How To Become a Yoga Instructor (In-Person or Online), According to a Yoga Instructor

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Hey! I’m Angelica. I know you read my name in the byline but I need to reintroduce myself as the other half of my Hannah Montana life (aside from a writer) for this story. So… Hey! I’m Angelica the yoga instructor and you’re watching Disney Channel. Okay, you’re not, but you are reading this post in hopes of becoming a yoga instructor, so let’s dive in.

Before I tell you how to become a yoga instructor, I’m going to share a bit about myself. I’ve been teaching yoga since 2016—vinyasa and yin are my bread and butter. Fun fact: I taught a variety of dance styles for years before that. (Yes, I’ve lived several lives at this point.)

Currently, outside of writing, I’m still teaching around New York City and online. Where? Y7 Studio, Form+Flow, HealHaus, Core by Hyperice, and OMstars, to name a few places.

As someone who’s taught both full time and part time, I’ve experienced many corners of the yoga teaching world and am excited to share with you how you can get started on your own yoga teaching journey.

So from a yoga teacher (me), here’s an overview of how you can become a yoga teacher.

Types of yoga teaching certifications

To start off, you’re going to need a 200-hour certification. Most of the time, these programs (like ISSA or Y7—we'll get into that in a bit) help teachers eventually lead a vinyasa yoga class. In layman's terms, vinyasa yoga is a series of poses connected by a flow and breath. One familiar flow is the sun salutation sequence, flowing from plank to upward dog and downward dog.

Other common 200-hour certification programs are based in Ashtanga yoga and hot yoga (like Bikram yoga).

In the average 200-hour program, you won’t just learn how to teach. Modules around yogic philosophy, ethics, and anatomy are woven into the 200-hour certification.

Pro-tip: Don’t just stop at the 200-hour certificate. You can take continuing education modules—which are typically 25 to 50 hours—that specialize in a particular area of yoga. Some examples include prenatal, postnatal, restorative yoga, meditation, and extended philosophy-based training. These additional hours help you diversify what you teach so that you can land more classes and clients.


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How to find a yoga school

How do you even obtain a yoga certification? You have to attend a yoga school (in person or online), preferably backed by the Yoga Alliance.

You can think of the Yoga Alliance as sort of the FDA of the yoga space. Every school registered with the Yoga Alliance has to agree to a number of guidelines, set by the organization, around ethics and topics in the coursework. So, when you’re looking for a school to attend, search for the Yoga Alliance logo or view the organization’s directory to see if the school you're interested in is on the list.

Yoga teacher requirements

While every certified yoga instructor needs a 200-hour certificate, depending on where you teach, you’re gonna need two more things: yoga teaching insurance and a profile with the Yoga Alliance.

Yoga teaching insurance

Depending on the company you sign with, yoga teaching insurance can cover supplies, a website, and legal fees in case of a lawsuit—like if a student gets injured at your studio and tries to take legal action against you. Yoga insurance is sometimes voluntary but, especially for smaller companies, it’s a requirement for individual teachers to not only have insurance, but to add the company their teaching for onto their insurance. Depending on whether or not you're teaching part time or full time and where you're located, yoga teaching insurance can cost (on average) between $120-$300 annually.

For example, I have NACAMS yoga insurance. During the past two summers I’ve taught classes in Hudson Yards with the Hudson Yards Hell’s Kitchen Alliance, and in order to teach I’ve had to add the alliance to my insurance for a small additional fee.

