"It's never too late to become what we could have been," George Eliot

In the UK, there are up to 1 million yoga practitioners. As you may know, yoga is a discipline synonymous with a healthy lifestyle; a life that you too could take part in. Each year, hundreds of yoga enthusiasts, particularly those who have adopted the yogic lifestyle take steps to become a yoga teacher. But did they all take yoga certification courses before they got there? No, they didn't have to. The UK does not regulate the practice of yoga, nor the teaching of it. Therefore, anyone can claim to be a master of yoga. However, not all yogis are equal. What are the options for teaching yoga without a diploma? Superprof explores every aspect in this article.

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Why Yoga Certification is Unnecessary

You might think the answer to that poorly formulated question is 'because there's no law calling for any.' - and you'd be only partly right. The main reason regulating yoga is so difficult is because the discipline is so very broad. First off, consider the many types of yoga:

  • Hatha
  • Bikram
  • Hot yoga - closely related to Bikram
  • Vinyasa
  • Kundalini
  • Iyengar
  • Anurasa
  • Sivananda
  • Ananda - despite their name similarity, this type of yoga is related to Kriya yoga, not Sivananda
  • Strala

By no means is this list inclusive. Indeed, we could continue to list types of yoga until the page blurs before your eyes but you probably get the point we're making: with so many different types of yoga, how can you certify one yoga teacher to teach specific types of yoga without completely bogging down the bureaucracy? Learn to teach English online jobs here.

Perform yoga in a unique way to find students
Teaching yoga has no limits! However, it's important to make your fellow yogis want to come to your class... (Source: Pixabay)

Should we certify a yoga teacher for, say, White Lotus yoga but not for Hatha yoga - one of the most fundamental styles of yoga? Should a yoga teacher be able to teach Vinyasa yoga without a Flow yoga certification? After all, this type of yoga is often called Vinyasa flow because they are so similar Would there be additional certification required for pranayama - a yogic breathing practice? Should we certify rehabilitative yoga and corrective yoga teachers only if they also have a physical therapist's license? And, for that matter, should prenatal yoga teachers all be obstetricians? Sorting through the many types of yoga to determine where to draw the line between needed certification - perhaps for the more vigorous yoga styles and no certification needed for, say, the likes of Hatha yoga and other fundamental styles is equally impossible. It would take someone who knows and has experienced every style of yoga to know which ones pose a risk of injury and which are fundamentally safe. Yes, you read that right: people can sustain injuries in yoga class... which begs the question: should yoga teachers be required to have an up-to-date first aid certification, at least?

Being certified to render aid is an excellent idea, as is submitting to a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, so attaining both of these certifications is helpful to establishing your legitimacy and credibility as an instructor. After all, the more legitimate you prove yourself to be, the more you'll gain prospective clients' trust... even if you haven't been to India and studied under a famous guru. Check out teach English online jobs here.

What Kind of Training is Needed to Teach Yoga?

Yoga literally translates to "unite" and "connect". Becoming an instructor or taking training to teach yoga cannot be improvised. In general, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have at least two years of yoga practice behind you
  • Demonstrate the desire to continue lifelong improvement and learning

Yoga does not meet any governmental requirements for official scrutiny; each school or association is free to set its own admission rules for teachers. Moreover, there are some places in which no yoga instructor certification is required. Some regional and neighbourhood associations accept regular practitioners of yoga as instructors, especially if they've been regular attendees at that particular yoga studio. Also, some yoga schools, especially in regions where it is difficult to find teachers gladly 'promote' ardent yogis to yoga class leaders. Becoming a yoga instructor depends on your status at the studio. For instance, if you are employed by them, you must be formally trained and hold credentials. Conversely, if you volunteer to lead yoga classes - and you're deemed sufficiently knowledgeable, you're not required to provide credentials. And if you're self-employed, your service contracts do not have to feature any guarantee of training or teaching credentials - but it is a good idea to have them. Practising or being taught yoga can happen at any time and at any age. Teaching yoga has nearly the same limitlessness; you do have to be over 18 to give yoga lessons... but the world's oldest yoga teacher, Tao Porchon-Lynch still gives yoga lessons at 99 years of age.

