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Can a Personal Trainer Teach Yoga? What You Need to Know

Can a Personal Trainer Teach Yoga? What You Need to Know

Reading Time: 6 minutes 34 seconds


DATE: 2020-04-07

According to a study of nearly 4,000 people, yoga is a big deal in the U.S. (1):

  • The number of yoga practitioners went up from 20.4 million in 2012 to 36.7 million in 2016.

  • Spending on yoga classes increased from $10 billion to $16 billion in that same period.

  • Nearly three-quarters of practitioners have only been doing yoga for five years or less.

  • More than one-third of Americans say they're very likely to practice yoga at some point in the next 12 months.

Clearly, Americans are into yoga. And it's for good reason. Yoga is great for flexibility, muscle strength and endurance, weight maintenance, and overall wellness. With increasing interest in yoga, there is an increasing demand for good instructors.

Whether you're a yoga newbie or a yogi, a personal trainer or in another career, you can take the steps to learn to be a yoga instructor. There will be plenty of clients for knowledgeable, engaging yoga teachers.

Is Certification Required to Be a Yoga Instructor?

Teaching yoga may be a great new career for you. Or, if you are already a personal trainer, adding yoga to your list of classes and sessions can help you build your business. Before you get started, though, it's important to understand what it entails.

There are no official requirements for yoga instructors in terms of education, training, or certification. The government does not set any requirements, but the industry standard is to be certified. To be able to teach clients effectively and safely, you need to be trained. Simply doing your own workouts at home or taking classes as a yoga student is not adequate. In a good training course for yoga instructors, you'll learn several things to help you teach others:

  • The different types of yoga and how to choose which is most appropriate for each client

  • How to break down poses to teach someone else to do them

  • How to correct form and direct clients

  • The philosophy of yoga and how to teach it to students

  • Breathing techniques for mindfulness and meditation

  • How to develop sequences of poses that flow and match the needs of classes as well as individual clients

  • How to modify poses for individuals with mobility limitations, injuries, or illnesses

  • Anatomy and physiology, and how it applies to yoga movements

Check with Studios and Gyms for Requirements

Before choosing or starting a program for yoga instructor training, ask around to some gyms and studios where you might be interested in working. Because there are no certification requirements set by the government, each workplace can determine what kind of education or instructor certification they want their trainers to have. There may be some variations from one employer to the next.

Should You Have a Yoga Mentor?

Becoming proficient at practicing yoga and instructing others is an ongoing practice. A useful way to get better at this, and to be able to offer students and clients the best service is to learn from an experienced instructor.

Many yoga instructors, and yogis, are willing to take on students and mentees. Exactly how the relationship proceeds depends entirely on those involved. But consider this option even as you begin to work as an instructor. Working with a master instructor will help you improve and also show potential new clients how serious you are about this new role.

Can a Certified Personal Trainer Teach Yoga Too?

You can start a teacher training program to become a certified yoga instructor whether you are currently a personal trainer or not. Being a trainer is a great place to start, and adding this certification allows you to expand your offerings, but it isn't required.

If you are already a certified personal trainer and have been a yoga practitioner for a while, you may be able to begin teaching yoga. Because there are no official requirements for teachers, you can take on clients even without a credential.

This is especially true if you are in business for yourself. There is no government or licensing agency that can stop you from calling yourself a yoga instructor. However, if you work through a gym, your employer may insist you get that certification first.

Benefits of Getting Certified in Yoga - Whether You're a Trainer or Not

If you are considering adding yoga to your list of classes or workouts for individual clients, you should get certified. Getting certified in yoga instruction is a useful credential for personal trainers, but it's not limited to current fitness professionals. Anyone with a passion for this ancient philosophy of movement and breathing can learn how to break down poses, instruct and guide others, and develop workouts for clients. And, the benefits of getting certified go beyond business and work opportunities. Learning more about yoga is also personally enriching.

Deepen Your Knowledge of Yoga

If you're looking into becoming a yoga teacher, you probably already enjoy the practice. A certification program can give you a deeper understanding of it. You'll learn more about the underlying philosophies, the history of yoga, the different styles of practice, and how yoga has changed over the years. The more you understand about yoga, the more meaningful your own personal practice will be.

Not only will you find it more enriching to learn more about yoga, but your actual physical abilities will improve with instructor training. No matter how good your teachers have been in the past, learning to be an instructor takes your poses to another level. You'll probably even master certain poses you previously thought of as unattainable.

Expand Your Offerings for Group Classes

The more you can offer as a personal trainer, the more successful you'll be as a business owner. You need to be able to meet the needs of a variety of clients, and yoga is a great feature that may draw in more clients.

If you lead group fitness classes, learn yoga and add it to your list. Any kind of group instruction is a great way to earn more money in less time, and with an expanded offering you'll attract more interested participants and potential new clients.

Add Variety to Client Sessions

Getting a solid educational foundation in yoga not only allows you to teach yoga classes or guide individuals in yoga, but it also helps you expand regular workouts. For any given client, having yoga in your repertoire can be beneficial.

Yoga is great for strength training, flexibility, balance, posture, muscle endurance, stress management, and so much more. If you can add some yoga poses to your clients' regular workouts, they'll get these benefits.

Clients will also appreciate changing up the usual routine. The more variation you add to your personal training workouts, the easier it is for individuals to stay interested and motivated to meet their fitness goals. Yoga is a fun alternative to the usual cardio and weightlifting.

Find Your Family

Becoming an instructor is not just personal or about expanding your business. It is also a way to find your chosen family, the other people who love yoga as much as you do. It can be so rewarding to bond and learn together with other like-minded yogis. You'll find a whole new group of friends, both virtually and in the studio to share in your passion. This community will be an important source of friendship, networking, and lifelong connections.

Tackle Your Spiritual Side

Many people approach yoga solely as a physical fitness routine. And it's great for that. It improves strength, flexibility, and balance, and it even improves your cardio fitness. Yoga is also a philosophy, a way of life, and a spiritual practice. By taking an instructor course you may just find a spiritual side you didn't know you had or deepen your current spiritual practices.

What to Look for in a Yoga Certification Course

The certification program you find to work with should meet your specific needs. For instance, you may want to go through an online program that gives you the flexibility to study on your own schedule. Most of these also include time spent with an instructor in a gym or studio.

Or, you may find that a training program conducted entirely in-person with all hands-on learning. It may be important for you to find a school with a 200-hour program or one with specialty courses. Make sure you understand what your goals are for learning and getting certified, and you will be able to choose the best program.

Choose a Good Instructor

As you choose a program to learn how to become a teacher, make sure you're being taught by the best. An instructor that trains instructors should have at least ten years of yoga practice under their belt. You don't want to learn from someone who has hardly any of their own personal experience; you want a master. Ask about credentials and experience before committing to a program.

Yoga has been around for thousands of years. Not only is this ancient practice not in danger of going extinct, but it is also still growing in popularity. From beginners to master yogis, practitioners of yoga find it relaxing and invigorating, peaceful and meditative, and a great way to exercise. As an instructor of yoga, you will be able to help clients enjoy these benefits safely.

Get a solid foundation for teaching yoga by completing ISSA's Certified Yoga Instructor course. This course is designed specifically to help personal trainers, group exercise instructors, and other fitness professionals incorporate and instruct students in Yoga. You'll become a certified trainer and be ready to learn how to teach yoga and lead classes.

  1. Yoga Alliance. (2016, January 13). Highlights from the 2016 Yoga in American Study. Retrieved from https://www.yogaalliance.org/Learn/About_Yoga/2016_Yoga_in_America_Study/Highlights

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