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Is a 200-hour yoga teacher training enough to teach yoga?

by Arundhati Baitmangalkar

Is 200-hour yoga teacher training enough to teach yoga today? I’ve been asking myself that question for the past decade. More so, after the pandemic, pushed yoga teacher training online almost overnight. Let’s take an in-depth look into the pros & cons of a 200-hour yoga teacher training. Answering a very important and fundamental question – is it enough to teach yoga today? So let’s jump in.

What is a 200 hour yoga teacher training program?

A 200-hour yoga teacher training (commonly known as ytt) is a course where interested yoga students sign up to study yoga in depth. The 200-hour model is a standard set by Yoga Alliance. Almost 2 decades ago in North America. Essentially, Yoga Alliance is an accreditation body. An online directory of sorts. They try to provide some standardization guidelines to teacher training programs in the western world. Along with other services. But there are loopholes in how they operate. Which we’ll talk about another time.

A 200-hour yoga teacher training is considered to be the main entry point if you want to become a yoga teacher nowadays. At least here in North America. You want to approach a 200-hour as foundational or beginner yoga teacher training.

A studio offers a YTT for many reasons. Many yoga studios offer YTTs because they’re seen as a cash influx. An average yoga teacher training can cost anywhere from $3000 to $4500. Most yoga studios will attempt to ‘pack the room’ with little care or consideration to the life cycle of the yoga student in these training.

Just because your neighborhood studio offers yoga teacher training doesn’t mean it’s legit or that the teachers are qualified. Don’t think of just convenience alone when enrolling for a YTT. There are great yoga schools and then some.

In short, any school wanting to offer YTTs can optionally apply to get a RYS accreditation with Yoga Alliance. Essentially this means every studio and yoga teacher associated with the trainings pays yearly dues to YA to be a part of this online directory. (I pay annually upwards of $700/year in YA membership fees for my studio to be RYS accredited)

Once you comply with the (can be better) syllabus guidelines & meet a few basic requirements. The yoga studios are on their own. Yoga Alliance doesn’t do much that directly impacts the everyday yoga teacher trainer and yoga student. I’ll share more another time about YA if you’re interested.

Is this the only way to become a yoga teacher?

The short answer is no. There are other ways to become a yoga teacher. Many schools aren’t associated with YA. Many traditional lineages in India don’t follow this western model of YTT. To date, I know teachers in India who don’t care about YA.

But the long answer requires a pause. Especially if you live in North America like I do. Most of the yoga industry that offers YTTs adheres to this 200-hour standard. Even those schools that aren’t members of Yoga Alliance. Because without this basic 200-hour entry point. It won’t be long before yoga studios start offering weekend YTTs and certifications to become professional yoga teachers in a matter of hours or days. Much like Zumba, Barre, HIIT training or dance.

These YTTs were originally created to meet the demand for yoga rising in the gyms and fitness industry a couple of decades ago. While the 200-hour criteria are flawed and are barely enough to make you a yoga teacher. Think of it as a start point to studying yoga in the modern-day context.

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Is a 200-hour yoga teacher training enough to become a yoga teacher?

What should you learn in a 200-hour yoga teacher training?

There’s a lot you can learn in a 200-hour YTT. But it depends completely on the caliber of the teacher/s and the students enrolled in the course. Traditionally, yoga was taught very differently. Something, I’ve spoken about numerous times on my podcast. So I won’t get into it here. Depending on the skill and proficiency of the teacher and student. A lot can be learned and executed during a TT. But learning yoga is not a linear process. This needs to be kept in mind.

The pros of a 200-hour yoga teacher training…

Without this basic 200 hour standard. My fear is that the yoga industry will open up to weekend-long, YTT gimmicks. Where under-qualified individuals will start to offer YTT making it completely a fitness thing with no regard for its cultural roots. So with 200 hours being the “entry point”, it keeps all the weekend training at bay. Which I think is a blessing. Or we’d see 20 hours of “become a yoga teacher” kinda trainings pop up overnight all over the globe.

The cons of a 200-hour yoga teacher training…

In the grand yoga scheme of things, these hours mean nothing. Every student will learn differently. Every teacher’s caliber is different. Most 200 YTTs have scope for going wide. But not deep. Read that again. Recognizing this is important. A 200 hour TT sets the stage and gives context to the basics of yoga. But it’s hardly enough to establish one as a yoga teacher. I would say it’s a start. But you’d definitely need more than just a 200-hour YTT to feel fully qualified.

The new approach post-2021

If your exposure to asana & yoga is new & limited. A 200 hour may serve you well. Provided you find the right one. It can give you a glimpse into the yoga world to gauge your own interest, capacity, and ambition.

But know that you will need supplemental training after a 200-hour YTT. I’ll be writing another post on how to structure your yoga studies soon. I’ll link that here when its published.

Meanwhile, if you enjoy reading blogs like this. Then you’d LOVE my weekly yoga podcast. It’s called Let’s Talk Yoga. Listen wherever you stream your podcasts. Just search for Let’s Talk Yoga, subscribe, and get listening.

If you’re keen to explore my winter 2022 yoga training course, click here.

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