Yoga Teacher Training

Taking yoga classes or workshops in India can give you valuable teaching experience.
Training, even without obtaining a degree, begins with the transmission of knowledge, in many different locations! (Source: Pixabay)

Teaching a yoga class demands you blend theory and practice. As experience can substitute for formal training, you could flow into different asanas without knowing the spiritual theory behind them and present your students a sequence of postures without knowing anything about anatomy and physiology. However, yoga training is always beneficial, particularly if you take courses taught by certified trainers, alongside a physical trainer Level certification - something we'll talk more in-depth about a bit later. You could also train as a yoga instructor by taking a yoga teacher training classes abroad. Depending on  which type(s) of yoga you prefer to practise and which one(s) you can see yourself teaching, you may consider taking yoga teacher training in Bali or India. In either country, the practice of yoga has a long history that ties in with those cultures' spiritual beliefs as well as religious traditions. Training in a yoga centre or yoga school allows you to:

  • Deepen your cultural and linguistic knowledge by learning to read Sanskrit
  • Expand your knowledge of this ancient Indian practice
  • Learn about different styles of yoga
  • Master pranayama - breathing and focus
  • Guide your students to deepen their awareness of their physical and spiritual self
  • Develop techniques to teach different styles of yoga

If your interest lies solely in leading yoga classes, you might seek out a training course that covers pranayama, as well as meditation and mantra chanting. Such a course would also cover asanas and sutras, how to use yoga blocks and other props and sketch out the basics of yoga anatomy and physiology. At the other end of the spectrum, if you desire to become a guru - and have the necessary skills and understanding of the yogic lifestyle, you should take advanced yoga teacher training courses that include everything taught in the basic teachers' courses, as well as learning about advanced yoga asanas and mudra practice. You will also learn about advanced techniques for chakra alignment and naturopathy. Such yoga instructor courses may be long training courses in specialized schools. One syllabus we found was spread out over 200 class hours - around 10 weeks, and that was only for 'entry level' teacher training. That yoga teacher school's more expansive course extended over 500 hours! Some courses last between 2 and 5 years. They could put a serious dent in your wallet - to say nothing about how being away for so long might derail your life altogether. If you too worry about that, consider a few short courses and/or workshops consisting of intensive learning sessions in specific aspects of the discipline. Successful completion of a long course yields a diploma recognized by the Yoga Alliance, a worldwide organization responsible for training. Participation in a short course results in a certificate of aptitude, especially for specialized yoga courses such as prenatal yoga, senior yoga, flow yoga and others. Find some more tutoring jobs London here.

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Establishing a Yoga Business Without a Diploma

So far, we've ascertained that it is entirely possible to teach yoga without any formal training or certification. Indeed, your students will be more impressed by your experience and knowledge of yoga, and your enthusiasm, more than by graduating from a certain training. To wit, the salary of an uncertified yoga teacher is not so different than salaries of certified instructors. Across the UK and on Superprof, a yoga instructor's average salary is £27.5 per hour. You might earn more if you can show that you have:

  • practical internship with confirmed yoga masters
  • an internship abroad, including yoga classes in India
  • regular practice of many aspects of yoga (yoga and meditation, breathing)
  • experience with private tutoring to differing students (children's yoga, corrective yoga...)

As a freelance yoga teacher with such credentials, you're free to set your own schedule and teach any style of yoga you'd like. You might want to lead Iyengar yoga group classes on Monday, Kundalini yoga sessions on Tuesday, Private Hatha yoga sessions on Wednesday and then, spend the rest of the week making instructional videos on pranayama, meditation and discussing how yoga can lead to better physical and mental health. My Superprof yoga teacher had no special training or yoga teaching diploma. While discussing his experiences with yoga, including his internship at Parmath Niketan ashram in India, I asked him: "Where did you train?" He replied, "At the school of life". His was the perfect answer, completely in tune with yoga philosophy. But then, the Superprof  is filled with such masters; it excels in creating jobs for ex-teachers. Find out how you can join the wave...

All types of yoga classes from a yoga studio will increase your knowledge
Transmitting your passion for yoga can be done in many ways, starting with yoga classes (Source: Pixabay)

Independent and Complementary Yoga Styles

Having a speciality is one of the best ways to distinguish you from other yoga teachers. This continuing education in yoga not only demonstrates your willingness to learn more about yoga techniques in the UK and abroad, it will encourage more students to take your yoga classes. You can choose a speciality - anything from prenatal and postnatal yoga to yoga for kids, yoga for seniors, corrective yoga in conjunction with physical therapy and rehabilitation... Or you can choose a specific yoga style to focus your classes on. Hatha yoga is a set repetition of 26 asanas, good for beginner adults, kids and seniors. Vinyasa yoga, also called flow yoga because the asanas flow into one another, is often mistaken for Power yoga because they are both fairly vigorous workouts. Speaking of vigorous... Hot yoga, practised in a studio where the temperature and humidity are purposely kept high, is an excellent way to sweat out toxins and burn fat. Naturally, this style of yoga is more intense than Iyengar yoga, wherein the focus is precision of movement and perfection of form. A yoga teacher is not only the class leader calling out asanas, they are also spiritual guides who instructs yoga disciples in aspects of everyday life. If you want to teach yoga, even without a diploma, it is important to consider the guidance aspect of teaching yoga. You can get an idea of how such guidance takes place during your yoga internships abroad: even if you do not get a certificate of training or attendance, you will gain experience which, in itself, is a valuable inclusion on your yoga teacher

