Is it your lifelong dream to become a yoga instructor? If yes, what stops you from becoming one? If your answer is money, you are not alone.
When I realized I wanted to become a yoga teacher, I quickly opened my laptop to do a Google search on becoming a yoga teacher. Thousands of links to Yoga Teacher Training programs appeared in just a few seconds. I was ebullient. It was like opening Christmas gifts.
But as I opened each link, I felt despair. I couldn’t afford it. So, I asked my yoga community how to become a yoga instructor for free (or cheaper).
Signing up for a Yoga Teacher Training program can be one of the most transformative decisions you can make in your life. However, many yogis don’t want to embark on this journey because of one reason—the lack of funds.
A Yoga Teacher Training course costs $1,000 to $3,000. It can cost more depending on the location, the style of yoga, the lead trainer, and the studio or school offering it. Programs that are led by famous yoga gurus are more expensive than others. Typically, the cost doesn’t cover the accommodation, books, props, and extracurricular activities you may be doing during the YTT.
It is expensive. But I’ll let you in on a bit of a secret that my yoga instructors have shared with me so that I could afford my Yoga Teacher Training.
Become a YTT Scholar
Many yoga schools now offer scholarships to deserving yogis who want to enroll in their Yoga Teacher Training programs. Some of these schools provide full scholarship grants that cover the fees to the course, course manual, admin fees, accommodation, meals, and expenses. But some only cover the course fees.
The requirements to apply for a YTT program scholarship vary depending on the yoga school and the organization offering the scholarship program. Here are some schools that offer scholarships to yogis who want to take a YTT course.
Sadhana Yoga offers scholarships and grants to aspiring yoga instructors. They offer up to 25% off the tuition fee based on the financial need of the applicant. If you are from Vermont, where Sadhana Yoga is located, you can also apply to get a Vermont non-degree grant from the Vermont Student Assistance Group.
Vermonters can get funding that will cover the entire cost of a non-degree course, including YTT programs offered by Sadhana Yoga. To learn more about this grant, you can visit this link.
Lighthouse Yoga School
Lighthouse Yoga School aims to make YTT accessible to everyone, especially those in dire need of financial assistance. They offer two positions for qualified applicants per training. The scholarships they offer are in three tiers: Diamond, Gold, and Silver.
The Diamond Scholarship grants $100 tuition for a 100-hour JM Vinyasa Foundations Online Training, $300 tuition for 200 hours, and $500 for 300 hours. The Gold Scholarship grants $600 tuition for a 100-hour JM Vinyasa Foundations Online Training, $800 tuition for 200 hours, and $1500 for 300 hours. The Silver Scholarship grants $800 tuition for a 100-hour JM Vinyasa Foundations Online Training, $1200 tuition for 200 hours, and $2500 for 300 hours.
To apply for the scholarship, you must pay the processing fee of $30 and submit your application here.
Tula Yoga BIPOC Yoga Teacher Training Scholarship
Tula Yoga offers a BIPOC Yoga Teacher Training scholarship for black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). It is only a partial scholarship, which gives you a 50% discount on their program, which costs $1500. To apply for the scholarship, you need to meet the following requirements:
- To be a self-identified person of color
- To have a regular yoga practice
- To attend all dates of the training
- To teach yoga after completing the program
- To complete the application
Once you submit your application, Tula Yoga will review it. They will notify you of an in-person interview if you are one of the finalists. Once accepted for the scholarship grant, you will need to sign an agreement with them.
Yoga Garden SF
Yoga Garden SF also offers full scholarships to black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). That means it is completely free. However, they only award one scholarship per calendar year. It is still great, though, because Yoga Garden SF YTT programs include various styles of yoga, such as Kids and Teens Teacher Training, Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training, Yoga Sculpt Teacher Training, and a 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training.
To apply for the scholarship, you need to be a person of color and to have practiced yoga for six months before taking the training. Submit your application here.
Rishiguna Yogashala is a yoga school in Goa, India that offers 100-hour, 200-hour, and 300-hour YTT courses. They also offer yoga retreats and holidays around the world. To help yogis with financial restraints who want to become yoga instructors, they provide scholarships for their 200-hour YTT.
It is open to anyone from any background, ethnicity, and yoga experience. It is a full scholarship that includes the fee for the course, study materials, t-shirts, yoga kits, excursions, meals, and accommodation during the 28-day stay. You may learn about this scholarship here.
Work Exchange Program
If you did not or can’t get a scholarship, another way to become a yoga instructor for free is to apply for a work exchange program. Many work exchange programs are not entirely free. It means you have to work in exchange for being admitted to YTT. Here are some yoga schools that offer work exchange programs.
School Yoga Institute
The School Yoga Institute offers YTT and continuing education programs through in-person and online platforms. They provide scholarships to black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and members of marginalized communities.
