How to Become a Yoga Instructor: Job Description, Salary & Training


Get ready, get set because it’s time to do some yoga and sweat! Today we are going to talk all about how to become a yoga instructor because it’s a really cool and fun profession to have. So pull up a yoga mat and get into your favorite flexible position!

How to Become a Yoga Instructor

We are excited to hear that you are considering becoming a yoga instructor and maybe a little envious too because we happen to love yoga here at LearnU! The journey to becoming an instructor will be filled with much sweat and some sore muscles, but in the end it will be totally worth it.

Step 1: Learn Yoga

The very first thing you will want to do on your journey to become a yoga instructor is to learn yoga. It’s a really good idea to take a decent amount of classes in varying yoga styles. Some of the different styles of yoga are: Ashtanga, Anusara, Hatha, Vinyasa and Bikram.

Do keep in mind that the style and type of instruction with vary by the teacher and facility that you attend. If you are hoping to be an instructor try to pay close attention to the differences because it can help you during your own teacher training course.

We also want to present the idea of possibly finding a mentor for yourself. This will give you a bit more personal one on one training and they can also help you to decide which avenue of becoming a yoga instructor is best for you.

Step 2: Complete a Teacher Training Course

This is the most important step to becoming a yoga instructor because without it you can’t legally practice without leaving yourself open to a potential legal issue. You can enroll in a hands on training course that can be 200, 300 or 500 hours. No matter which course you decide to do you will cover the same required topics with only the hourly requirements varying. You will learn oodles about anatomy and physiology, instructional techniques and yoga philosophy.

Step 3: Get Registered

Once your teaching training course is completed you will be ready to apply to become a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) through Yoga Alliance. You don’t absolutely have to do this, but many employers and clients prefer it, so you might as well go for it.

Step 4: Earn Continuing Education Credits

There are many other very helpful workshops and seminars that you can be a part of to grow your knowledge base. You will also be required to complete 75 hours of continuing education every 3 years if you are registered with Yoga Alliance.

Job Requirements of a Yoga Instructor

Now that’s we’ve told you how to become a yoga instructor, how’s about we tell you what some of the job requirements are?

For starters, you will need to complete a specialized yoga instructor training program. These teacher training programs can last for a few weeks or over two years. The beginning training course is based on a 200 hour standard (we will expand upon this a bit later). The duration of your training will depend on your preferred style of yoga and how rigorous your instructor wants your course work to be. The teacher training is very physically demanding, so be prepared to feel the burn.

As we will discuss in greater depth, the 200 hour teacher training path that is offered by the Yoga Alliance. This program will allow you to become a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) as well. You can expect to study traditional yoga techniques, teaching methods, anatomy and physiology and yoga philosophy and history.

It is also common for yoga instructors to have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a health or fitness field to expand upon your knowledge base. Strong speaking and communication skills will be very helpful along with the ability to motivate your students when they are trying to get into the most difficult of positions. Having a CPR certification can’t hurt either.

Being a yoga instructor is a career of passion and not for just anyone. Many yogis view yoga as much more than just a way to stay physically fit and flexible. The yoga life is something that you may want to also have a passion for so that you can practice what you are teaching your students. Now we are certainly not saying that you can’t enjoy you wine and chocolate though!

How to Become a Yoga Instructor Online

You can definitely follow this certification path, but if we are being totally transparent here…just don’t. We know that sounds a bit harsh, but we totally have our reasons for steering you clear of online yoga training. So, let us explain ourselves…

Sure it sounds fantastic to train online in the comfort of your own home and for a lesser cost than a more traditional style of yoga instructor training. Here is a little granola for thought though: how do you really know if you are in the correct form for the poses? What happens if you are posed incorrectly and when your first class as an instructor comes along, where you position someone incorrectly and they get hurt as a result. No Bueno, right? Right! So, spare yourself the headache and just skip the online training all together. Go for the gusto and opt for the hands on route.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Yoga Instructor and What are My Training Course Options?

