Now is a great time to join the health and fitness industry as the number of yoga teachers working in this field is expected to increase 10 percent by the year 2026 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is a rate deemed “faster than average” since the typical growth across all occupations in the U.S. is only around seven percent combined.
Some of these yoga teachers teach students about a specific type of group or individual aerobic exercise, whereas others provide instruction related to safe and effective strength training routines. Yet, several other fitness instruction avenues exist, and one that has been increasing in interest among fitness patrons across the nation in recent years is yoga.
Case in point: the 2016 Yoga in America Study found that the number of people in the U.S. practicing yoga increased from 20.4 million to 36 million in just four years’ time. Additionally, three out of four Americans in the study said that they agree with the statement that “yoga is good for you.”
Based on numbers like these, you may be considering becoming a yoga teacher in this particular health and fitness niche and capitalizing on this growing fitness trend.
But what does a yoga teacher do? And how do you become a yoga teacher?
Whether you're looking to find a great yoga teacher or you're looking to become a yoga teacher, there are certain qualities you'll need to succeed.
This is important for many reasons—the biggest being safety. The last thing you want is for you or one of your students to get injured in a yoga class.
To adjust students properly, the teacher should have knowledge of proper alignment. This knowledge base allows the instructor to spot poor alignment and make adjustments. Repetitive, poorly-aligned movements can cause long-term damage to yogis.
Teachers should offer hands-on adjustments to ensure their students are practicing with proper alignment. Some schools of yoga use adjustments to bring you deeper into a pose, which is acceptable if done safely.
While this is important for any class, it's especially crucial if you're attending or teaching an open-level session. People have varying levels of experience, and certain poses will need to be modified.
The role of the yoga teacher—sometimes referred to as a yogi or yogini—is twofold. The instructor’s first responsibility is to teach students how to safely and effectively perform yoga’s poses and breathing patterns so they can increase their flexibility, build up their physical strength, and balance their body and mind, thus improving their overall health and wellness.
The secondary obligation of a yoga teacher is to help students take what they’ve learned in class or via private instruction and find a way to incorporate it into their regular daily schedules so they enjoy all of the benefits yoga has to offer.
The American Osteopathic Association indicates that these include feeling more energetic, enjoying reduced stress levels, and having an easier time concentrating. Additionally, there are many styles or types of yoga that can be taught by yoga teachers. A few of the most common include:
Taking a yoga teacher training course is the first step to learning more about techniques such as these, as well as how to effectively teach them to students.
In a yoga teacher training (YTT) program, future yoga teachers are exposed to a mixture of philosophies and practices relevant to the yoga methodology.
Though each school is somewhat different in the actual classes it teaches, the courses offered by most typically include instruction about topics such as:
Some of these classes—like theory, anatomy, and physiology— are instruction-based, thus they are typically held in a classroom type setting. Others, such as techniques and poses, are more physical in nature and require hands-on learning that is best taught in a studio or gym. By now, you may be wondering if schooling and the certification it offers is a must to be able to teach yoga. Let’s delve into that now.
The Yoga Teacher Resource states that certification and licensing are not required to teach this particular physical and mental practice. However, some studios do mandate that their instructors complete a formal YTT program. The 2016 Yoga in America Study confirms this as it found that approximately 91 percent of yoga studio owners feel that training credentials are important when hiring instructors. Additionally, almost all (99 percent) stated that yoga instructors should always be learning.
Continuing education (CE) hours are also required to retain your yoga teacher designation. These requirements must be met every three years and include the completion of 45 teaching hours plus engaging in 30 training hours. These training hours must be split as follows:
If you’re interested in teaching yoga, you may be wondering how long you will have to train before being able to instruct your own students. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Generally speaking, your training and instruction requirements will either be 200 or 500 hours, depending on the program you select. Obviously, the more hours required to earn your desired designation, the longer it will take to accumulate them.
Another factor impacting how long it takes to become a yoga instructor is whether you choose to engage in yoga teacher training full or part time. In the case of the former, you would likely be able to complete your required hours within a few weeks or months. However, if you elect to go part time with your studies, it could take you a couple of years to complete your requirements. Each school also has its own schedule, so the time of year you are able to begin taking your classes will depend on when they are offered in your school of choice. How much will your schooling cost?
Since there are numerous YTT programs from which to choose, it’s important to do some research up front to determine which one is the best yoga teacher training program for you. This requires assessing each one on factors such as:
Compare each one on points such as these to better determine which program fits you best.
Now that you know what it takes to become a yoga teacher, you likely feel excited and ready to get started. However, before you take that next step, ask yourself these five questions:
If you answered yes to all of these questions, then you’re ready to become a yoga teacher! But there’s one more thing to consider before you do.
You can be the best teacher in the world, but if someone is injured while taking your instruction, you could easily find yourself named as a defendant in a lawsuit. Therefore, as an upcoming yoga teacher, it is extremely important to protect yourself both personally and professionally before you even secure your very first student.
The way to do this is by purchasing liability insurance. Under this type of policy, you’re provided certain financial protections, such as those related to court costs (attorney fees and filing fees, for instance), court ordered payouts, and more.
You’ve worked too hard to become a top notch instructor to potentially give all of your assets away. Instead, get yoga insurance as soon as you can, that way you can have an even greater peace of mind than yoga itself offers.
Yoga teacher training is the basis and foundation for an abundance of knowledge you can apply and use as a yoga teacher, both for your own practice and for life.
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