Yoga Schools and Yoga Certification

The wellness boom of the 21st century has increased the demand for yoga instruction. While a career in yoga instruction won’t make you rich, it’s a great career for someone who is truly interested in how the body, mind, and spirit work together to enhance the health and well being of a person. In order to become a yoga teacher, you must attend yoga school and obtain yoga certification.

Yoga is the perfection of spiritual insight and tranquility. It is best achieved through a meditative state achieved through various physical positions that challenge the body and its flexibility. Postures such as the cobra, triangle, warrior, and downward facing dog allow the body to stretch, the lungs to breathe, and the muscles to gain oxygen, which helps to provide tranquility and insight. Considered a fitness exercise in the United States, it is also a way to clear the head and reduce the stress and tensions of the day. Yoga is focused on anatomy, philosophy, sequencing, and alignment of the body.

Yoga certification may be acquired through attendance at yoga school or teacher training programs. The basic curriculum for yoga certification programs may vary, but they usually involve many common elements. The first thing to consider when looking at a school’s curriculum is the styles of yoga instruction they provide. Common styles include Ananda, Bikram, Ashtanga, Kripalu, Power, Integral, and Vinyasa. The teacher’s experience and expertise in the particular style of yoga being taught is another consideration.


Some curriculum’s focus their yoga instruction on particular populations, such as prenatal, senior citizens, or kids. Many curriculum’s try to provide instruction in a rather short amount of time. Some programs condense all material into a month’s worth of classes, with sessions that meet daily. Other programs stretch instruction out to six months with sessions on a weekly basis. Some programs are residential, where prospective instructors have sessions all day long and during the evenings, too. It’s also important to learn about where the instruction will take place. Some schools teach in home settings, ashrams, studios, or residential settings.

The Yoga Alliance administers yoga certification to teachers. The Alliance was founded in 1999, after merging the Unity in Yoga and Ad Hoc Yoga Alliance organizations. The Alliance ensures that the public can be confident in the quality and consistency of yoga instruction provided by certified instructors. They require yoga teachers to undergo a 200-hour program or a 500-hour program for certification. The 200-hour program consists of:

  • 100 hours of techniques training and practice
  • 25 hours of teaching methodology
  • 20 hours of anatomy and physiology
  • 30 hours of yoga philosophy, lifestyle, and ethics for yoga teachers
  • 10 hours of practicum
  • 15 hours of electives

The 500-hour program consists of:

  • 150 hours of techniques training and practice
  • 30 hours of teaching methodology
  • 35 hours of anatomy and physiology
  • 60 hours of yoga philosophy, lifestyle, and ethics for yoga teachers
  • 40 hours of practicum
  • 185 hours of electives

There are several questions that a prospective student should ask prior to going to school to acquire yoga certification. The school’s affiliation with the Yoga Alliance should be confirmed prior to enrollment. It’s appropriate to ask the school how many classes it has graduated, and how many have conformed to the Yoga Alliance guidelines for certification. Prospective students should ask about faculty members and their backgrounds and levels of expertise. The assessment process should be considered to determine that core competencies are required for graduation from the program. Finally, cost is a factor. Many programs may cost in excess of $3,000.