Start a Yoga Practice Without Any Certifications

A trip to India, the birthplace of the yogic culture, or to other countries with millions of yoga practitioners is a good way to improve your yoga teaching skills, even if you don't earn a certificate for your efforts. Through these constant forays into the yoga lifestyle and discipline, you'll find that your spiritual and emotional life becomes grounded in several fundamentally yogic techniques, from breathing exercises to postures that help you maintain flexibility. In that sense, yoga teachers are very happy that training is not limited to only one aspect of yoga, or that only one style of yoga could be the path towards helping others achieve wellness. Since yoga promotes self-awareness and positive thinking, you'll soon find yourself living a yogic life, even without any credentials to teach yoga. Which begs the question: Can you teach yoga and still be a student at another yoga studio? This is possible because yoga teacher training is continuous. You could, for example, teach yoga nidra - the best for relaxation, but seek to specialize in yoga pranayama to strengthen your knowledge of yoga relaxation techniques. There are many amazing yoga teachers to learn from; your continuous exploration and practice of yoga could make you one, too.

Become a Mindfulness Coach

Before COVID ended office life as we knew it, mindfulness was the hot, new buzzword. Suddenly, instead of excellent communicators and critical thinkers, HR departments were screening job candidates' CVs for any mention of mindfulness. What is mindfulness, anyway? In a nutshell, mindfulness is being fully present in the moment. It means being consciously aware of what is going on, inside and outside of you, at every moment. Mindfulness devotees aver that becoming more mindful means paying attention to even the small things: the taste and texture of our food, the feel of a cold beverage sliding down our throats and the wind caressing our skin. It means recognising and naming your feelings and giving them credence. It means slowing down your inner noise to address the thoughts crowding your mind. Or, conversely, it means switching off the 'autopilot' so many of us function on - commute to work, do our jobs, eat, clean up and go to bed and, instead, revelling in the fact that we are privileged to have these experiences, mundane as they are. When you think of it, doesn't mindfulness sound quite a bit like the philosophy that underpins yoga?

Learn from the masters by taking training abroad
Doing a yoga training abroad or joining a yoga retreat is a good way to progress as a meditation teacher (Source: Pixabay

Mindfulness meditation is another aspect of mindfulness that mirrors its more ancient model. Either practice calls for sitting quietly, focusing on your breath and the various sensations in your body. You may even focus your thoughts by quietly chanting, just as you might during yogic meditation. Whether we'll ever return to office life as it was pre-COVID is still up for debate; right now, things could go either way. And if office life is uncertain, how are things looking for yoga studios? If you're having difficulties attracting clients to your studio, you could still teach the principles of yoga as a mindfulness coach. That would be a fine way to advertise your yoga classes and could get you started in bringing people to the yoga lifestyle. Granted, as a mindfulness coach, it's not likely you'll be guiding your clients through any asanas but you'll be doing what really matters as a yoga devotee: teaching people to lean into healthier living.

Certifying as a Fitness Professional

The first segment of this article discussed the impossibility of certifying yoga instructors because of the sheer variety of yoga styles and the lack of anyone knowledgeable in all styles to know when yoga is being done correctly in every case. As a footnote, we close with a possible solution to the yoga instructor certification dilemma: what about Level 2 and Level 3 Certificates? In the UK and in many other countries, fitness trainers of all types have to pass some sort of competency board to gain certification to lead others' fitness endeavours, particularly if they want to earn money doing so. Believe it or not, that includes football and basketball coaches. That's because football and basketball coaches teach their players how to play, strategize and coordinate with other players. Their qualification stages, Levels one through four, mirror those for other fitness trainers. The Level 2 fitness trainer qualification entitles you to lead fitness classes in a gym setting, while the higher-level certificate qualifies you as a personal trainer. Arguably, yoga could fall under both of those categories - yoga is often taught in a group setting and in one-to-one sessions. And yoga is indeed a fitness discipline. However, yoga is more than an exercise routine to get and keep fit. It is a complete lifestyle overhaul that may include nutritional and dietary guidelines and a complete rethink of how to do life. When you think of yoga in those terms, a Level 2 fitness trainer qualification hardly broaches the subject, does it? On the other hand, if your goal is simply to make yoga accessible to more people - without giving them specific nutritional information or providing them with dietary guidelines, such a certificate adds gravitas to your enterprise. And you can always direct your students to recommended reading material and encourage them to consult with a dietician. The latter tip would actually be more valuable, especially if they tell you that they wish to change their eating habits. As we've said throughout this article, you don't necessarily have to have any qualifications to teach yoga... but it is a good idea to at least obtain these general credentials. For one, you'll learn more about the principles of fitness and health so that you can better explain to your students the role yoga can play in improving their conditioning. Also, such a certification can boost your credibility, especially if you want to work with clients one-to-one.

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Krishna

Writer with an enthusiasm to learn more about SEO.