Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
Last year, 14,700 new yoga teachers registered with Yoga Alliance, thanks to increased interest and a growing number of teacher trainings. But are all of these newly trained teachers well qualified? Experienced yoga instructors weigh in.
“Many teacher trainings are so rudimentary that, at best, they churn out beginning instructors. In what other field could you be deemed prepared to teach after just 200 hours of training? Our collective expectation of what constitutes “yoga” today is so low that anyone willing to lead something resembling a yoga class is considered a teacher. To be an actual teacher requires years of training, study, and meaningful contact with a teacher of real consequence and expertise.” —Rod Stryker, Founder of ParaYoga, author, and international yoga teacher, Carbondale, Colorado
“I’ve seen many people come through teacher trainings who can safely and effectively teach a good asana class. It’s good that so many people are becoming instructors because it spreads yoga to those who may not otherwise have found it. However, even a 500-hour training is not enough for someone to become skilled in leading others through the full scope of yoga.” —Ben McLellan, Owner of Underground Studios and Momentum Coaching, Watertown, Massachusetts
“It can be easy to get a teaching certificate, but that is not a guarantee that a student will become a good teacher or even get a job. The market is saturated with studios, schools, gyms, and other venues for yoga, but many classes are not full and teachers are struggling to make a living. Unfortunately, gyms and studios are looking at class popularity in order to hire, and not investing in newer teachers. This leaves new teachers without a lot of guidance; they often cave to commercial pressure and end up teaching more fitness-oriented yoga classes than traditional asana.” —Maty Ezraty, Founder of YogaWorks and international yoga teacher, Hamakua Coast, Hawaii
“The fundamentals of the physical aspects of yoga can be easy to learn and teach. Some yoga teacher training programs thrive on this mentality. However, bringing life to the roots and subtler aspects of the practices—as well as continuously living the deeper aspects of yoga—requires a teacher training program of greater duration, and one that places greater demands on one’s intellect and dedication. While gaining the title of “yoga teacher” may look easy, integrating and developing the material and becoming a credible teacher take time, dedication, and hard work.” —Kristen Townsend, MA, Yoga teacher and longtime assistant to Shiva Rea, Frederick, Maryland
“The fact that so many people are completing teacher trainings doesn’t mean they’re too easy. To us, any perception that a teacher is not properly trained is troublesome, which is why our programs for teacher training are so vital to the industry. Once new teachers register with us, they become part of our social-credentialing feedback system, which combines our standards with ratings from the yoga community.” —Barbara Dobberthien, COO, Yoga Alliance Registry, Arlington, Virginia