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What Is a Yoga Alliance Certification?

by Alberto G. Güitrón

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Yoga Alliance is a nonprofit organization representing a big part of the yoga community in the world. It’s based in the United States and it has about 60,000 yoga teachers and 4,000 registered yoga schools.

This organization determines certain standards for yoga professionals and yoga teacher training programs to ensure that they’re of good quality. The instructors and schools that meet these standards can voluntarily register to Yoga Alliance to get an internationally recognized certification.

Having a certification with Yoga Alliance allows you to teach in most parts of the world. But it also offers some special benefits for its members, such as discounts for continuous education, liability insurance, legal services, online workshops, and yoga apparel, just to mention few.  

A short history of Yoga Alliance

yoga teacher training

Image credit: Parahita Alam Bali 

It’s the nineties, an ancient Indian practice is quickly spreading around the western world (particularly in the United States). Numerous schools and teachers emerge every day, but there’s nobody who can assure that this practice called yoga is being taught in a safe way.

So, around May 1997, several practitioners voluntarily start to write some guidelines for yoga teachers and schools. Later on, a group of yogis from different lineages and traditions organize two groups to set the standards, one is called Ad Hoc Yoga Alliance and the other Unity in Yoga. A couple of years later, in January 1999, members of both groups hold a meeting where Unity in Yoga offers to roll its 10-year-old charity over to Ad Hoc Yoga Alliance; hence, the Yoga Alliance is created.

Yoga Alliance doesn’t give teacher training courses itself, but it has a large list of teachers, schools and international continuing education providers, all endorsed by them.

While Yoga Alliance is one of the most recognized associations in the world related to yoga, it isn’t the only international organization that exists. Along with it, the International Yoga Federation (IYF) is also quite popular around the world.

It’s possible to find organizations that include the words “Yoga Alliance” in their names. However, they aren’t the same as Yoga Alliance or Yoga Alliance Registry; they’re normally regional associations which are not affiliated to the original one.

>>READ MORE: What to expect from your yoga teacher training?

Types of Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT)

yoga teacher training

Image credit: Bali Yoga School

Yoga Alliance offers several certifications. The most popular one might be the 200-Hour RYT, but there are also programs of continuing education and special certifications for experienced teachers. Here’s what you can do with them:

200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training

Considered the first step to becoming a yoga instructor, on a 200-hour course you’ll get a broad introduction to yoga. You’ll dedicate a long time to refining your technique through guided repetition and analytical training.

The aim of this course is to help you understand the benefits and purpose of each pose. You’ll also learn how to structure your own classes and add Pranayama and meditation techniques to your practice.

By reading the Sutras and other relevant texts, you’ll discover the philosophy behind the practice. You’ll also study the ethical part of being a yoga teacher and the responsibility a yoga instructor has towards the students and the community.

The program includes a module about anatomy and physiology where you’ll learn about the functioning of the body systems, the mechanics of the asanas and how to apply this information in a way that maximizes the benefits of the practice.

In addition, you’ll work on finding your own style, learning how to guide a group of students, as well as the business aspects of being a yoga instructor. And before you finish the course, you’ll get to practice being the instructor of a class and help other classmates in the process.

>>READ MORE: How many hours to choose for your yoga teacher training (200, 300, 500, or something else?)

500-Hour Yoga Teacher Training

A 500-hour is the most complete course you can take as a yoga instructor. Once you have a 200 RYT certification and have completed 100 hours of teaching, you can do a 300-hour teacher training to complete the 500 hours. During this course, you’ll learn more in-depth about the technique, philosophy, anatomy and teaching methodology of yoga (as you already did on the 200-hour course) but more thoroughly.

While this is the most common path to becoming an RYT 500, there are also programs where you can do all 500 hours at once. It will be way longer and challenging though.

Other certifications

Yoga Alliance also offers other certifications such as children’s yoga teacher (RCYT) or prenatal yoga teacher (RPYT). They are good options for instructors who want to specialize in these specific areas. Besides, Yoga Alliance gives certifications for experienced teachers (E-RYT), which allows the instructor to train new aspiring teachers.

To get certified as an E-RYT 200, you need to have a minimum of 1,000 hours of teaching experience; and for an E-RYT 500, you’ll need at least 2000 hours of teaching.

What are my options to do a yoga teacher training?

yoga teacher trianing

Image credit: Yogaji

There are three different paths to become a yoga teacher. One is to look for a registered school in your hometown and attend all the classes required by the program. This could take up to 12 months to complete.

Perhaps the most comprehensive option is to go on a retreat where you’ll practice intensively for about 3-4 consecutive weeks. You get to meet fellow yogis, have direct interaction with your instructors and get a chance to learn many things beyond the mat.

And there’s one last option that’s very convenient as well. For a limited time, you can join an online yoga teacher training and become an instructor from the comfort of your own home. This will save you plenty of money and time, and it’s the perfect choice for those with a busy schedule. 

That said, for OYTTs, note that you’re able to become eligible for a Yoga Alliance certification only if you complete your course by September 30, 2020.

An online program can either be a self-paced training or a full-time course. For the self-paced training, you’ll only need to set aside a special time during the day for the practice itself. It normally lets you complete it in up to 12 months. On the other hand, a full-time online teacher training requires that you fully commit to the course calendar of about 3 to 4 weeks, but it gives you the opportunity to have live sessions with other classmates.

>>READ MORE: What type of online yoga teacher training is best for you?

How does a yoga teacher training look like?

yoga teacher training

Image credit: Yoga Union

Whether you opt for a 200-hour or a 300-hour course, the standards to get a Yoga Alliance certificate are divided into 5 main areas:

  •       Techniques, training and practice
  •       Teaching methodology
  •       Anatomy and physiology
  •       Yoga philosophy, lifestyle and ethics
  •       Practicum

This is an example of how your schedule looks like if you decide to do it full time, whether it is face-to-face or online:

  •       06:00 Meditation and pranayama
  •       07:00 Yoga practice
  •       09:00 Break
  •       10:00 Philosophy and anatomy class
  •       11:30 Asanas, methodology and teaching practice
  •       13:00 Break
  •       16:00 Workshops
  •       17:30 Yoga practice
  •       19:00 Meditation and pranayama

Note that this is just an example of how your schedule might look like. Each program is different. Please contact the instructors of the yoga teacher training of your preference for more information and details.

Want to truly take the plunge and become a 500 RYT right away? Join a 500-hour yoga teacher training!

*Cover image credit: Green Yoga International 


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