about the yoga teaching pathBy Marie Jerard, RYT 500, E-RYT 200

Where are you on your Yoga teaching path? As you follow the yellow brick road toward continuing education or becoming a yoga teacher, you will certainly come to many forks along the way. The decisions that you make will determine where your Yoga teaching  path will carry you. Many say that Yoga was a calling, not a choice. Others choose Yoga based on the holistic lifestyle it affords them or the desire to become more than they are.

Walking the Yoga Teaching Path

Regardless of where your path guides you, it is good to start at the beginning. Often the essential principles of Yoga are overshadowed by the athleticism. When celebrities started attributing their toned and limber bodies to their own personal Yoga gurus, the nation jumped on board quickly. However, Yoga is more than physical exercise, and it is important to embrace the whole embodiment of the practice.


If you are contemplating becoming a yoga teacher, you should take time to understand Patanjali’s eightfold path. The simplified interpretations of this ancient esoteric text can be your detailed map to a full understanding of yourself and your practice.

1. Yama – The first step on the path encourages non-violence and truthfulness. The teaching essentially advocates treating others respectfully.

2. Niyama – This limb requires developing a spiritual path and self-discipline. Examples of this discipline could be – engaging in daily meditations or the study of sacred scriptures.

3. Asanas – Postures are merely a stepping-stone along the path to a full understanding of yoga. Poses are a way to honor the body and develop concentration.

4. Pranayama- The technique of using your breath to achieve more awareness is essential to prepare yourself for the second half of the eightfold path.

5. Pratyahara – This means withdrawing your senses.

6. Dharana – Simply defined as concentration, this step refers to being able to hold your focus on one object and avoid other thoughts from entering your mind.

7. Dhyana – This is the state of meditation achieved through complete stillness of the mind.

8. Samadhi – The final step of the eightfold path is divine enlightenment. It may seem impossible to achieve, but it is good to understand what it means as you go forward.


Once you understand the components of the eightfold path, you will be prepared to continue on your journey to becoming a fully aware teacher of Yoga.

Depending on how much experience you have, you may be looking at different methods for expanding your knowledge. These days, there are many options with styles of Yoga, and the type of training that matches your lifestyle. Experienced teachers may be looking to specialize, while those who aspire to teach, may be looking at foundational teacher training options.

Which Type of Yoga Teacher Training Program is Right for You?

Have you begun to wonder what it would be like to become a Yoga teacher? Are you considering taking a teacher training program? Here are a few things to consider as you move forward on your path to becoming a certified teacher.

200 Hour or 500 Hour Training

The typical path to becoming a Yoga teacher is to take a 200 hour certification course. In this type of course, students usually learn how to teach Yoga, correct alignment for poses, Sanskrit names for postures, yogic philosophy and functional anatomy. Students who graduate from a 200 hour level training program are ready to teach at a studio or gym.

Students who wish to further advance their training will sign up for a 500 hour certification course. During this course, students will learn about all of the topics listed in the paragraph above, but in much more depth and detail. After completing a 500 hour training, yoga instructors are qualified to teach a variety of training programs.


Immersion, Classroom Sessions or Online Coursework

Once you have determined which certification is right for you, you will need to decide how you would like to receive the information for your course. Many schools offer immersion courses. Students of these courses become full-time residents of the ashram or school for a certain period of time, usually one month for a 200 hour course. People, who can take a break from their personal lives to reside at an ashram, typically find success with this format.

For those with families, work commitments or other engagements that would prevent them from signing up for an immersion program, classroom sessions are often an excellent alternative. Many Yoga studios and ashrams offer classroom sessions several times a week. These classes are normally scheduled on weekends and evenings to accommodate students’ work schedules. During classroom sessions, students learn hands-on techniques for assists and adjustments. They also have the opportunity to perfect their personal Yogic techniques under the guidance of master teachers.

If neither of these options is right for you, an online teacher training course may be a perfect fit.  Online versions of 200 hour instructor training courses contain the essential information for building foundational teaching skills. Students learn the same information offered in immersion and classroom courses, but with the option to learn at their own pace. People with intense workloads, or family responsibilities, typically find that the flexibility of an online or distance learning course is a perfect match for their busy lives.

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