Is It Illegal To Teach Yoga Without A Certification?

Millions of people worldwide practice yoga regularly to better themselves in body and mind. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts a 13% job growth rate for yoga instructors between 2018 and 2028, which is much higher than many other positions. With the demand rising, many folks are stepping up to the plate, obtaining their certifications in the practice they love. 

However, some folks teach but don’t have a certification. While this may raise alarm bells in your mind, it doesn’t necessarily need to. The yoga community is highly unregulated in the United States, so instructors aren’t required to obtain certification, license, or training. That said, there are a few things you should know, so continue reading to learn more!

What Is Needed To Teach Yoga?

In the grand scheme of things, you don’t necessarily need anything to teach yoga. You could roll out a mat in your living room and walk your mom or grandpa through a yoga flow. You don’t technically need anything – a studio, license, certification, training, or anything else. 

However, if you want to make teaching yoga a full-time gig, you’ll need a few things. While you don’t necessarily need certification, licenses, or training, most yoga studios won’t hire you without one. So, here’s what yoga teachers need to do to reach teacher status:

Learn The Practice

For most folks, the urge to become a yoga instructor stems from their passionate interest in the practice. So, most people start learning yoga by themselves, carefully building their skills and understanding through trial and error. 

Maybe they attend classes religiously, or perhaps they practice from the comfort of their own home, following online flows. This is typically where people find the yoga type they prefer, whether it’s vinyasa, Hatha, ashtanga, Bikram, or something else. 

Once they find a style they like, they begin building their foundation of knowledge. Sometimes, individuals will ask their current yoga teacher to act as a mentor to guide them through the practice and help send them in the right direction. 

Get Trained

After countless hours spent learning the practice, the next step is an official yoga teacher training course. Generally, individuals choose from the list of registered yoga schools that abide by the guidelines set by the Yoga Alliance. Once they select a school, they enroll in a teacher training program. 

These programs are typically offered at two different levels. The first option is a 200-hour certification program; the second is more than doubled at 500 hours. The programs incorporate work in physiology, yoga philosophy, anatomy, and instructional techniques to give students an inside look at yoga and its functions.

Aside from the training course, some individuals choose to pursue a certification in a specialty area. For example, you might decide to become certified as a prenatal yoga teacher. It depends on what you enjoy teaching and what groups you prefer to work with. 

Obtain Registration

While getting registered as a yoga teacher isn’t mandatory, many folks decide to go the extra mile. The registered yoga teacher certification is internationally recognized as a credential that proves you’ve met the minimum training standards outlined by the Yoga Alliance. 

To obtain your registered yoga teacher (RYT) certification, you must complete the training course (at least at the 200-hour level) and pay a $50 application fee. On top of that, you’ll pay your $65 annual dues and an extra $50 application fee to upgrade your certification to specialty designations. 

First Aid Training

Generally, teaching in a health or fitness center means you need to be CPR certified. So, before getting a job as a yoga teacher, you need to obtain your cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification. 

Obtaining this certification helps ensure you’re prepared to help with basic skills in the event of a health emergency in your class. 

Choose How You Teach

Before you start teaching, you’ll select how you want to teach. Some folks focus their classes on specific groups, while others hold their classes in select locations. If you target a niche market, ensure you have the skills and understanding necessary to reach this audience. 

Start Teaching

With everything above completed, you’re ready to start teaching yoga classes on your own. Some folks decide to start slow, offering yoga classes to coworkers, friends, and family. On the other hand, others might seek a position in a local yoga studio, gym, or fitness facility, where they can regularly offer classes. 

Either way, you’re ready to start teaching! Once you begin teaching, you’ll need to complete continuing education coursework and pay your annual dues as necessary to maintain your certification. You might need continuing education or renewal coursework to keep your CPR certification. 

Is Yoga Regulated In The US?

Yoga isn’t regulated in the USA at all, by any stretch of the imagination (no pun intended). Any individual can build a studio and start leading classes, regardless of whether they’re certified, registered, or licensed as a teacher. 

While this can be excellent for individuals who want to start teaching but can’t get certified, registered, or licensed, it can also be less than ideal. The problem lies in the fact there aren’t necessarily any requirements. Any random person could start a yoga studio without knowing how to instruct a class safely. 

Yoga is a journey with your body and mind, forcing you to dig deeper and challenge yourself mentally and physically. You could potentially injure yourself without the proper understanding of body anatomy and how each move affects the muscle group. 

So, it’s essential to find a knowledgeable individual to teach you. That said, becoming self-taught is entirely doable. It takes hours upon hours of learning to understand how certain moves affect your body, but it’s possible with the resources available today. 

The main concern with the lack of regulation is the potential for untrained and unknowledgeable individuals to lead people through a class without understanding how to move through each flow correctly. 

What Legal Requirements Do I Need To Meet For Teaching Yoga?

Due to the lack of regulation surrounding yoga teaching, anyone can call themselves a yoga teacher, even if they don’t have any education or experience. From a legal aspect, there aren’t any legal requirements you need to meet to teach yoga. 

Specific organizations have stepped up to the plate to uphold specific standards surrounding yoga teaching in their country, implementing particular safety and ethics guidelines. However, while these organizations do exist, they aren’t considered the law in the US, so there aren’t necessarily any requirements for teaching yoga. 

This organization is known as the Yoga Alliance US in the United States. This organization is the biggest and most well-known organization regulating the yoga community, so many local alliances are registered with the Yoga Alliance US.

The organization sets alliance standards individually, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all standard guideline. Some alliances follow standards based on specific ideas and motivations, so they may look considerably different than those of another alliance. 

Do Yoga Teachers Need Insurance?

Many yoga teachers work as freelancers or entrepreneurs, so they fly solo. While insurance rules vary from country to country, it doesn’t hurt to have insurance. Liability insurance is a significant consideration, especially considering the field. For example, here are a few reasons to obtain liability insurance:

  • Yoga teachers work with various people who may be at risk of injury.
  • Liability insurances protect the teacher from the financial risk of a lawsuit or other legal process resulting from an incident. 
  • Some insurance plans may protect you from damage done while working in the studio, gym, or at an alternate location. 

Liability insurance is a standard go-to across the board, as many professions require coverage against lawsuits and other legal processes. This is something yoga teachers should consider, even if they decide against other insurances. 

If you decide to obtain liability insurance for your yoga practice, there are a few ways to get it. Some yoga alliances offer collective liability insurance for yoga teacher members, so this is one option. On the other hand, you could get your own (business) liability insurance utterly independent of any yoga alliance. 

The independent option may be more money-wise in the grand scheme of things, but the choice is ultimately up to you. 

Is It Bad If My Yoga Teacher Isn’t Registered?

The Yoga Alliance US (and many other yoga alliances) are relatively new to the scene. Due to the relative newness, many experienced and renowned yoga teachers aren’t registered with an alliance. The lack of registration doesn’t make the teacher any less qualified, so it isn’t bad that your yoga teacher doesn’t have one. 

A self-taught yoga teacher with thousands of hours of experience is probably your better option than a certified yoga teacher with a minimum of 200 hours of experience. That said, a certification, registration, or license doesn’t necessarily make any individual more or less qualified. 

You should seek a yoga teacher who is experienced in their craft and with the knowledge necessary to safely lead you through your preferred style of yoga.