Q&A: Should I get my 200-hour yoga teacher certification?

Q&A: Should I get my 200-hour yoga teacher certification?

I’ve received several emails over the past couple months with a similar theme – should I invest in yoga teacher training? Was it all worth it? I wanted to address this in a Q&A post in case others were searching online and might find the information helpful. So here goes.

I’m new to yoga. Should I become a teacher?

Jen writes,

I’ve been taking yoga classes and I just feel so drawn to study it further and to teach it to others.  I just love the spiritual aspect of it and it really gives me such a deep sense of calm and balance. I think it is something so many people could benefit from, and I was just so inspired by my own teacher who was fantastic. Anyway, I guess I just wanted to know how difficult the training was.

I’ve taken a few months of classes here and there with a few different teachers. I wondered if you thought a certain degree of experience was necessary before entering into it. I really feel so drawn to it, but I just want to make sure I’m not biting off more than I can chew, especially since it is a fairly big financial commitment for me too. I’d really appreciate your thoughts!

Of course there are no rules about how long you should practice yoga before becoming a yoga teacher. And technically, you will probably learn everything you need to know about yoga from your teacher training program. However, if I were advising a friend who was new to yoga – I would tell her to wait at least a year. Have a solid, consistent practice for at least a year before you pursue teacher training. There are things as a new yogi that will completely change during several months of consistent practice. Not just flexibility or focus, but the way you practice, the type of teacher you resonate with, the type of class you enjoy, and more.

Get to know yourself as a yogi before you decide to make the time and financial investment into teacher training. This way, you can know what type of teacher training is right for you. Maybe a basic hatha yoga teaching certification is all you need, but maybe you will find out within the course of a year that you are in love with a certain lineage of yoga (like Anusara or TriYoga) or find that you exclusively want a hot yoga certification.

So my advice is to keep practicing, get a consistent home practice, visit your local studio, try as many classes as you can, and just wait a bit!

I want to deepen my practice – should I get my teaching certification?

This is a tricky question and I’ve gotten it from several friends on Facebook and just in casual conversation. I have a contradictory answer.

On the one hand, if you just want to deepen your own personal practice, learn more about the ethics and spirituality of yoga, learn to meditate, or cultivate more difficult asana, I would recommend that you attend retreats, intensives or workshops. I don’t think you necessarily need teacher training.

Teacher training is a huge financial commitment (easily $2,000-$5,000 for a 200-hour course), as well as time/life commitment. My training program lasts over a year – every 5-6 weeks, I spend a whole weekend (Friday night, all day Saturday, all day Sunday) in training. And there are more intense schedules than that, of course – you can complete your training in an intense two weeks or one month course.

I think if you are just wanting to learn something specific, like how to bring the yamas and niyamas into your life, or how to master arm balances – that you attend a retreat or workshop focused on that subject.

And here’s where I’m going to contradict myself. I entered into the 200-hour RYT program simply wanting to deepen my personal practice. I really had no plans to teach. And I found out through the course that I did want to teach. I discovered that I had a passion for sharing yoga with the “yoga misfits” – those of us with big bodies, injuries, and creaky joints – and I never would have realized that had I not gone through the training. So your mileage may vary. If you are concerned about the financial and time commitment, start small with a workshop or retreat. If you can swing it, yoga teacher training will change your life. It’s changed mine!

All about the Benjamins

Erin had some really specific questions about the money side of things:

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I had wanted to get my 200-hour TTC, but it’s expensive around here (~$2,300) and I had put it on the back burner to focus on other priorities. However, I have an opportunity to start next spring, but I want to make sure it’s financially sound. I know a lot of yoga folks don’t like talking about money, because we’re supposed to be called to something higher, etc. But if I’m going to the trouble, I want to make sure it’s worth it.

Here are her questions:

Do you feel like YTT was a sound financial investment? 

I absolutely feel like it was. It wasn’t a trivial amount of money at all (I’ll be about $2,500 in, all said and done) but the education and amount of one-on-one time I’ve received for the money was excellent in my opinion. Hats off to Anna Pittman at The Breathing Space. She has programs in Virginia Beach, Blacksburg, Va., and Beckley, West Virginia.

How easy is it to pick up classes to teach?

Well, it was pretty easy for me, but I was pretty lucky, I think. My good friend Lisa owns The Space Above Yoga Center, where I practice. She had wanted to offer a class geared toward larger-bodied yogis for some time. A spot opened up this month, and so now I have a weekly class. I really didn’t have to do anything, haha.

I also was asked by the public library to teach classes. Check with your local library – a lot of yoga teachers start out here! The downside to teaching at a library is that you have to bring your own props and may not have wall space, so consider that when you agree to teach.

Teachasana is a great resource for advice on picking up classes, structuring workshops, growing your yoga business, and more. And don’t forget Facebook. I am part of a group called “757 Yogis” for teachers and yogis in the area. People post advertisements when they need a substitute, start a new class, and more.

How are you compensated for teaching (flat rate, or portion of each student’s fee, or some other arrangement)? 

Every yoga studio is different. Where I teach, there’s a flat rate depending on how many students come to your class. So for example – 5 students or under, you get a certain amount. For 6-10 students you get $10 more. For over 10 students you get $20 more, and so on. The library pays me $60 per class which is really great for a yoga teacher (this is what they pay other teachers too, like for knitting or painting classes).

Do you feel like you’ll recoup your investment? Is the investment of the time it takes to get certified worth the income you’ll realize when you teach?

Hmm, probably not, but I don’t intend to make a living teaching yoga full time. I think anything above 2 or 3 classes a week would be overwhelming. I like one class a week for now. See my answer above about doing retreats vs. teacher training. If you don’t plan to teach full-time or heavily part-time, the investment might not be for you.

What do you think?

Any other questions about yoga teacher training? What is your experience with the financial and time commitment? Tell us in the comments!

About Amber

I'm Amber and this is my blog about yoga, body acceptance, and making friends with yourself in the process! Like what you're reading? Subscribe via RSS or receive posts by email. Want to be the first to know when I do something awesome like teach a class or publish an eBook? Then the email newsletter is for you. Or, just follow me on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Amber, thank you thank you thank you for taking the time to do this! Amazing post, and I appreciate all your candid insights. I haven’t fully made up my mind about taking the plunge or not, but am definitely making a concerted effort to fit yoga in every day, starting with my 21-day yoga challenge: http://lawschooltransplant.com/2011/12/14/21-days-of-yoga-day-1/ (my blog is definitely not as pretty as yours, though!). I will let you know what I decide! :)

  2. Paige Orloff says:

    Love these insights, and your whole approach;wish I had a teacher like you here in my corner of the world. Can you share what you do for your home practice? This is something I’m working on for myself, after 15 years as a highly erratic yogi!

  3. My friend is a licensed yoga instructor, but how can she help her students become licensed yoga instructors as well? Should she register first in yoga alliance? I really am troubled. Can you help me?

  4. Sandra Holliday says:

    I have a 200hr Hatha Yoga certification and I have been teaching for 5 1/2 yrs. I teach 9 classes a week. I am wondering if this time teaching could partially count towards a 500hr certification. I also would like to know how I can certify other fellow yogis to receive a 200hr. cert. Thank you!
    Namaste,
    Sandra Holliday

  5. Hi Amber,

    Great post — I’ve just spent a fair amount of time researching different yoga TTC’s. I think you’re spot on about doing retreats/ workshops first. I did, however, just jump head first into a meditation TTC and feel I made the right choice — the information I’m learning by doing the TTC is much more than I would have received from doing lots of workshops etc.

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