milestone for any yoga practitioner. By completing both the 200-hour and 300-hour yoga courses, you truly deepen your understanding of yoga and gain the skills and knowledge to start helping others on their personal paths.


Aspiring yoga teachers practice Tree Pose at a 500-hour YTT at Arhanta Yoga, earning the RYT 500 yoga certification title

Meaning Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher, E-RYT is the yoga certification title given to instructors who have completed their teacher training course with a significant amount of teaching experience. Like RYT, there are two kinds or designations given to experienced teachers.

E-RYT 200      

An E-RYT 200 is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher who has completed a Yoga-Alliance approved 200-hour yoga teacher training program and taught 1,000 hours since completing that training.

To earn this yoga certification title, a teacher needs to have a:

  • 200-hour teacher training with a RYS 200
  • Minimum of 1,000 hours of teaching experience since finishing training with a RYS 200
  • Minimum of two years teaching experience since completing training with a RYS 200

There are many benefits of registering as an E-RYT 200. As one of the highest yoga teacher certifications, it qualifies you to provide continuing education workshops to RYTs and even lead 200-hour teacher trainings for a RYS 200.

E-RYT 500

An E-RYT 500 is the fourth and the highest level of yoga teacher. This title is given to highly skilled and experienced yoga teachers who have completed 500 hours of advanced yoga training with at least four years of teaching experience (2,000 hours).

To be registered as an E-RYT 500, you’ll need to complete a:

  • 500-hour teacher training from a RYS 500, OR a 200-hour training with a RYS 200 PLUS a 300-hour training with a RYS 300
  • 2,000 teaching hours post-training, with at least 500 hours after your 300- or 500-hour teacher training
  • Minimum of four years teaching since completing your initial RYS 200 or RYS 500 training

Teachers who are certified as E-RYT 500 instructors are seen as experts, qualified to lead 200-hour, 300-hour, and 500-hour teacher training programs. For this reason, they need to have extensive knowledge of yoga philosophy, anatomy, and advanced teaching methods with years of experience behind them. Yoga teachers who reach this level are also qualified to lead continuing education workshops for other RYTs.


Meaning Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider, YACEP is a designation given to experienced yoga teachers who are qualified to teach courses or programs that count towards Continuing Education Units (CEU).

While these shorter courses range between 50 and 100 hours, they are designed to offer in-depth training into specific yoga styles like Vinyasa, Yin, or even Fascia Yoga. As a YACEP, you can help new teachers build a strong foundation in yoga and find their niche, whether that’s teaching Prenatal Yoga or Pranayama.

To qualify for the YACEP designation, you first need to be registered as an E-RYT with the Yoga Alliance.

Also Read: 50-, 100- & 200-Hour Yoga Certification Courses? Differences Explained


A Prenatal Yoga Teacher demonstrates adjusting a pregnant student in a prenatal yoga teacher training at Arhanta Yoga Ashrams in Milan

RPYT means Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher; a title given to Registered Yoga Teachers who have completed a Yoga Alliance-approved Prenatal Yoga training. This special qualification equips teachers with the skills and knowledge to safely guide pregnant women during their pregnancy, labor, and postpartum recovery.

Teachers can register as a RPYT if they have successfully completed:

  • A 200-hour yoga teacher training AND an 85-hour Prenatal Yoga training registered with Yoga Alliance
  • 30 teaching hours in Prenatal Yoga after completing a training with a RPYS (Registered Prenatal Yoga School)

This is the next step for any yoga teacher passionate about helping new moms through their pregnancy with yoga. With the RPYT yoga designation, teachers can provide empowering Prenatal Yoga classes worldwide, preparing students for childbirth and beyond.


Lastly, RCYT is a Registered Children's Yoga Teacher. This is the highest designation for children's yoga teachers and recognizes practitioners as qualified professionals skilled in teaching yoga to young students. 

Through Kids and Teen Teacher Trainings, RCYTs gain the skills and experience to teach various Kids Yoga poses and practices in a fun and engaging way. More importantly, they understand how to tailor practices to support the physical, mental, and emotional development of growing children.

Teachers can register as a RCYT if they have completed:

  • A 200-hour teacher training with a RYS 200
  • A 95-hour teacher training with a Registered Children’s Yoga School (RCYS)
  • 30 teaching hours in Children’s Yoga since completing training with a RCYS

Take the Next Step in Your Yoga Training 

Certified RYT (registered Yoga Teachers) celebrate after completing their Yoga-alliance approved teacher training course with Arhanta Yoga

I always tell my students that there is much more to becoming a yoga teacher than a title. The path of a yoga teacher is incredibly rewarding, offering the chance to profoundly impact people's lives. However, this doesn’t mean that yoga teacher titles aren't valuable in your journey.

Whether you’ve just started teaching or are taking the next step as a yoga business owner, these yoga teacher certification titles demonstrate to the world the dedication you’ve committed to your practice and the contributions you can make to the yoga community. So, I encourage you to embrace these titles as milestones of your hard work and growth, and as tools that can help open doors to new opportunities.

About the author

Ram Jain

Born into a Jain family where yoga has been the way of life for five generations, my formal yoga journey began at age of eight at a Vedic school in India. There I received a solid foundation in ancient scriptures, including Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and Yoga Sutras (to name a few).

In 2009, I founded Arhanta Yoga Ashrams. I see yoga as a way to master the five senses, so I named our ashrams 'Arhanta Yoga,' the yoga to master the five senses!

In 2017, I also founded Arhanta Yoga Online Academy so that people who can not visit our ashrams can follow our courses remotely.

At Arhanta, we don't just teach yoga. We teach you how to reach your potential, deepen your knowledge, build your confidence, and take charge of your life.

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