Yoga Alliance profile

As for a profile with the Yoga Alliance, do you need it to teach? No. But, it does help land certain jobs. Like if a larger studio wants to hire you, they might look to see if you’re certified by the Yoga Alliance to make sure you align with the organization’s standards. To create a profile with the Yoga Alliance, you must first complete a 200-hour program with a school that is registered with the organization (aka a Registered Yoga School). Once you receive your certificate, here's what you need to do:

  1. Save a digital copy (or take a picture if you have a physical certificate).
  2. Go to the Yoga Alliance website and click the register button on the homepage.
  3. Create your account and continue to follow the prompts to submit an application to become a registered yoga teacher. Note: This process will include submitting a digital copy of your certificate.
  4. Once accepted, you'll need to pay your application and first year of registration fees: which will add up to $115, per the Yoga Alliance site.
  5. Then, follow the prompts to complete your profile where you can include your photo, website, and how many hours you've taught (if you've taught at all between receiving your certificate and applying for a Yoga Alliance profile). And ta-da. You have a profile as a teacher with the yoga alliance!
Plus, if along the way you have additional questions about the process, the Yoga Alliance has a help website where you can poke around 10 articles on the application process.

In my opinion, it matters more that you go to a school that’s registered with the Yoga Alliance because there are scammers out there who will just try to take your money and have no credibility themselves. So, to save you time and a headache, it’s best to go through a vetted Yoga Alliance school. And when someone asks where you got certified, you can show them that the school you went has the proper credentials.

Extra pro-tip: Build a website. Outside of your social media, your site is an easy way for potential clients to find you and find out when you’re teaching. You can also upload videos of classes that you’ve recorded or even set up your own on-demand business!

How to get a job as a yoga teacher

There are a few ways to land your first job as a yoga instructor. The most common way (in my professional opinion) is to teach at the studio where you trained if spots are available. Some studios will have what is called a community class which is essentially a low-cost or donation-based class where newer teachers can lead classes. Other times, more formal apprenticeships are set up where, after you earn your 200-hour certification, you can teach a number of classes for free (or at a lower rate) before being added full-time.

Now, let’s say your training wasn’t connected to a specific studio or you live somewhere different from your current studio, here are some common ways to start teaching:

Host classes in a public space

You can start a summer series in a nearby park or partner with a local community center.

Rent a studio to teach in

Some spaces will let you rent their studio space by the hour, and you can charge what you’d like to cover the cost of the rental and still pay yourself.

Start live-streaming classes

The internet is powerful tool, so definitely take advantage of it! Start live-streaming classes on Instagram or TikTok and ask your friends to join. That way, they can practice from the comfort of their homes and you can get honest feedback from loved ones.


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How much can yoga instructors make?

There are several factors that go into how much you can make as a yoga instructor: where you teach, how often you teach, and what partnerships you have. As an instructor in New York City, there are a smattering of studios across the five boroughs—meaning more opportunities to teach.

In the beginning of my yoga teaching journey, after a 25-hour unpaid apprenticeship, I was paid $35 a class and taught about four times a week. At the height of my full-time teaching career I was leading about 12 to 20 classes a week and was paid anywhere from $65 to about $125 for an in-studio class, depending on the gig. And that doesn’t include the private classes I taught. So, yes, I earned a full-time salary on teaching alone.

Now the thing is, while those numbers might be appealing, know that as a freelancer you’ll have to pay for your own insurance (personal and yoga-related), taxes, supplies, and regular bills: rent, phone, food, etc. And, when you don’t work, you don’t get paid—unless you have other streams of income.

Remember that note about partnerships? Yeah, that’s what will help you out when you aren’t physically teaching. Aside from having pre-recorded classes available online, partnering with businesses in the wellness space as a brand ambassador—think Athleta, Lululemon, BYoga, etc.—is a great way to keep your cash flow going while you vacate your usual stomping grounds.

Best 200-hour certification classes

So now that you have a basic understanding of what becoming a yoga instructor entails, it’s time to find a certification course. Before we dive into this list, know that it’s nowhere near finite. Across the world, there are so many schools that are registered with the Yoga Alliance, so feel free to use the organization’s directory to find one near you—and get teaching.

Best New Program: ISSA

ISSA’s 200-hour program is the newest offering from the personal training experts. The Yoga Alliance-certified course includes teachings on the history of yoga, anatomy of yoga asanas (postures), techniques for cueing and structuring classes, and so much more. This course is virtual with live weekly sessions—and if you miss a session, you can make up the class by watching the video on demand. Upon completion of the program you’ll receive your 200-hour certification so you can start teaching.

