elephant journal Careers: Eight Steps to becoming a Yoga Teacher. ~ Heidi Hval

Via elephant journal
on Apr 12, 2009
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A New Career as a Yoga Teacher.

by Heidi Hval

Ready to escape the cubicle life and swap your business clothes for yoga pants?

According to a recent article from Reuters, the tough economic times of recent years has led more and more people to pursue careers as yoga teachers. This might be the perfect time to reconsider your work life, and maybe blow the dust off those dreams of doing something different.

Regardless of the state of the economy, many yoga students are touched so deeply by their yoga practice that they feel compelled to go on to teach and share the benefits of yoga. Others are “just” looking for a fun job that is more aligned with their lifestyle.

If you are dreaming of becoming a yoga teacher, there are a few practical steps to consider:

1. Get a 200-hour certification.

Technically you don’t need a certification to teach yoga, but it’s a good idea to get some formal training. Most yoga studios and gyms require at least a 200-hour teacher training recognized by Yoga Alliance.

These days almost every yoga studio seems to have a teacher training. Do your research before committing to a program: What type of yoga would you like to specialize in? Do you have the time to do an intensive training, or would you rather space it out? Do you have a specific teacher you’d like to study with?

2. Register with Yoga Alliance.

Once you have completed and passed a recognized teacher training you can apply to Yoga Alliance to use the title Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT). The registration gives you a listing in the Yoga Alliance online database of teachers.

3. Get some teaching experience.

If you’re new to teaching, getting some experience will help you find your teaching voice. This is the time to work on keeping left from right, mirroring students, and developing a few true and tested sequences. To get some practice, offer a few free classes to family, friends, and colleagues. “It really helped me develop my confidence while teaching and prepare me for auditions,” says Elena Moye Johnston, a Bellevue yoga teacher and the president of Evoke Fitness.

4. Spread the word.

Start doing some self-marketing. Get a web site or blog, print some business cards, and make a yoga/creative resume. Contact local yoga studios and gyms, be willing to sub, and do some private classes on a sliding pay scale. You can also find yoga teaching opportunities in the corporate world, community centers, schools, libraries, retirement homes, and even museums! Seattle yoga teacher Trudy Mower says, “I knew I’d have a better chance starting off at a gym. I actually really love my gyms because I feel like the students are learning so much.”

5. Get liability insurance.

In an ideal world teaching yoga would be all chanting and warm fuzzy feelings, but it’s a fact of working with people’s health and physical activity that someone could get injured. Unless you know for sure that you are covered by your studio or gym’s policy, get personal liability insurance. There are several policies on the market aimed at yoga teachers and fitness professionals, such as Yoga Journal Benefits Plus.

6. Take a CPR class.

Yoga teachers work with diverse groups of people, so learn some first-aid and get CPR certified. Some gyms and studios require it of their teachers, but think about getting certified even if yours doesn’t.

7. Consider keeping your day job.

Yoga teaching is not going to make you rich, and these days every major city is packed with yoga teachers competing for the same jobs. It can be hard to earn a living as a yoga teacher, so consider keeping your day job or getting a part-time job to supplement your income until you see your earning potential as a teacher.

8. Beware of burn-out…and have fun!

Teaching is rewarding, but it can also be mentally and physically taxing. Take time out for your own yoga practice, and keep learning by attending classes and workshops with other teachers. Take on only as many classes as you can handle without losing your inspiration.

More than most occupations yoga teachers need to practice what they preach. To be a good teacher, first be a good student!


Heidi Hval lives in Seattle. Read more on her blog, Chai & Yoga.


elephantjournal.com Editorial Excerption Policy: As always, elephantjournal.com welcomes the linking and excerpting of our articles, features, interviews, videos on other blogs. We do ask that you not excerpt more than 50-75% of said material, and clearly link back to our site with some kind words if so inspired—just as we try and do on our site when riffing off others’ posts that we like.



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14 Responses to “elephant journal Careers: Eight Steps to becoming a Yoga Teacher. ~ Heidi Hval”

  1. sj* says:

    not "rich" yet, but fully rewarded. teaching yoga is TRULY the best job on the planet. love it!

  2. shobhika says:

    we offer teacher's training for more information on it please visit http://www.artisticyoga.com

  3. greenergirl says:

    I start teacher training in September and I'm so looking forward to it. Practice has already made me so rich – teaching might make me a spiritual millionaire!

  4. Good article Heidi, clear and concise.
    I would also suggest considering exactly why one wants to teach yoga, and being very clear about that. Also I would suggest that a consistent and ongoing personal practice is essential. I know from myself when I taught it was from the depth of my own practice and the understanding I gained from it.

  5. Narasu says:

    Thanks for writing a realistic article. I am in the middle of a 200-hour YTT Program. I love it and am excited to start teaching someone…but will need to be creative about teaching opportunities. The CPR tip is a good one. Hadn't thought of that.

  6. Thanks for this wonderful article Heidi!

  7. […] As a great follow-up, Elephant Journal has an informative post on the Eight Steps to Becoming A Yoga Teacher. […]

  8. […] NOTE: This was over ten years ago. Yoga Alliance requirements were not a thing, and there weren’t trained and eager teachers every-freaking-where like there are now. So, it was a perfectly acceptable practice for a student with absolutely no […]

  9. being a yoga teacher is worthy if you a person who like keeping yourself healthy and fit while helping others to be fit and happy in their lives.

  10. […] I started teaching yoga, I never thought I would have this problem: Yoga teacher […]

  11. @inasahajaa says:

    The Yoga Alliance part is optional, despite what they and others would have you believe…

  12. Sheila says:

    Great article! Thank you 🙂

  13. Kristychan88 says:

    Most new yoga teachers get paid a whopping $10 to $20 per class. If you are very lucky, you will get 4 or 5 classes a week to start. You have to pay for liability insurance, YA registration (which most studios will demand, whether you consider it optional or not) and additional trainings to keep your skill set fresh. As teachers, we invest far more into our education and teaching then we will ever reap financially. If you want to make your living solely as a yoga instructor, with no other supplemental income, expect to be teaching 25-35 classes per week (including privates, which you will need to survive). Be realistic. And don't let your desire to escape a cubicle be your reason for teaching yoga. Otherwise you will end up turning something you love into something you hate when you can't pay your rent.