As a yoga teacher, I get asked questions by my students about teaching yoga. One of the most frequent questions I get asked is, “Can I teach yoga without a certification?”
If you are like these students, I will answer this question and all the information you need to know about yoga teacher certificates and teaching without them.
Can You Teach Yoga Without a Certification?
Let’s go straight to the point, yes! You can teach yoga without getting a certification. Most states do not require it from yoga teachers, so you are not bound by the law.
Ancient yoga gurus didn’t have fancy certificates, nor an RYT-200 or RYT-500 after their names. Instead, most of them became teachers when their yoga teachers decided to train them to teach.
As for myself, I taught my first yoga class to my sister and mother without a certification. After five years of practice, I thought I was ready for it. I guided them how my yoga teachers guided me—just like the ancient yoga teachers did.
What is a Yoga Teacher Certification?
A yoga teacher certification is a piece of paper that proves you finished a Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) program. You will receive this certificate from your yoga school. It varies depending on how many hours the program is and the style of yoga.
An introductory yoga teacher training course is 200 hours, which means you will be spending 200 hours of intensive training. Next to this is the 300-hour course. Once you have a 200-hour and 300-hour Yoga Teacher Training certification, this is when your designation will be a 500-hour Certified Yoga Teacher.
A YTT certification also varies depending on the style of yoga you want to teach. For example, there is 200-hour Vinyasa Yoga, 200-hour Ashtanga Vinyasa, and more. Once you have a 200-hour YTT for a particular style of yoga, you can get a certificate for another style by taking Continuing Education Training, such as a 95-hour Kids YTT program.
Should You Teach Yoga Without a Certification?
As I have mentioned, I taught yoga without a certificate to my mom and sister. But after a while, I thought my knowledge about yoga and teaching methodologies was lacking. So, I decided to become a certified yoga instructor by taking a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training course.
If you are serious about teaching yoga, you should not teach without a certification. I got away without one because I was teaching my family, and the classes were for free. If you plan on teaching more than just your family and get paid to do it, you should invest in a YTT course to get certified.
Moreover, most students and studios require their teachers to have a Yoga Teacher Certification at the least. Some need you to be registered with Yoga Alliance.
The Perks of a Yoga Teacher Certification
While you can teach without a yoga teacher certification, I suggest you get one. That is because of the perks that you will get just by attending a yoga teacher training course. Here are some of them:
You Will Learn More
You will learn more about yoga and teaching it in a Yoga Teacher Training Certification (TTC) program. Without certification, you will most likely rely on how your yoga teachers have guided you in the yoga classes you’ve attended.
But when you get the certification program, you will learn more about yourself, yoga asanas, philosophy, and teaching yoga. In short, you will have more in-depth knowledge about yoga and how to teach it to different types of students.
You Will Create a Network
In a Yoga TTC program, you will meet new people who want to become yoga teachers, if not yoga teachers already. It’s a good way for you to network and find new opportunities for your yoga teaching career.
You Will Improve Your Personal Practice
In the YTTs I have attended, my teacher trainers always tell us not to forget about our personal practice when we start teaching. Your personal practice should come first before you begin teaching. If you don’t have a solid yoga practice, how can you teach that to other people?
In your Yoga TTC course, you will improve your practice by learning more about your form and alignment, new ways to enter a pose, different types of pranayamas, and how to teach all of these to various types of learners.
What is Yoga Alliance?
Yoga Alliance (YA) is a non-profit entity that registers certified yoga teachers and yoga schools. It is the most recognized yoga organization in the world. Yoga Alliance doesn’t train yoga teachers but recommends educational standards to yoga teachers, studios, and schools to ensure credibility.
To register with Yoga Alliance, you need to follow and submit the necessary eligibility requirements and pay the membership fee. The basic requirement is to have a Yoga Teacher Training Certificate from a Registered Yoga School. Then, as a member, you get to have the RYT200, RYT500 or E-RTY200, and E-RTY500 after your name.
Should You Register with Yoga Alliance?
