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Yoga Teacher Training: 200 Hours? 500 Hours? What Does It All Mean?

Yoga Teacher Training: learn, grow, and share what you love

More Than Just Learning to Teach: Why People Take a Yoga Teacher Training

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, 14,700 newly-trained teachers registered with Yoga Alliance in 2014 ALONE. To break it down further, averages out to 1,225 new teachers for every single one of the 50 states, in one year. WHAT? Where are all these teachers holding classes, you may wonder?

In reality, many people who go through yoga teacher training do so without any intention of teaching. Many simply want to expand their understanding of yoga, and to delve into topics such as anatomy, philosophy, meditation and other areas that a typical class simply can’t cover. At our studio, we allow these students to take the first 100 hours of our training program, known as the yoga immersion, where they can learn all about these topics without committing to a full teacher training.

Others look at their training as a long-term commitment to self-care; when you’re enrolled in a training, you practice a lot. You learn a lot about yourself, and are likely to gain some lasting perspective on what helps you feel happy, healthy and effective in life. You make supportive friends who don’t even laugh at you when you fall out of your arm balances. You grow in all kinds of ways.

For less than the cost of most week-long yoga retreats, you get a program that is likely to change your life. It’s definitely a commitment in terms of time and finances, but the rewards are numerous and profound. I’ve heard many a training graduate say that their training was the best year of their lives. As a teacher trainer, getting to witness the transformations that trainees go through is the best part of my job.

200 Hour vs. 500 Hour Certification: What’s the difference?

But what about those who DO plan to step beyond self-care and enhanced study, and actually want to teach? Will a 200 hour program give you the tools you need to be effective in the classroom? What about being a strong candidate for teaching positions? It depends, somewhat.

As you have probably noticed, the duration, requirements, and quality of 200 hour programs varies widely. Some programs allow you to get a certification in a few weeks. Some, on the other hand, require close to a year. The time spent digesting and assimilating what you’ve learned really shows when you begin teaching classes.

A solid 200 hour program, in our experience, should equip a prospective teacher with enough understanding of poses, alignment, anatomy, and philosophy to lead a serviceable weekly class. To gain the tools to teach more than a yoga class—to really teach people—generally requires more education and practice.

A full 500 hour training allows teachers time to hone the basic teaching skills they gained in their 200 hour training, taking them from “novice” to “professional” status. It also expands their toolbox: where a basic training enables you to teach classes, the full 500 hour experience gives you the knowledge base to expand into workshops, series, retreats, and private sessions.

More important than any of that, though? With an advanced training you can grow into the kind of teacher who is able to deeply read their students, and provide an experience that is personally tailored and highly effective for them. Essentially, you can grow into the kind of teacher whom students will seek out year after year, because you are able to give them an experience few other teachers can.

As studio owners, my business partner and I established a goal a couple of years ago: we eventually wanted our entire teaching staff to be 500 Hour RYTs (Registered Yoga Teachers.) At this point, 85% of our staff will be 500 hour certified by the end of 2017. Just to be clear, this is not about the title or the certificate itself. We find that having such a highly-trained staff makes a HUGE difference in the quality of care and attention we are able to offer our students—and that relationship with our students is everything to us.

As the number of yoga studios grows, many studios are coming to the same conclusion. They want to be sure teachers are highly prepared and knowledgeable. Having a 500 hour certification on your teaching resume can go a long way toward giving studio owners confidence in hiring you as a teacher. The investment in your career is powerful.

Beginning or Furthering Your Yoga Education: What to Look For

Whether you’re just beginning to think about yoga teacher training, or you’re an established teacher looking to further your education, there are a number of important questions to ask.

  • Does the training have a specific focus, such as Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga or Ayurveda? If so, does that focus match your goals and vision for yourself as a student and as a prospective teacher?
  • How long has the training been around? Has the program been running for numerous years, or is it brand-new? Experience matters.
  • How long have the lead trainers been teaching yoga? What is their reputation in their local community?
  • Does the training include ample time to practice teaching to peers? Will you get feedback from your practice teaching?
  • What is the job placement rate among the program’s graduates? If you plan to teach after graduating, this is an important detail.
  • What is the studio environment like? Are you comfortable there? Do the teachers seem happy, helpful, knowledgeable? Do they bother to learn your name? Every studio has its own unique character and culture, which is almost always reflected in the training programs they offer.

We love talking to prospective trainees about teacher training. If you have questions, feel free to comment below; send us a message at ; or call our studio manager, Jackie Evans, at 860-922-9752. We’d love to hear from you!

And stay tuned for next week’s blog post: an interview with a bunch of fantastic yoga teachers about their training experience. Until next time!


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