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The Path of Yoga Certification

Paul M. Jerard Jr.
May 21, 2008
What does it take to become a yoga instructor? You've practiced the positions and breathing techniques, almost every day, for years. You've gained a deeper understanding of the benefits of yoga and wish to share your knowledge with others. If you're willing to find a training program, the steps to yoga certification are simple.

Though the discipline has been popular for some time, yoga teacher training is far from standardized. Most training programs require that you have a minimum level of experience in yoga before being an instructor. Some require yoga postures (asanas), such as headstands. Others insist that you must be approved by the instructor who is training you. Some certification courses can be taken online or by correspondence.

Yoga is an ancient discipline that has traditionally been passed directly from teacher to student on a one-to-one basis. The idea of a class is relatively new. These days, the speed of information being exchanged, has changed everything including traditional forms of training.

Though there is no single "official" certification program, there are groups designed to keep the study organized. Usually, certifying bodies train an intern to become a Certified Yoga Teacher (CYT), after 200 hours of training. This credential alone is usually enough to begin teaching students in public yoga classes. If you are seeking more credentials, you may decide to train for a 500 hour credential or become a Registered Yoga Teacher.

In the United States, yoga registration is optional and is handled by the Yoga Alliance. The Yoga Alliance is recognized, within the industry, as a registration program that helps maintain the high standards of yoga. It has different levels of yoga registration.

The first program requires two hundred hours of training, and is sometimes a requirement for employment in a studio. There is also a five hundred hour program for those who want advanced registration. Finally, there are experienced levels of registration, which have the designation, E-RYT.

Different hatha yoga disciplines, such as Iyengar or Bikram, require you to study under their own certified instructors. Some forms are more lenient in their training programs. The school you choose assists you on your path to becoming a yoga instructor.

You also want to see the length of each certification program. Some classes will meet on weekends only, and run nine months. Others will meet nearly every day, but only last a month. Inquire at a school and find a class that fits your schedule.

Besides yoga certification, it is important to have a basic understanding of human anatomy in order to accommodate students. For example, a thoroughly trained teacher must know how to advise someone with back problems or arthritis.

Besides knowing the positions and techniques of yoga, it is a good idea to understand the philosophy. Study some of the important texts, such as the Bhagavad Gita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, to gain a deeper understanding of yoga. These works teach a prospective instructor about the philosophy of yoga.

Though there are important texts in yoga, remember that yoga is not a religion. It requires no adherence to a belief system and there are no deities. It is a discipline designed to enable self-awareness. Some teachers adhere to different religions, but they are not connected to yoga.

Becoming a yoga instructor can provide you with the lasting knowledge that you are improving the lives of your students. You will also bring yourself great joy as you learn more about advanced studies in yoga. However you decide to pursue your certification, your new career is certain to bring you much happiness.

Copyright 2008 - Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
About the Author
Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA. He is an author of many books on the subject of Yoga and has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995.

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