This topic is very controversial in the yoga community. I am not a Registered Yoga Teacher and not a member of YA for reasons that require you to pay registration fees for listing your name. In addition, they don’t verify if the teaching hours you logged in their system are true or not.
They also don’t confirm if the schools that offer YTT programs follow their educational training standards during the training. Furthermore, you can teach yoga without it depending on the studio and location.
The Benefits of Becoming a Yoga Alliance Member
Yes, you can teach yoga even if you are not a Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance. Many yoga studios and students do not require it. But being one comes with benefits:
Yoga Alliance offers free online workshops to its members. They also offer yoga teacher training scholarships to eligible individuals.
Membership in Yoga Alliance as a Registered Yoga Teacher gives you discounts on yoga products and services from various brands and organizations.
Some yoga studios and gyms require their yoga teachers to be a member of Yoga Alliance. They think you are more credible when you have it. Some students also feel the same way.
Disadvantages of Teaching Yoga Without a Certification
As you can see, you can teach yoga without certification and registration with Yoga Alliance. But it comes with disadvantages:
Some Studios Will Not Hire You
Because some yoga studios require their yoga instructors to be either certified or Registered Yoga Teachers, you will have fewer opportunities than those who have either of those.
Some Students Will Not Come to Your Class
If you manage to get a job as a yoga teacher without certification or registration with Yoga Alliance, kudos to you. The next thing you need to work is finding students who will regularly come to your class. If you don’t have a certificate, students may not come to your class.
In addition, experienced yogis who may be certified yoga instructors or Registered Yoga Teachers themselves may not attend your class. These yogis look for teachers who have more experience than them.
Ways to Teach Yoga Without a Certification
You can teach yoga without certification and become a member of the YA, but you need to work harder and smarter. You have fewer opportunities than registered and certified yoga instructors, so you have to make your own. There are some ways you can do that successfully:
Be Your Own Boss
You don’t have to work at a yoga studio or gym to be a yoga teacher. You can be your own boss. You can start as a freelancer offering yoga classes to people in their homes, at the park, at the beach, and even online. Or you can start your yoga studio or provide yoga classes in a spare room at home. By doing it this way, you get to call the shots.
Build a Brand
I followed a yoga teacher on social media for many years and practiced with her yoga videos on YouTube. However, it was only recently that I found out she is not a 500-hour Certified Yoga Teacher because she posted about going to her 300-hour YTT location. For years, I thought she had all the credentials, at least 1,000 hours of training under her belt.
She excelled at what she was doing—training yogis to become teachers and to teach yoga to students who only want to deepen their personal practice. She was an expert, even without a certificate. Her tips on practicing asanas safely, pranayamas, and meditation, are substantial and easy to comprehend. She built her brand around that.
As you can see, you can be an expert and build a brand around that without having a certification. Start a professional website and social media that show you are a yoga teacher. Collaborate with other yoga teachers and students and write and speak about yoga.
Never Stop Learning
Never stop learning about yoga and how to teach it. Learn about yoga philosophy, yoga asanas, and different types of learners. You can learn it from books, blogs, webinars, and more. You don’t have to attend a YTT to know all of these. Practice different styles of yoga from other teachers.
How Can Yoga Students Trust a Teacher Without a Certification?
Trust is earned. Once you start your yoga teaching career, you will find out that most students will not even ask to see your certification. Instead, most of them will come to your yoga class out of curiosity or the need to exercise or relax.
Wherever they find you and your classes, whether social media or ads in streets, earn their trust by highlighting them or their needs instead of yourself doing advanced asanas, then, show your real personality on your website or social media.
Once they come to your class, always keep in mind the Yamas and Niyamas. Then, always give them space to talk and to ask questions. It’s the same when you’re making physical adjustments. Ask your students first if they want to be physically adjusted or not. A certificate doesn’t instantly say they can trust you. You have to earn their trust by building a relationship with them.
Teaching yoga without a certificate is possible. However, if you have the time and money to do it, I suggest getting a Yoga Teacher Training certification. It adds more credibility. But also, always remember that it’s just a piece of paper. It’s useless if you don’t use it and you don’t learn more.