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How do I choose which Yoga Certification is right for me? By: Ericka Kelly

Updated: Mar 13, 2020

This is the question I’m asked the most from students and peers. A fair question, yet complex answer, so allow me to explain why you may want to lean towards one over another … 

First you must determine what your end goal is with your training, and know that it’s OK if it changes!

I fell into my first 200hr from working at a yoga studio that offered me a generous scholarship, at that time I was more interested in learning how to make my personal practice safer (transitions, strength etc). I didn’t know if I was going to teach but once I started, my teachers and I realized it came quite natural to me.

The simplest question to ask yourself is

Whether you want to teach versus if you’re primarily looking to gain more personal knowledge of the practice.

If your answer is that you’d like to lead classes, then you should consider looking for at least a 200HR Yoga Alliance (YA) accredited course. Most states require instructors to have received 200 hours of education prior to leading public classes. I’ve gone through two extensive 200+hr trainings and several smaller programs that equate to a 500+hr certification. All included a basic theoretical, physical, and mental foundation. While I personally have never registered myself on YA and have been fortunate to teach wherever I choose, I did however ensure that all of my trainings were YA certified in case I ever wanted or found it necessary to. There are many opinions on YA, far too many for this blog post but I disagree with annually taking so much money from teachers who generally are doing this out of compassion.

Here’s a bit of intel -

Generally speaking you have to teach A LOT of yoga to make sufficient income from it. Not only is this because you get better with the more bodies you work with, but also that for a new teacher at a studio the average pay rate is often no more than $30 per class. That piece of info may lead you to decide that a career is not what you desire. If this is the case or you already feel as though your training is intended for personal growth then this next portion is for you.

If you’re decision is leaning towards looking to enhance your personal knowledge and practice then the options expand a bit. In the western world there are a variety of directions to explore under the yoga umbrella, we like to make a hybrid out of everything and our yoga comes no different. Many courses offer weekend or month long workshops anywhere from 10-75hrs  that will expand on specific styles of yoga (prenatal, trauma release, kids yoga, inversions, meditation etc). From here it’s up to you to decipher which sect is for you.

Determine what type of schedule and workload you’re most comfortable operating in. If there isn’t a course you’re interested in happening locally, consider traveling if accessible and affordable for you. This is a great way to expand your yoga community beyond your backyard. Always do your research on the facility as well as the instructor, and perhaps even reach out to students that you know have studied under said person or school before. 

Lastly, keep an OPEN MIND.

Go into your training with no expectations, be open to receive and be present as much as you can during your course to avoid getting a watered down makeup version of what you missed. Know that it’s going to be a rollercoaster of emotions from start to finish but that’s the beauty of the practice. You’ll be nervous, excited, confident, confused, and so much more. What’s great is that through those feelings you’ll learn your personal patterns, and in turn gain more self awareness. Take your time in deciding and know that once you start, your relationship with it will evolve. I started teaching Hot Vinyasa Yoga and over the last 7 years have since transitioned into a restorative practice based in Iyengar.

There is no wrong choice as long as it aligns with your current ambitions. I thank you for your interest on this sacred path, if more people did yoga the world would be a better place!

-Ericka Kelly, RYT 500

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