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A 2021 study reveals that roughly one in 10 people in the U.S. have practiced yoga in the past 12 months. Additionally, the number of people engaging in a yoga practice has “considerably increased.” (1) That makes this a great time to become a yoga instructor.
If this is a path you wish to pursue, obtaining yoga teacher training is a good first step. We explain why, also discussing two teacher training options—in-person and online—to help you decide the best one for you.
Even if you’ve been practicing yoga for years, there’s always more to learn. Yoga teacher training exposes you to:
the history of yoga and how it influences practices today
yoga philosophy, including koshas and chakras
meditation and breathing, along with their techniques
ethics and your scope of practice as a yoga teacher
different yoga style options and what each one is
yoga anatomy and how to break down a yoga pose
how to create a successful business as a yoga instructor
The better you understand yoga, the easier it is to teach this practice. Yoga teacher training also establishes your expertise and authority as a yoga teacher.
This is especially important if you are a new yoga instructor. A lack of experience may cause potential clients to question your credibility. Or they may wonder if your training program is safe and/or effective. Completing a teacher training course provides a level of assurance. It says that you have the knowledge and skills needed for teaching yoga.
Search for “yoga teacher training” and you’ll find there are many programs available. Most fall into one of two categories:
In-person yoga teacher training: This is a teacher training course that you physically attend. It may be available at a yoga school or be offered through a local yoga studio. Either way, you are in the same room as the training instructor.
Online yoga teacher training: With online yoga teacher training, your instructor can be anywhere in the world. You take classes virtually, completing the lessons via computer.
Each yoga teacher training option has some pros and cons. Understanding what they are can help you pick the best one for you.
One benefit of in-person training is that your instructor is right there in front of you. Some people prefer this learning style. They like that if they have a question, all they have to do is raise their hand or approach the teacher. This creates a more personal learning experience.
Another pro of in person training is that you can get immediate feedback. The yoga teacher sees your training style and form. This enables them to share advice that more directly relates to you and what you may need help with most.
At the same time, in person training does have a few cons. If you don’t have a local yoga school, no other training options may be available in your area. This forces you to travel if you want to attend yoga teacher training if you don’t learn online. This can be costly, not to mention the amount of time it could require you to be away.
In person training also means that you learn on their schedule. Classes are set on specific days and times. If you work and/or have home obligations, attending at these times can be difficult. You’re forced to move things around to fit your teacher training in.
Online teacher training has pros and cons too. One of the main benefits of this training approach is convenience. You complete the lessons when it’s most suitable for you. If you want to learn about yoga philosophy at 6 a.m. or 11 p.m., you can. There is no specific time that you must appear for training like when you learn in person.
Online learning also offers the ability to set your own pace. If you have a busy schedule, you might want to space your training out. This enables you to learn what you need to know without sacrificing your other obligations. Alternatively, you may want to get through the online training more quickly. You can do that too because you set the speed.
So, what are some drawbacks of online yoga teacher training? For starters, you need access to a computer and the internet. Depending on your location and financial situation, this may present some issues.
Plus, because no one is looking over your shoulder in an online course, it’s easy to let the time slip away. Before you know it, the deadline for completing the online training has passed. That makes this a better option for people who can manage their time. It’s also better for people who can set (and stick to) their online learning goals.
In reality, neither type of yoga teacher training is superior to the other. It’s more a matter of selecting the best option for you. If you’re unsure, asking yourself a few key questions can help.
Do you have a yoga school nearby? If you do, you may have several in-person training options. If not, online yoga teacher training may be your best (or only) choice. The latter enables you to learn how to become a yoga teacher without having to travel.
Are you good at managing your time? It doesn’t matter how convenient online yoga teacher training is. If you don’t properly manage your time, you’re not going to complete the course within the specified period. If this is a concern, in-person teacher training may be a better choice for you.
How much time do you have in your schedule? If you lead a busy life, finding time for in-person yoga teacher training may be difficult. Learning yoga online may be easier to fit your training into your day.
Which way do you prefer to learn? Some people prefer in-person learning to learning online. Others like virtual studies more than being in a physical class. Choosing the teaching style that you like most can make it a more enjoyable experience.
How do you want to teach your yoga classes? Do you want to work with clients in person or do you want to become an online yoga teacher? Training using the same approach as you have learned gives you insight into what a class might be like. Even if you’re teaching different aspects of yoga, you can see how the teacher responds. You might decide to respond the same way when you become a yoga teacher. In this way, you’re able to gain experience based on what you see from your yoga instructor.
Once you’ve decided what type of yoga teacher training to pursue, the next step is to select your program. Here are a few factors to consider before making your final decision:
Certification: Does the class include yoga certification? Earning the designation of Certified Yoga Instructor provides a level of credibility to you as a trainer. It tells prospective clients that you know how to create a safe, effective yoga training program. It also helps you stand out from other instructors. If your competition isn’t a certified yoga teacher and you are, this can give you an advantage.
Comprehensiveness: Look at the curriculum for the teacher training course. What topics does it cover? Will you learn about yoga philosophy and different styles of yoga (vinyasa yoga, restorative yoga, etc.)? Does it also spend time on how to become an effective yoga teacher such as discussing principles of teaching, cueing, and sequencing? The more topics the training covers, the more knowledge and skills you’ll gain.
Authority: Is the program offered by a Registered Yoga School (RYS)? This designation is provided by the Yoga Alliance. It says that the school has passed certain training standards. Completion of this type of program also enables you to apply as a Registered Yoga Instructor.
Training “extras”: What does the program offer beyond yoga training? Does it teach you what to expect when leading your first yoga class, for instance? Or does it provide tips that are helpful to a new yoga teacher? What other “extras” does the program provide?
Paying attention to these things can help you pick a higher-quality yoga training program. It also increases the likelihood that you’ll be satisfied with the training you choose.
If you’re interested in yoga teacher training online, ISSA offers Yoga Teacher Certification. This 200-hour teacher training program is Yoga Alliance Certified. This enables you to apply to become a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT). It also includes a LIVE Learning Experience, which means that you have access to a live instructor virtually. This gives you the convenience of an online training program while still providing the value of in person yoga teacher training.
Schröter, M., & Cramer, H. (2020). Prevalence and predictors of yogic breathing and meditation use – a nationally representative survey of US Adult Yoga Practitioners. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 56, 102617. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2020.102617