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Very good question from our yogis to be! You will have a few training course options to choose from actually and each will vary in duration. You’ll be able to select from a 200 hour, 300 hour or 500 hour training course. There are also sub-standard classes that you can register for that will expand upon your knowledge base.

Yoga Instructor Salary

You’ll need to be able to shell out some duckets on all the coconut water and yoga mats that you’ll want to buy, so let’s talk about numbers. How much does a yoga instructor actually make these days? Well sit down for a stretch while we fill you in on the details.

The helpful folks at the Bureau of Labor Statistics are reporting that fitness trainers, which you most certainly will be classified as, are earning a median annual salary of $31,720 as of May 2012. The lowest 10% of trainers are reported to earn $17,630 and the top 10% are earning $66,530 a year. There will be those trainers that make a bit more or less depending on the area that they are employed, their training background and if they are private trainers not employed through a studio.

Different Types of Yoga

Once you have decided that you’d like to become a yoga instructor, you’ll want to decide what specific type of yoga you’d like to teach. Go ahead and go into Lotus Pose and read about your options.

Anusara

Anusara yoga was developed in 1997 by American yogi John Friend. This relatively new type of yoga is based upon the thought that we are each filled with an innate goodness and anusara is used to allow students to open their hearts, experience grace and to let their internal goodness come through. The classes for anusara yoga are sequenced differently from teacher to teacher and are pretty rigorous on the mind and body.

Ashtanga

Ashtanga yoga is one of the oldest forms of yoga. It is based upon ancient teachings and was brought into the mainstream in the 1970’s by yogi Pattabhi Jois (pronounced pah-tah-bee joyce). This is a very rigorous form of yoga that requires students to follow a very specific sequence of poses that are similar to vinyasa yoga (we will go over vinyasa in this section as well). Ashtanga has its students follow each movement in coordination of your breathing to get the most out of each pose. This is not a yoga style for the wimpy and will surely leave you drenched in sweat.

Bikram

Bikram yoga was developed roughly 30 years ago by Bikram Choudhury. This style of yoga is set in heated rooms that are typically about 90 to 100 degrees. These classes will make you sweat a ton while going through a series of 26 poses (similar to ashtanga). Make sure that you are at a studio that truly practices Bikram because Choudhury has trademarked his sequence and is known for prosecuting studios that only use the name and don’t follow the practice. This style of yoga is wicked popular making it easy to find students to attend your classes.

Hatha

Hatha yoga is a more broad term for the practice of physical postures. This is the most basic and gentle form of yoga available that is great for beginners. Hatha is a great form of yoga that will leave you likely feeling looser, longer and more relaxed.

Hot Yoga

Hot yoga is very similar the Bikram style, but the biggest difference between the two is that hot yoga doesn’t always follow the Bikram sequence to a T. You will be in a super hot room and will sweat buckets while doing hot yoga too.

Iyengar

Iyengar yoga is a pretty popular style that was developed by B.K.S. Iyengar (pronounced eye-yen-gar). This is a meticulous type of yoga that has each student focus on the proper alignment in each pose. To help students find their proper poses it is common to see block, blankets, straps, chairs, bolsters and a rope wall in the yoga studio. This isn’t a cardio strenuous type of yoga, but you will certainly learn quickly that it is very physically and mentally challenging. The Iyengar yoga teachers are required to go through comprehensive training and are adept at helping students that may have had an injury or chronic condition; this is the type of yoga for you.

Restorative

Restorative yoga is a nice and relaxing way to take care of those overworked nerves. This style of yoga also uses bolsters, blankets and blocks as props to help students in more passive poses. These passive poses aided by the props allow students to feel the benefits of each pose without having to put out any effort. Restorative yoga is good to rejuvenate and relax you just as a nice afternoon nap would.

Vinyasa

Vinyasa (pronounced vin-yah-sah) is the literal translation of “flow” in Sanskrit. It’s the perfect name for this style too because the classes are known for how fluid and movement based the practices are. To keep things lively as you transition from pose to pose, teachers will often play music. Vinyasa will definitely keep you on your toes and test your limits, especially if you attend a hot vinyasa class you as you will surely leave a ton of sweat on the mat…if you can even peel yourself off of it after the class that is.

