Although there is no single over-arching organization that can claim authority over yoga practitioners all over the world, there are national and regional organizations that can take on something of the same role if you are interested in teaching yoga. Such organizations can either provide you with the training needed to teach yoga or help you find a recognized school to do the same. Furthermore, such organizations can also offer you recognition of your ability to teach as represented in their respective certifications.
You do not need certification from such an organization if you want to become a yoga teacher, but it'll help you get on your way and open up doors that were previously inaccessible. Depending on the organization that you approach and its reputation among yoga practitioners, a certification can not only confirm for you that you have the expertise to teach yoga but also demonstrate that fact to others.
Finding the Right Organization
Before you begin, you'll need to find the appropriate yoga organization in your nation or local region. Common methods for finding such organizations include using a search engine to look up such organizations or simply speaking to local yoga teachers. Not only are teachers and other more established practitioners the people who are most likely to know about local yoga organizations, but they are also the people who are best placed to understand the pros and cons of each option. In a field as disunited as the practice of yoga, getting member reviews straight from the source is even more useful than usual in making a purchase.
In the United States, the yoga organization of note is probably the Yoga Alliance. This organization formed in 1999 after incorporating both of its predecessors, Unity in Yoga and Ad Hoc Yoga Alliance. From Unity in Yoga, the Yoga Alliance picked up the practice of sponsoring and running both national and international conferences for yoga practitioners.
The Yoga Alliance
Similarly, from the Ad Hoc Yoga Alliance, the Yoga Alliance took over its duties of establishing minimal standards for yoga teachers. Appropriately for its name, the Yoga Alliance is an inclusive organization that supports a range of styles and practitioners. Its membership encompasses not only practitioners living and teaching in the United States, but also practitioners located in countries across the world.
Although the Yoga Alliance does not offer a certification program, it does permit both teachers and schools to register and receive its recognition once certain educational and teaching standards have been met. Multiple tiers of recognition exist, with people in the higher tiers being permitted to take on more responsibilities in schools and programs registered with the Yoga Alliance. For the most part, there is little practical difference between teachers registered with the Yoga Alliance and experts who have received certification in other fields.
Getting the Needed Schooling
Most organizations that either offer certification programs or recognize trained practitioners like the Yoga Alliance maintain a feature that can point you towards a list of schools and other institutions that can help you get the training you need to pass their standards for recognition. For the Yoga Alliance, this feature is a search engine that can be used to find either its Registered Yoga Teachers (RYT) or its Registered Yoga Schools (RYS). You can use the Yoga Alliance's drop-down menus to find teachers and schools using their geographic location, their style of yoga, their teaching specialties, and even their language of instruction.
Finding the right RYT or RYS is important if you want to become a yoga teacher because only their graduates will be able to register with the Yoga Alliance and receive the designation of RYT. Although this designation is not a certificate, it does confer something of the same respect and acknowledgement among practitioners.
At a minimum, you'll need 200 hours of instruction from a RYS to become a RYT 200. A more advanced designation called the RYT 500 requires 500 hours of instruction plus 100 hours of teaching yoga after the recipient graduates from the training program for a RYT 200. At least 300 of those hours of instruction must come from a teacher registered at a tier that is qualified to teach yoga to individuals who have completed their RYT 200 training.
More advanced designations called the E-RYT 200 and E-RYT 500 also exist, with the E standing for Experienced. You need 200 hours of instruction to become a E-RYT 200 plus 1,000 teaching hours accrued after completing RYT 200 training. In contrast, you'll need 500 hours of instruction under a teacher with the right designation plus 1,500 teaching hours accrued after completing RYT 200 training and 500 teaching hours accrued after completing RYT 500 training. Other, more specialized designations also exist, but these are the most prominent and recognized designations.
Although you do not need these designations to be able to teach yoga, you do get more recognition if you do so. Furthermore, registering with the Yoga Alliance enables you to teach in its registered schools. Each successive ranking enables you to take on more and more important roles in these schools. For example, only a E-RYT 500 can serve as the primary instructor in programs offering RYT 500 training to students.
Getting Registered As a Yoga Teacher
Once you've completed your training, simply go to the Yoga Alliance website and register for an online account. Fill in your personal identification information, choose the designation that you are registering for, upload an electronic copy of your proof of graduation from your program of study, fill in your teaching hours if necessary, and then make the required payment for registration.
Of course, registering as a RYT with the Yoga Alliance is not the end of your quest to teach yoga. You'll still need to either convince an educational institution to take you on as an instructor or if you are more independently minded, set up your own yoga class and find your own students. Furthermore, remember that simply receiving your certification to teach yoga does not mean that your education in its practice is complete, only that you've learned enough to begin helping others practice the same. You'll become a more complete individual if you remember that life is continuous education.