The 6 Main Types of Yoga Certifications

Becoming a yoga teacher is a journey of a lifetime, but the process of understanding the different types of yoga certifications can be complex if you’re not familiar.

The first step to becoming a yoga teacher is to take a training program, and each person will have a different path to certification that feels right for them.

But it is important to remember that becoming a yoga instructor isn’t only about the certification; it also takes dedication to your own personal practice and the embodiment of the principles of yoga.

Yoga teacher quote

Yoga teacher certifications are primarily regulated by an organization called Yoga Alliance, and this organization sets the standards for training for each level of yoga teacher certification.

In this article, we will go over the six primary types of yoga certifications and give you all the information that you need to discover the best yoga teacher certification level for you!

What are the 6 Primary Types of Yoga Certifications?

Yoga Alliance, the main governing body for yoga teacher training, describes yoga teachers’ certification by the number of hours that the training lasts.

The foundational types of yoga teacher training include three main levels:

  • 200-hour
  • 300-hour
  • 500-hour

Beyond these, there are also three specialty certifications in children’s yoga, prenatal yoga, and a broader category for any continuing education or specialty certifications.

Within each of these different certification designations described by Yoga Alliance, there are also tons of different variations in the yoga style and lineage that make each training unique.

No two training programs are alike, so it is crucial to discover within these foundational certifications what yoga style most resonates with you.

RYT 200hrs – 200hrs Yoga Teacher Training Certification

Yoga Alliance RYT200 program

The foundational level for all yoga teachers is the 200-hour yoga teacher training course. This level of training covers the basics of becoming a yoga teacher. Every training is a bit different, but they all must cover topics on yoga techniques, teaching methodology, anatomy and physiology, philosophy and ethics, and practicum hours.

RYT 300hrs – 300hrs Yoga Teacher Training Certification

After completing the 200-hour yoga teacher training course, the next level of training is the 300-hour yoga teacher training course. The 300-hour teacher certification course often covers many of the same subjects as the 200-hour course but in greater depth. Some schools also include specialty topics within their 300-hour courses, such as trauma-informed yoga, yin yoga, or adaptive yoga.

RYT 500hrs – 500hrs Yoga Teacher Training Certification

Yoga Alliance RYT500 program
Yoga Alliance RYT500 program

There are three ways to get the RYT 500 designation from Yoga Alliance. You can either take a 200-hour and a 300-hour yoga teacher training course from two different schools, both from the same school but at other times, or the full 500-hours of training together in a single program. Ultimately, the 500-hour level of training is simply a combination of the 200-hour and 300-hour levels, no matter which way you choose to combine them.

RCYT – Children’s Yoga Teacher Training Certification

Yoga Alliance RCYT program
Yoga Alliance RCYT program

The RCYT designation from Yoga Alliance stands for the designation as a registered children’s yoga teacher. This training program typically lasts at least 95-hours and provides a specialty certification in teaching yoga to kids. Some of the subjects in this training certification include childhood developmental stages, yoga techniques for children, teaching methodology, anatomy, yoga philosophy, and practicum.

But it is important to note that you cannot register with Yoga Alliance as an RCYT until you have completed the 200-hour yoga teacher training certification because this level of certification is the foundation for becoming a yoga teacher.

RPYT – Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training Certification

Yoga Alliance RPYT program
Yoga Alliance RPYT program

The RPYT designation from Yoga Alliance stands for the designation as a registered prenatal yoga teacher. This training program typically lasts at least 85-hours and provides a specialty certification in teaching yoga to pregnant people.

Some of the subjects included in this training certification include the process of pregnancy, the relationship between a yoga teacher and healthcare professionals, yoga techniques for pregnancy in each trimester, teaching methodology, anatomy, philosophy, and practicum.

Like the RCYT designation, you cannot register with Yoga Alliance as a prenatal yoga teacher without first completing a 200-hour yoga teacher training course.

Continuing Education Specialty Training Certification

Beyond the above specific training designations, you can get many specialty certifications and continuing education program certifications after completing your 200-hour teacher training program. These specialty courses range from specific yoga styles to advanced anatomy, advanced philosophy, and any other subject related to yoga.

If you choose to register as a yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance, every teacher must complete 30-hours of additional training every three years. So, this opens the door to many exciting possibilities to specialize as a yoga teacher and continue to grow your skills!

What is Yoga Alliance?

Yoga Alliance website
Yoga Alliance website

All of the above regulations on yoga teacher certification programs are set by Yoga Alliance. Yoga Alliance is a non-profit organization that sets the standards for yoga teacher training programs, and it also runs a registry for yoga teachers and schools.

But it is important to note that Yoga Alliance does not accredit or supervise teacher training programs; it is only a registration system that sets training standards for yoga teachers and training schools and serves as a listing site.

Yoga Alliance is based in the United States, so it primarily applies to the United States-based yoga teachers and schools. Although people worldwide still use Yoga Alliance, there are other organizations related to yoga teacher certifications, such as Yoga Alliance Professionals (UK), Yoga Australia, International Association of Yoga Therapists, and the Association of Yoga Professionals.

Not all yoga teacher training programs are registered with Yoga Alliance, and registration with Yoga Alliance also does not necessarily indicate anything about the quality of the teacher or the school. Many studios, gyms, and businesses often do not require this registration, so many teachers choose not to do so, but that is a personal choice that every teacher should research and decide on their own.

What is the Highest Level of Yoga Instructor Certification?

Under the standards set by the Yoga Alliance, the highest level of yoga instructor certification is 500-hours. An additional designation called E-RYT 500 indicates a yoga teacher with a 500-hour teacher training certification and an additional 2,000-hours of teaching experience.

Many yoga students ask – is RYT 500 worth it? Each person will certainly make the choice that is best for them. But having this additional depth of training can add so much to your career as a yoga teacher and help you stand out from the crowd as someone with more expertise. It can also improve the chances of being hired and the pay rate at some studios and gyms.

Is It Worth It to Become a Certified Yoga Teacher?

Becoming a certified yoga teacher can open many opportunities for you if you choose to become a yoga teacher. Additionally, yoga is a vast subject, and it is essential to get guidance from a qualified teacher as you step into this vital role.

Whether or not you register with Yoga Alliance may be less critical. But undergoing a training program is essential. In traditional yoga practice in India, there were no certification programs, and instead, a student would apprentice under the teacher in the “Gurukul” system for many years.

In modern times, this is not always possible, and teacher training certification programs are an excellent way to learn yoga practices and gain the skills you need to start the journey of a lifetime!

At the end of the day, certification is just a piece of paper, and the actual test for a yoga teacher comes through their skills and experience in their own practice and in guiding others.

What is the Best Yoga Instructor Certification?

There are thousands of yoga teacher training certification programs nowadays, so it is even more important to do your due diligence and find the right program for you! The range of quality of a training program can significantly vary.

Additionally, there are many different lineages and styles of yoga that you may prefer. A good way to genuinely discover the best yoga instructor certification is to ask your favorite yoga teachers, visit some local studios, or pursue training from some famous yoga lineages such as Iyengar yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Kripalu yoga, Integral yoga, or the Krishnamacharya lineage.

Only you can discover the best yoga instructor certification for yourself because each person is different. Therefore the path they choose to follow as a yoga teacher will also be different.

So, get ready for the journey of a lifetime and ultimately for a journey towards your true self!

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