Downward Dog Life – Meet World Renowned Yogi Kia Miller

As a yogi to be you may have already heard of rocking yoga goddess, Kia Miller and if you haven’t, listen up! Or is it read up? Either way, you’re surely picking up what we are dropping.

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Kia Miller grew up in the Falkland Islands (we totally had to google that, but that can be our little secret) where she enjoyed lots of outside time riding horses and playing for hours. Kia moved to mainland, England when she was 15 and soon after fell in love with yoga. She soon began studying with world renowned yoga teachers in India, Europe and the United States…Jealous party of 1 over here!

Kia began a career as a model and filmmaker that allowed her to travel all over the world and experience tons of different cultures and ways of life. During this busy time of her life she used yoga as a means to stay centered and free of stress. Her passion for yoga grew and now it is her life to live and breathe yoga and its teachings.

During her studies of yoga she became certified in Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow Tradition and Kundalini Yoga. In other words she can bend and fold herself into nearly any position. She also is well versed in all the ways that yoga can improve one’s life.

Kia is a very devoted yogi and teacher. Her goal is to teach and pass along her passion to those around her. Her yoga style is derived from many yogic disciplines that is suffused with traditional yoga aspects as well as intuition on her part. She likes to focus on breath, proper alignment and the important connection between your mind, body and spirit. This method allows her students to work at their own pace and feel safe in their environment.

Her main mission in life is to inspire those around her, elevate them when they need it most and educate as many people as possible. Kia also strives to embolden people to live life to the fullest all while being their most creative and joyful person as possible.

Kia offers classes out of YogaWorks studio in Santa Monica, California and also a 200 hour yoga instructor training course in Rishikesh, India. Also check out her awesome videos on YouTube that will whip your booty into shape and give you the chance to see Kia in her element.

Take a look at this awesome video of Kia Miller doing her thing!

Final Grade

Final grade time, kiddos! Get ready for our real deal impression of this career without any sugar coating. We promise to be as gentle as a vinyasa class…so not really gentle at all.

  • Degree vs. Debt: B-

It costs a few thousand dollars for each type of yoga instructor training class and this all has to be paid out of pocket before you begin classes or the day of your first class. This is a pretty decent size chunk of change to have to throw down all at once. The pay isn’t too bad for this career, but it can take a while to get hired at a studio if you are newly certified and you likely won’t make a whole lot of money right out of the gate. Definitely keep that in mind when considering signing up for a training class.

  • Difficulty of Degree: A

The yoga training course itself is not very difficult if you are going to really apply yourself and focus on the physical and mental aspects of the course. It’s by no means a technical certification and it’s more tiring on the body than anything. One of the pluses to this training is that you are getting in an extra workout in the process, so you’ll be certified and buff by the time you are finished.

  • Happiness Quotient: B

We really wanted to give this area an A for the grade, but just couldn’t. This is a job that you’ll likely love because you get to spread the joy that yoga brings to others, maintain your yoga body and often work for yourself on the schedule that you deem fit. From those stand points, it does sound awesome…but you have to take into account that you may not find a job in a studio or have enough of your own clients to make any money. Those are two very scary things if your income depends on them. Hopefully you don’t experience either thing, but just be aware of that possibility.

  • Job Outlook: B

Our society has become more and more aware of how important it is to keep our bodies healthy, so with that knowledge comes a need for more fitness type trainers. According to our BFF’s at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for a yoga or fitness trainer is at roughly 13% growth between 2012 and 2022. Now this growth is about as fast as the average growth for other industries, but not too shabby at all. It more or less means that there is a consist need for yoga trainers, so grab your mat and strike a yoga pose.

Sources and Recommended Reading

We tried to gather all of our sources while in Crane Pose, but instead we did a faceplant and now have yoga mat burn on our faces. Once we iced our foreheads we were able to compile this lovely list of sources that will tell you everything that you need to know to become a yoga master. Happy clicking and try not to twist yourself into a pretzel while reading!

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