The Yoga Alliance is a non-profit organization that registers yoga teachers and yoga schools in the United States. Yoga Alliance registration is not legally required to teach yoga in the United States; however, registration is often pursued to lend credibility to teaching credentials (www.yogaalliance.org). The organization offers three levels of registration for yoga teachers, including Registered Yoga Teacher (200-hour), Registered Yoga Teacher (500-hour) and Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher. Blended formats are available for some programs. Some parts of the program must be done in person including meeting the minimum number of contact hours, practice teaching, on-site training, and on-site practice.
Registered Yoga Teacher (200-Hour)
Teacher training programs at the 200-hour level are not available entirely via distance education due to the Yoga Alliance contact hour guidelines, which require 180 contact hours; of these, students must conduct a minimum of ten practice teaching hours. Students may conduct the remaining 20 hours through at-home writing assignments. These programs may be completed in a 30-day format or over a period of months at universities and private yoga schools, and graduates receive a 200-hour certificate of completion.
Topics include study of the following:
- Physical yogic postures (asana)
- Breathing work (pranayama)
- Yogic philosophy
- Prenatal yoga
- Yogic anatomy
- Manual adjustments
Registered Yoga Teacher (500-hour)
Upon successful completion of a 200-hour certificate course, students may pursue the 300-hour training program, which leads to qualification for registry with the Yoga Alliance at the 500-hour level. These programs are generally on-site programs, and students must complete 30 hours of supervised classroom teaching. Some schools offer the 300-hour program through a mix of distance education and on-site training.
Program formats for schools offering a distance education module include 1-2 week on-site training periods and independent study. During off-site periods, students complete reading and writing assignments, communicate with teachers via mail or e-mail and participate in online discussions. Most 300-hour certificate programs range in length from six months to three years, and upon completion, graduates receive a 300-hour certificate of completion.
This program expands on topics covered in the 200-hour course, such as asana and sequencing. Other study topics include the following:
- Therapeutic applications
- Teaching ethics
- Business practice
- Advanced manual adjustments
Texts explored vary, but may include the following:
- The Bhagavad Gita
- The Ramayana
- Trailguide to the Body
- Yoga Anatomy
- Patanjali's Yoga Sutras
Advanced Teacher Training
Longer programs, designed for in-depth study of yoga practice and teaching, may also be partially completed via distance education. These programs consist of intensive on-site practice periods and independent study, composed of personal practice, writing assignments and e-mail communication with teachers. Such programs offer up to 2,000 hours of training and may be used to gain Yoga Alliance teacher registration and continuing education credit. Participants also complete an apprenticeship with a master teacher.
Topics vary, but often expand on 500-hour program coursework and include the following:
- Subtle body
- Interior body locks (bhandas)
- Symbolic hand gestures (mudras)
- Advanced nutrition
- Advanced therapeutics
- Ayurvedic principles
- Hindu cultural history
- The Vedas
- The Upanishads
- Studies of Krishnamacharya
Yoga students can complete yoga teacher training mostly online with some on-site training and practice. These programs are made possible through the Yoga Alliance and are available at three different levels, Registered Yoga Teacher (200-hour), Registered Yoga Teacher (500-hour) and Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher.