Have you ever had an experience when you had an epiphany that you wanted to do something or to become someone out of nowhere? Maybe you attended a yoga class after a friend convinced you to come with her.
While you’re doing your second round of Sun Salutation, a voice inside your head was saying, “I want to be a yoga instructor.”
So, when you got home, you searched for “how to become a yoga instructor with no experience” on Google. Not every one of us has epiphanies like this. But the story above is the story of my yoga instructor.
It’s incredible how realizations can come to us out of the blue. But what struck me as my yoga instructor excitedly told me about her yoga teaching journey is that she didn’t have much experience with yoga before taking a Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) program. I thought it’s not possible. Well, it turns out, it’s possible.
In this article, I will share with you the steps on how you can become a yoga instructor even with no prior experience. Plus, I have tips on preparing for your YTT and what you need to know before signing up for the program.
What You Need to Know First
Being a yoga instructor is a rewarding journey. You get to do something you love while helping people accept themselves and make their lives better. But before you go and sign up for YTT, here are some things you need to know first.
You Don’t Have to Be an Advanced Yoga Practitioner
Many people think that as a yoga teacher, you should be able to do advanced poses like a Handstand. But you don’t have to be an expert in asanas (yoga postures) to become a yoga instructor. You only need to learn how to teach these poses effectively, so your students can do the poses.
After all, yoga is not just about postures. Many effective yoga teachers don’t demonstrate the poses in the class. They only cue and guide their students on how to do the poses. Moreover, most YTT programs do not require you to have years of experience to enroll.
You Don’t Have to Teach Right Away or At All
It’s a common misconception that the reason people take YTT is to teach yoga. Many people do it not because they want to become yoga instructors but because they want to deepen their knowledge of yoga. Sure, you will learn teaching methodologies in YTT, but it’s up to you if you’re going to teach yoga.
It’s also up to you if you want to teach yoga right away after graduation. If you don’t have the confidence to teach immediately after graduation yet, you can continue your personal practice. By doing this, you can improve your knowledge about yoga and your yoga teaching method.
Steps on How to Become a Yoga Instructor
Now that we’ve established that you don’t need to have the experience to become a yoga instructor, here are the steps you need to do to become one.
Decide on What Style of Yoga You Want to Teach
There are many styles of yoga out there. Ashtanga Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Yin Yoga, Viniyoga, Bikram Yoga—these are just some of your choices regarding yoga styles. Since you don’t have much experience, attend classes of different styles of yoga. Then, decide if it’s the style you want to teach.
Pick a Yoga School
Once you decide on the style of yoga you want to teach, it’s time to find the school. Find a school that is an RYS (Registered Yoga School) by Yoga Alliance. Most yoga studios and gyms look for Registered Yoga Teachers (RYT).
You wouldn’t be able to apply as an RYT if you didn’t go to a Registered Yoga School. While the law doesn’t require you to be an RYT to teach yoga, it’s still better to enroll at a school that is an RYS. This is because it means that a governing body assessed their curriculum, and the lead trainers of the school have years of experience in teaching yoga education.
Choose a 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training Program
You have a lot to choose from when it comes to 200-hour YTT programs. Here are the top features of most YTT programs that you need to decide on to pick the right one for you:
Online Program Vs. Face-to-Face
You will find online and face-to-face YTT courses. With the pandemic restrictions, online YTT programs are increasing, and it could be your only choice for now. But if you learn the best face to face, I suggest you wait for the course to be offered face to face.
Intensive vs. Weekend-Only Format
Another thing to decide on before you sign up for a YTT program is the program’s format. Should you enroll in an intensive or weekend-only program? Intensive 200-hour YTT programs usually last four weeks.
That means you will need to be studying yoga for 8 hours a day to complete 200 hours in a month and take a leave from work. If the school’s location is not close to you, you will need to travel every weekend.
For the weekend-only format, the classes are during the weekend, and you can still work on weekdays. Programs like this usually last 10–12 weekends. This YTT program is an excellent choice if you can’t take a leave from work. The downside is that you have to travel to and from school every weekend.
Complete a 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training Program
Once you decide what style of yoga you want to teach, the 200-hour YTT program format you want, and which school you would like to enroll in, it’s time to start taking the 200-Hour YTT program and complete it. This part is the most rigorous part of the process of becoming a yoga instructor.
How to Survive Your Yoga Teacher Training
A YTT course is physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging. There will be plenty of assessments, practice teaching, and class evaluation (your yoga class). So it would help if you prepared for it even before the start of the program. To help you survive your YTT program and become a yoga instructor, here are some tips for you:
Start Practicing Consistently
Experience is not a requirement to sign up for YTT. But to complete a YTT course, you will have to be practicing yoga day in and day out. In the YTT programs I attended, we practiced yoga twice a day—once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
These practices include asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing exercise), and meditation. During the class, we had to explore and practice yoga poses to study anatomy and alignment. Start practicing consistently before the program starts, so your body can take the time to adjust and prepare.
Start Reading More About Yoga
Some YTT programs require you to read certain books you will be using during class. But even if the course you enrolled in does not need you to do any prior reading, do it. You will become a yoga instructor, so it’s best to learn as much about the subject you are going to teach in the future.
I recommend reading Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Bhagavad Gita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and yoga anatomy books. Moreover, consume any yoga content you can find on the Internet.
Prepare Your Props
Props are your friends when it comes to yoga, especially if you’re still a beginner asana practitioner. Your range of motion and strength may still be limited. Props can help you build those.
You don’t have to bring the props to your school of choice. Most of these schools already have those. It’s for your personal practice. You should also get a solid yoga mat to bring to your YTT and to be used at home.
Eat, Drink, Sleep, Repeat
You are going to be studying to teach people to feel well. So, it would be best if you also felt well. Before the YTT starts, make sure you eat and drink healthy and sleep well. A YTT program can be physically, emotionally, and mentally draining so you must prepare for it.
Start by eating more veggies if you are not a vegetable eater. Most YTT programs, especially intensive YTT programs, have meals included, and they usually serve only vegan or vegetarian food. This way, your body will have time to transition to a new diet.
Find a Support System
Taking a YTT program is a significant change for you. Big changes are challenging, but it gets better if you have a support system that will cheer you on as it gets tricky. Tell your tribe about your plan and ask for the support you need.
To be a yoga instructor doesn’t mean you know all the ins and outs of yoga or that you have been practicing for years. You just need to finish your YTT. But to conclude that program, you must prepare physically, emotionally, and mentally.
You also need to continue studying yoga and how to teach it even after you have completed a YTT course.