This week the whole yoga community was up in arms after a new Yoga Journal article quoted Yoga Alliance’s standards as saying,  “Only an RYT 200 is a ‘qualified teacher’ of Yoga.”

Being an RYT 200 is no longer a requirement to teach yoga. Today, you do not even need to be certified, though it is still helpful to have some experience under your belt. Why? Teaching yoga is a highly personal experience, and it takes years of practice to gain the confidence to be able to help others. It is also important to recognize that yoga is more than a physical practice. It is about your connection to yourself, your life and your spirit. It is about helping others understand the role that yoga can play in their lives.

You don’t have to be a 200 hour RYT to teach yoga, but you do need to be an RYT 200 in order to teach yoga. That’s the rule. RYT 200’s are the only type of yoga teacher that are allowed to teach classes at Yoga International. As far as I’m aware, there aren’t many RYT 200’s teaching classes out there, and I’m not counting my own classes that I teach here at Which means that, as far as I know, I’m the only RYT 200 yoga teacher in the world.

You are considering becoming a yoga teacher and have heard that the RYT 200 is the benchmark in teaching. Is this a hard and fast rule for yoga classes or are there other options? Do you really need to be RYT 200 to teach yoga in today’s world?

Below are several factors to consider in order to achieve your dream of becoming a yoga teacher.

What is RYT 200?

RYT stands for Registered Yoga Teacher, and RYT 200 is one of the certifications offered by Yoga Alliance, one of the leading professional yoga agencies. RYT 200 training requirements are based on hours and content (for example, RYT 200 yoga teacher training programs must offer 20 hours of anatomy training).

Studios submit their Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) programs to Yoga Alliance for approval, participants complete an approved RYT 200 training and can then register as a RYT 200 with Yoga Alliance. Currently, the cost of initial registration and application for RYT 200 status is $105 and the annual renewal fee is $50.

Tip: Visit the Yoga Alliance website to read the requirements for RYT 200 certification.

Do I have to be RYT 200 to teach?

One of the factors to consider when deciding whether you need a RYT 200 certificate is where you will be teaching. The place of instruction is crucial.

Some gyms require that all their instructors have completed the RYT 200 program and that the instructors are registered as RYT 200 with the Yoga Alliance. If you plan to teach at home or in a studio that does not require RYT 200 status, a certificate is not that important.

If you’re not sure where you’ll be teaching after graduation, it’s best to attend a RYT200 approved training program. Even if you don’t choose Yoga Alliance, you have options.

Tip: Contact local yoga studios or gyms and ask about their requirements to teach. Talk to local yoga teachers to inquire about job opportunities and whether they require a RYT 200 where they teach.

Responsibility to your students

Many students are attracted to yoga not because they are in a good physical and emotional state, but because they can handle it. As yoga teachers, we have a great responsibility to our students.

Having an approved RYT 200 program is not a guarantee that a yoga teacher training is of high quality, but it is certainly a step in the right direction. There may also be teacher training programs that are not RYT 200 approved, but are nonetheless of high quality.

Students should study these programs carefully to ensure that their curriculum is sound. Make sure the yoga teacher training you choose is not only important for your future, but also for your future students who will trust you as a teacher.

What are your long-term goals?

In addition to RYT 200, Yoga Alliance now offers E-RYT 200 (experienced yoga teacher) and RYT 500 (students who achieve this degree have completed 500 hours of training). I’ve even heard that some schools offer their own 1000 hour training courses.

Are you planning on having your own studio in the future? Do you think you would like to teach in a teacher training program? If so, you may want to continue your RYT 200 training. Again: If you’re not sure, it’s wise to keep your options open.

Tip: Take time to meditate or journal about your future as a yoga teacher. Imagine in a year, in five years, in ten years… Where do you see yourself?

My experience

One of my all-time favorite teachers spent decades studying yoga with a one-on-one teacher, at a time when Yoga Alliance didn’t exist. Again: It is important to remember that completing the RYT 200 program and registering for RYT 200 status are not prerequisites to becoming a good yoga teacher. However, in this day and age, it makes sense to keep your options open and achieve the RYT 200.

I recently completed the RYT 200 accredited yoga teacher training. Since then, however, I have not signed up with Yoga Alliance because the actual cost of signing up ($105) did not outweigh the benefits to me. Where I teach, I don’t need to have that, I have teacher insurance through a separate agency and I have completed an approved RYT 200 program with the appropriate skills and knowledge. At this point, it doesn’t make sense for me to join Yoga Alliance.

However, I look forward to registering as a RYT 200 in the future if the need arises. This yogi’s advice: Do research on different yoga teacher training programs, talk to past graduates, and if there is no good reason, choose a program that is accredited by RYT 200.

Yogi friends: Come with us. Have you taken a YTT course approved by RYT 200? Are you registered as a RYT 200 with the Yoga Alliance?

Photo credits: Odette HughesThere’s a common misconception among yoga teachers about the RYT 200 certification that it is necessary in order to teach yoga. This is not true at all. In fact, the RYT 200 is a certification for a life time of yoga training, and anyone wanting to teach yoga can become certified without passing the exam.. Read more about how to become a yoga instructor and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need a YTT to teach yoga?

No, but it is a good idea to have a YTT if you want to teach yoga.

Is 200 hours enough to teach yoga?

It depends on the type of yoga. For a beginner, 200 hours is enough to learn the basics of yoga.

What qualifications do you need to be a yoga instructor?

Yoga instructors need to have a strong understanding of the practice and be able to teach it in a way that is accessible for all levels.

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