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How to Become a Yoga Instructor

By Lisa M. Wolfe

You must pass a yoga instructor certification course before you can teach yoga classes. The benefits of being a certified yoga instructor include higher pay, a better understanding of yoga poses and the knowledge of how to care for your students. Various yoga certification companies are available and the requirements are not the same in every state, according to "Yoga Journal." Before you register for a certification, check with your state's guidelines, especially if you reside in Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and possibly New York, since these states have stricter requirements for yoga instructor certifications.

Question Yourself

Yoga instructors are highly paid per hour, but financial gain should not be your only reason for wanting to teach yoga. For instance, instructors earn an average of $35 per class, with some instructors getting paid near $80 at exclusive or university fitness centers. At community centers, yoga instructors typically earn $15 per class, or get paid a base rate plus up to $5 per student. For a private session of 60 to 90 minutes, you have the potential to earn between $50 and $150. Before you begin your path toward yoga certification, ask yourself the reasons why you want to instruct. Pursue your yoga instructor goals if your answers include things such as: you love yoga and want to share it with others; you are comfortable speaking in front of groups of people; you manage your time wisely and are punctual; you can market yourself and your classes; you are creative and can organize poses for different needs and populations; you have a positive, motivating and calming personality.

Choose a Certification

The most recognized yoga certification company is the Yoga Alliance. This is a 200-hour training course taught in the presence of a master yoga instructor. Expect to learn yoga postures, anatomy and physiology, yoga philosophy, chakras, the energy of the body, and prana, the breath. Other certification programs are available, but these may not be recognized by the Yoga Alliance's national registry of yoga instructors. This does not mean you cannot teach yoga -- each fitness facility has their own requirements, so it is essential to check with your employer before you begin a certification. Other companies such as YogaFit are two-day certifications which many fitness professionals choose to combine their exercise knowledge with yoga. You can pay between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars depending on the certifying company, so consider your finances when making your decision.

Your Style

When you perform yoga, you may think that yoga is only a series of physical poses. However, there are many branches of yoga beyond physical postures, such as spiritual connection, as well as philosophical and religious texts which can help enhance your overall practice. Many fitness instructors gravitate toward Hatha yoga as that style focuses on the yoga postures as exercise. Other styles include Bikram, which is the high-temperature yoga, Kundalini, which emphasizes breathing and Ashtanga, known as power yoga. Match your certification with your preferred style.

Practice Makes Perfect

Most yoga certification companies require that you volunteer to teach a specified number of yoga classes. These volunteer classes are the perfect opportunity to hone your new skills. You learn how to time your cues for flowing transitions between poses, and you'll improve your alignment in the poses to set a good example for your students. These practice classes also teach you how to provide modifications for students with physical limitations and how to use the tone of your voice to set the mood of the class. While you may resent teaching classes for free, try to see this time as part of the learning process on the way to becoming a great yoga teacher.

Find a Location

The location at which you instruct your free classes might hire you to teach, so make sure you bring your best. When searching for a yoga location, attend classes at your local yoga studios, or fitness centers to make your face known. Introduce yourself to the owners and managers and submit a resume for employment consideration. Offer to remain on the sub instructor list if they do not have an opening, as this is a great way to get a regular yoga instructor position. Other options are to set up a series of classes with your community education providers, churches or community centers. As you build your student base, your loyal students will follow you wherever you decide to teach. This is especially important if your goal is to open a private practice or your own yoga studio.

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