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Navigating the world of professional certification and training options, alongside other dispatches from the new global workplace.

Yoga Teacher Certifications: The Yoga Allinace

Monday 18 November 2013

There are a few organizations out there offering certifications for yoga teachers, but the Yoga Alliance seems to be the dominant force in the field.  However, the Yoga Alliance offers few if any courses itself.  In order to earn a certification, you have to take a course, usually involving at least 200 contact hours (or, if you are particularly serious, you could go for a 500 hour class!) from a registered training program.  There is not a unified "final exam," however - it seems that you earn the Registered Yoga Teacher credential as long as you participate in the coursework to the satisfaction of the training program.  And, the Registered Yoga Teacher seems to be accepted by most studios as a sufficient credential to begin teaching one's own courses.  What's particularly interesting to me about YA's registered training programs is that many of them are not in the United States, but rather in faraway holiday resorts.  For example, their website lists 15 approved training providers in Costa Rica.  I'm not sure if the extent of offshore training is more of a reflection of the mentality of the profession or a factor of the lower cost of training in developing countries, but if you are truly ready to leap head-first into this new occupation (and incur some sunk costs that may commit you to starting your own practice when you return), why not go offshore?  

The Yoga Alliance is a US based organization, but has various national affiliates, and seems to permit cross-national mobility on the part of its certifyees.  Yet, one should be forewarned that the field is not as lucrative as it might seem from the perspective of someone who pays $20 to sit in a hot, crowed room with twenty other yoga students.  Overhead eats dramatically into the costs associated with a yoga practice, and even full-time professional instructors may only have a few courses each week.  Many combine yoga instruction with other semi-professional pursuits (or semi-retirement) in order to make ends meet - or offer yoga as part of a portfolio of various fitness-related training and courses.  And, relatively low barriers combined with a huge upswell in public interest in the field combine to make yoga instruction a very competitive occupational space.  The YA still has much work to do to increase public understanding of its credentials, and it's still quite possible to get started in the field with other types of certificates (or no credentials at all).  So, do your homework and think carefully about whether yoga certification is right for you! 


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