The School Yoga Institute offers opportunities to get a YTT certificate in exchange for your particular skills and experiences. For each training, they award three work exchange scholarships and one internship position.
Here are the skills and tasks you can exchange for their training:
- Promotional Flyer Distribution
- Social Media Sharing
- Writing Blog Posts and Testimonials
- Graphic Design
- Event Assistance
- Pinterest Management
To learn more about the work exchange opportunities at School Yoga Institute, you may go here.
PachaMama Work Exchange Program
PachaMama offers both long-term and short-term work exchange programs. The short-term program lasts two months while the long-term lasts six to twelve months. Through these programs, yogis will participate in their YTT courses, workshops, and events.
You can work in their restaurant and bar, depending on your skills and interests. To be accepted for this work exchange program, you are required to have the following:
- Stay for a minimum of two months (which includes the time spent on training, workshops, and events)
- Work 25 hours a week
- Attend four meditations in the evening per week
- Participate in at least two PachaMama workshops
- Have your health insurance
In exchange for your hard work, PachaMama will grant you a 40% discount on their workshops, a 15% discount on their events, and free lunch or dinner, depending on how long you are staying. You are also free to join their daily yoga, meditation, Pilates, tai chi, dance, and other classes.
Accommodation is not free, but it is cheap. However, if you want to save more money, you can camp on their grounds.
Prana Shanti Education Center
Prana Shanti Education Center offers work exchange programs to deserving yogis who want to become yoga instructors for free. It is available to yoga teacher trainees whose annual income is less than $30,000 annually. The program covers the entire monetary cost of the YTT, but it excludes the cost of books and other training materials.
In exchange, you have to assist the lead trainer onsite during the course, prepare the training materials, facilities, and equipment, and correspond with students during and outside the YTT course. To apply for this work exchange program, go to this link.
SWDY Work Exchange Program
Sweet Water Dance Yoga offers work exchange programs to five yogis per term. This program grants you a 20% to 50% discount on the total cost of the YTT courses. As a work exchange student, you will need to work four hours a day, five days a week, for three months.
Types of work include social media marketing and management, front desk assistance, and studio maintenance. In case you want to extend your stay, you may apply for a 3-month extension. For more information regarding the work exchange program of Sweet Water Dance Yoga, you may go to their website.
Three and a Half Acres
Three and a Half Acres Trauma Yoga Teacher Training is another option to take if you want to become a yoga instructor for free. They offer volunteer work exchange to interested individuals. Volunteers will receive either half of the training cost or the complete cost.
For volunteers who will stay for six months, they will need to work for 26 hours within the duration of their stay. Volunteers who will stay for twelve months will need to do 52 hours of work. To apply for this work exchange program by Three and a Half Acres, go to this link.
Another way to become a yoga instructor for free is to raise money through crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a method of funding a venture or a project by raising money from people. It started as a way for entrepreneurs to raise capital for their business, but now, people are using it for all kinds of projects, including Yoga Teacher Training.
Many yogis and yoga teachers have successfully launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for their training and even yoga studios. If you choose this route to become a yoga instructor, here are six steps you can follow:
- Share Your Story. Stories are compelling. Share your story and the reason why you want to become a yoga instructor with your potential funders. Show them how you are passionate about becoming a yoga instructor. Also, include how becoming a yoga instructor can help them and the community.
- Offer Rewards. People like funding projects when they can get something out of the campaign. So, offer them something if they donate funds to your YTT course. Maybe free yoga classes once you are certified?
- Set a Funding Goal. Know how much you need for your YTT so you can set a funding goal. This way, you can ask for enough funds. If you exceed the goal, crowdfunding platforms will let you keep it.
- Promote Your Crowdfunding Campaign. Get the word out that you have a crowdfunding campaign for your YTT. Share it with your friends on social media, to your local yoga community, and to your friends and family. Even if they don’t donate, they might know someone who would like to.
- Give Funders Updates. As your campaign moves forward, keeping funders in the loop will drive more engagement to your campaign. They will continue sharing your campaign, which will help you get more funding. Also, transparency is perfect for building trust.
- Fulfill Your Promise. Once your campaign is over, fulfill your promise of using it for your YTT. Also, give them the reward you promised them. They gave you money to fund your dream, so they deserve to receive the compensation.
Crowdfunding campaigns can be a lot of work. But it’s a viable option to get funding for you to become a yoga instructor without paying for it.
Lack of funding is one reason why many yogis don’t pursue their dream of sharing their love for and knowledge of yoga with others by becoming yoga instructors. This doesn’t have to happen to you. With the options of a scholarship, work exchange programs, and crowdfunding, you can achieve your dream of becoming a yoga instructor.
These options may not be completely free as you still have to spend some money on travel expenses and accommodation. But becoming a yoga teacher is worth it.