Cost: $1,188 (or $99/month). A 12-month payment plan is available.

Yoga Alliance-certified? Yes

Best for Developing Your Public Speaking Skills: Y7

Known for its music-driven, free-flowing vinyasa style, Y7 Studio (backed by the Yoga Alliance) offers a 200-hour certification program that can be done virtually or via hybrid online/in-person format available for those in the New York City area. Along with the usual assortment of coursework, Y7 aids students in finding their voice in the teaching space. Plus, there are a limited number of scholarships available each session specifically for those who are a member of the BIPOC community.

Cost: $2,900, with scholarships available.

Yoga Alliance-certified? Yes

Best for Accountability: Pure Yoga

Pure Yoga’s 200-hour program offers students the opportunity to learn about the history of yoga, anatomy, sequencing, and various styles of yoga with a fellow “accountability partner” to help you see the eight-week live online program through to the end, per the studio’s website.

Cost: Pricing starts at $3,300 (for Pure Yoga or Equinox members)

Yoga Alliance-certified? Yes

Best for Aerial Yoga: OM factory

OM Factory is probably most well known for their in-person aerial yoga classes, but did you know that you can earn your 200-hour certificate with the silk-wielding team? Now you do. Along with the aforementioned anatomy and philosophy modules, OM Factory also offers pre- and postnatal as a part of its coursework. Best of all, once you complete the 200-hour program, you can sign up for the 50-hour aerial training so you can also teach students how to practice yoga in midair.

Cost: Varies—email the studio for pricing.

Yoga Alliance-certified? Yes

Best Self-Paced Training: YogaRenew

YogaRenew offers students the full package when it comes to teacher training. Over the course of the program, you’ll learn the basics of asanas (postures), pranayama (breath), meditation, anatomy, and business. That way when you leave the program you’ll be ready to enter the professional side of the industry with ease. To enroll in this Yoga Alliance-approved course you’ll need your yoga mat, computer, and $1,637.

Cost: $1,637

Yoga Alliance-certified? Yes

Best Program Led By a Master: Dharma Yoga

Sri Dharma Mittra is truly a master of yoga. Your favorite teacher’s teacher has probably heard of him, if not taken a class from him. Since the 1960s, the master of advanced postures has informed students on how to teach, along with the fundamentals of how to live peacefully. His school’s 200-hour program is available both in-person and online. In order to qualify you must have taken at least 50 hours of his school’s classes (in-person or online).

Cost: The total cost for tuition is $4,145. Financial assistance is available.

Yoga Alliance-certified? Yes

Best Alumni Network: Yoga Works

With over 15,000 alumni, Yoga Works has a large community to support you once you’ve completed the Yoga Alliance-approved program. The established brand hosts its programs in-person and online throughout the year—depending on the instructor(s).

Cost: Yoga Work’s upcoming summer 2023 200-hour program starts at $2,900.

Yoga Alliance-certified? Yes

Best International Programs: Sivananda International Trainings

Sivananda International Trainings are held globally and truly immerse a student in the training process. From sunrise to sunset, expect to practice with seasoned pros while dining on a vegetarian meal plan throughout the day. At night you’ll retire at your dorm to prepare for the following day ahead. With sessions in the Bahamas, Vietnam, and many countries in between, browse the website to find out when a training is being held near you.

Cost: Program tuition generally starts around $2,400 depending on the location and dorm fees.

Yoga Alliance-certified? Yes

Best In-Person: Kripalu

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Kripalu. Located in Stockbridge, MA, Kripalu, the home to many beloved yoga instructors, offers a 200-hour program that incorporates anatomy, asana, pranayama, and philosophy teachings with modules on how to bring the teachings of yoga with you off of the mat. While the center offers online programs on occasion, the in-person experience allows for students to truly delve into the practice of developing your inner teacher.

Cost: Tuition generally starts around $2,800, plus meals and accommodations.

Yoga Alliance-certified? Yes

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