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Ask A Yogi: Do I Need to Be an RYT 200 to Teach Yoga?

Teaching Yoga | Yoga

You're thinking about becoming a yoga teacher and you've heard that the RYT 200 is the gold-standard for teaching. Is this a hard and fast rule for teaching yoga or are there other options? Do you really need to be an RYT 200 to teach yoga in today's world?

Read on for the various factors to consider as you prepare to make your dream of becoming a yoga teacher a reality.

What is the RYT 200?

RYT stands for Registered Yoga Teacher and the RYT 200 is one of the designations offered by Yoga Alliance, one of yoga's leading professional agencies. The requirements for the RYT 200 are based on hours and content (e.g. RYT 200 yoga teacher training programs must offer 20 hours of anatomy training).

Studios submit their yoga teacher training (YTT) curriculum for approval to Yoga Alliance, students complete the approved RYT 200 training, and then students are eligible to register as an RYT 200 with Yoga Alliance. The current initial registration and application fee to become an RYT 200 is $105 with a $50 annual renewal fee.

Tip: Visit the Yoga Alliance website and review the RYT 200 credentialing requirements. 

Do You NEED to be an RYT 200 to teach?

One of the factors to consider when deciding on whether you need to become an RYT 200 is where you'll be teaching. Teaching location is key.

Certain gyms and studios require that all of their teachers have completed an RYT 200 designated program and that teachers have registered as RYT 200 with Yoga Alliance. If you are planning to teach classes at home or at a studio that doesn't require RYT 200 status, then the designation is less of a factor.

If you aren't sure where you'll teach after you complete your training, it's best to complete an RYT200-approved training program. Even if you don't ultimately decide to register with Yoga Alliance, you'll have kept your options open.

Tip: Contact local yoga studios or gyms and ask about their requirements for teachers, and speak to local yoga teachers as well to get leads on possible teaching jobs and whether they are required to be RYT 200 where they teach.

Responsibility to Your Students

Many students are drawn to yoga, not because they are in prime physical and emotional condition, but because they are dealing with challenges. As yoga teachers, we have a great responsibility to our students.

Being an RYT 200-approved program doesn't guarantee that the yoga teacher training is a high-quality program, but it's certainly a step in the right direction. There are also probably teacher training programs that are not RYT 200-approved, but are still high-quality.

Students would need to carefully research these programs to make sure that their curriculum is solid. Making sure that the yoga teacher training program you choose is important to your future, but it's also important to your future students who will be putting their trust in you as their teacher.

What are your long-term goals?

In addition to the RYT 200, Yoga Alliance now offers E-RYT 200 (experienced yoga teacher) and RYT 500 (students who earn this have completed 500 hours of training). I've even heard of some schools offering their own 1000-hour trainings.

Do you plan to own your own studio in the future? Do you think you'd like to teach in a teacher training program? If so, you might want to build upon the RYT 200. Again, if you aren't sure, it makes sense to keep your options open.

Tip: Take a moment to meditate or journal on your future as a yoga teacher. Envision yourself in one year, five years, and ten years. Where do you see yourself?

My Experience

One of my most beloved teachers studied yoga for decades with an individual teacher in the days before Yoga Alliance even existed. Again, it's important to remember that completing an RYT 200 program and registering for RYT 200 status are not requirements for being a great yoga teacher. However, in our modern era, it makes sense to keep your options open and have an RYT 200 under your belt.

I recently graduated from an RYT 200-approved yoga teacher training program. However, since that time, I have not registered with Yoga Alliance because the actual registration cost of $105 outweighed the benefits for me. I'm not required to have it where I teach, I carry teacher's insurance through a separate agency, and I have graduated from the RYT 200-approved program with the associated skills and knowledge. Right now, there's no reason for me to register with Yoga Alliance.

I am glad, however, that I have the option to register as RYT 200 in the future if the need arises. This yogi's advice: research multiple yoga teacher training programs, speak to former graduates, and unless there's a compelling reason not to, choose an RYT 200 approved program.

Fellow yogis: chime in. Did you attend an RYT 200 approved YTT? Are you registered as an RYT 200 with Yoga Alliance?

Image credit: Odette Hughes

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