For some it can take several years, while others may begin teaching within a year or two of practicing.
While everyone’s process is different, there are some basic steps that all yoga teachers follow.
This article will cover the entire process from beginning to end.
The Steps You Need to Take to Become a Yoga Teacher
Step One: Practice Yoga
It may seem obvious, but the first step to becoming a yoga teacher is to practice yoga. Some people come to the practice to get relief from injuries or pain, others begin a yoga practice as a form of exercise, and others try out yoga for help with stress & anxiety.
Yoga teachers absolutely must be students before they can be ready to share the practice & guide others on the mat.
This is a discovery stage where you’re learning about the practice, the philosophy, your own body - it’s like the honeymoon stage where you’re beginning to fall in love with yoga! Without developing that love, and without enough time enjoying the practice as a student, you won’t be ready - or interested for that matter - to teach.
This stage is ongoing.
Yoga teachers must be students & practitioners first & foremost for the entire duration of their teaching career.
What if you get injured? There are endless ways to practice yoga that don’t involve the body or asana at all. If you’re healing from an injury, there’s still so much to learn from the practice through meditation, pranayama, studying yogic texts, and more.
This step has no set time commitment.
A minimum of one year of regular practice is recommended, but many teachers practice yoga for years or even decades before they decide to invest time, energy, & finances into becoming a yoga teacher.
Step Two: Find the Right Yoga Teacher Training
There are many different styles of yoga; from Restorative Yoga, to Kundalini, to Ashtanga, to Vinyasa, to Buti Yoga….the list is endless.
For every style of yoga that exists, there are countless teachers, trainings, and sub-styles out there.
It’s important to do your research & find the perfect yoga teacher training for you.
Some things to consider while researching the right training for you are:
Some yoga teacher training programs are spread out over the course of several months or even years, while others are immersion or intensive style where you attend the training every day for about one month.
Decide what kind of time commitment you’re able to fit into your life.
Consider your learning style. Are you able to digest 200 hours worth of content into one month? Or would you learn better with time to integrate between lessons?
While training in India or Bali may feel like the ideal for you, you may also be able to find a quality training right where you live - or even online!
Look into several different yoga schools before committing to the first training you see.
A training in an idyllic location like Costa Rica may seem like the perfect getaway, but check out reviews of the yoga school or lead teacher to make sure it’s the right training for you.
Depending on what you’d like your focus to be; for example, working with primarily women, or athletes, or kids and teens, or those with injuries; you’ll need to consider the content you’ll be learning in your 200 Hour yoga teacher training.
If you’d like to work with people healing from injuries or chronic pain, you’ll want to find a training that focuses on anatomy and biomechanics, as well as using yoga as injury prevention and as a tool for healing.
On the other hand, if you know you’d like to work with women in underserved communities, you may want to look into trainings that teach trauma-informed yoga.
There are even programs that teach you to use eating disorder sensitive language.
Some trainings allot more time to yogic philosophy, and these would be great for those looking to teach yoga in a more spiritual and less asana focused way.
Most trainings are transparent about the curriculum they’ll be teaching. You can also reach out to lead teachers to ask questions to ensure you’ll be learning the right information based on who you’d like to serve.
Accessibility & Diversity
Is the training you’re looking into diverse? Are people of color, people of different body shapes & sizes, and people with different mobility represented in the yoga teacher training?
Do you only see one type of yogi represented in the training’s marketing and social media? If these things matter to you, be sure to look into it.
Some training programs may spend time teaching things like chair yoga, and modifications and variations for differently sized or differently able bodies.
But this isn’t necessarily true of all trainings. If you know you’d like to serve people of all shapes, sizes, and ability levels, consider looking for trainings that will teach you how to work with these communities.
Taking a yoga teacher training is an investment of both time and money. It’s important to be realistic about how much you’re willing and able to spend.
Most trainings cost between $2,000 - $5,000.
If you choose a training program in another country, add in the cost of travel, accommodations if they aren’t included, meals, and anything else you may need.
Give yourself a few days or even months to research & plan for the yoga teacher training that will satisfy your needs & prepare you to teach.
Step Three: Get Certified to Teach
A 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training is all you technically need to teach yoga.
Depending on the program you choose, it could take anywhere from one month if you chose an immersion style training, to several years if you chose a training that is more spaced out.
Between one month to two years.
Step Four: Prepare to Teach
There’s a few important steps you’ll need to take before you can safely step into the role of the teacher. You’ll need to protect yourself before you can actually begin teaching, this is just the reality of the world we live in.
A few steps that are absolutely necessary are:
- Create liability waivers
- Get insurance
Liability waivers are one way to protect yourself from lawsuits, but insurance is truly necessary.
All the right education, preparation, and the best intentions won’t be enough to protect you from a mistake or even a perceived mistake. Yoga teachers never set out to harm their students, that would go against the very first yama, ahimsa.
It’s necessary to prepare & protect yourself in the event of an accident.
For example, you could work with a student who hasn’t disclosed their injuries and wind up doing something that worsened their injuries, or you could work with a student who didn’t know about an injury until it flared up after a practice. You could be held liable if you didn’t have them sign a waiver in advance.
Other ways to prepare to teach are creating an LLC, or limited liability company.
This step could easily be completed over the course of a few hours.
Step Five: Practice Teach
After you’ve received your 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training certificate, it’s time to practice teach!
After my first 200 Hour Training, I was advised to teach at least ten community classes. These can be classes taught to friends or family, or simply classes that you do not charge money for.
While you may have ample practice teaching opportunities in your teacher training program, it’s still important to integrate & practice your teaching skills before you audition at studios or begin teaching private yoga sessions.
The first class is always the hardest.
You may get nervous & talk so fast that you run through a sequence intended for an hour long class in only 30 minutes.
Or you could run out of time well before you reach the end of your sequence.
After a few classes, pacing will begin to feel more natural & you’ll be able to sequence the right amount of poses for the time allotted to your class.
These practice teaching hours will help you get all the kinks out so that by the time you’re ready to charge for classes, you’ll feel (at least somewhat) at ease at the front of the class.
*** Don’t forget to get reviews & testimonials as you teach these free classes! You’ll need them for your website, social media, and to build credibility for your new yoga teaching career!
Give yourself about one month to practice.
Teach a few group classes or one on one classes each week. There’s no such thing as “perfect” - after about ten practice classes you should be ready to charge for your classes. Give yourself grace if you trip over a few rights and lefts or if you run a few minutes over.
Step Six: TEACH!
Now you’re ready to start teaching and charging for your classes!
If you’d like to teach in studios, it’s time to set up some auditions. If you’d like to teach one on one, it’s time to look for students!
This is a good time to set up your business on social media, maybe invest in a website, and share all of those reviews & testimonials!
Every step of this journey from the beginning of your yoga practice, to the moment you teach your first paid class will shape you & help you to grow into the best teacher you can be.
Those that are motivated to start teaching fast may become yoga teachers in under two years of practice.
Others may take their time, enjoy the practice as a student for years, then once they feel pulled to enroll in a training can easily get certified and start teaching within months of that decision to teach.