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Top 11 Yoga Instructor Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top yoga instructor certifications available to help aspiring instructors advance their practice and knowledge.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications are important for a yoga instructor in the job market because they demonstrate a level of expertise and professionalism to potential employers. They can provide evidence that the individual has taken the necessary steps to become qualified in their field, which can help them stand out from other candidates in competitive positions. Additionally, certifications often come with continuing education requirements, so employers know that instructors are up-to-date on best practices and safety protocols. Lastly, many studios require an instructor to have a certification before being hired, so having one can open up more job opportunities.

The purpose of this article is to review some of the top certifications for Yoga Instructors and explain how they can enhance a yoga instructor's career.

What are Yoga Instructor Certifications?

Yoga instructor certification is a professional designation that signifies a person has met the standards set forth by a particular yoga school or organization and is qualified to teach in the field of yoga. This certification is typically attained through intensive study, practice, and testing in order to demonstrate competency in the area of instruction. Having this certification can help demonstrate to potential employers or clients that an individual has gone through the necessary training and possesses the knowledge and skills required to teach yoga safely and effectively. Additionally, many gyms and studios require instructors to have some sort of certification before they hire them, so obtaining this credential can open up more job opportunities for aspiring yoga teachers. Finally, it can also be beneficial for those who eventually want to pursue advanced certifications such as becoming a Certified Yoga Therapist (CYT) or Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT). Having the initial instructor certification provides a solid foundation of knowledge which will be helpful when pursuing these higher levels of accreditation.

Pro Tip: When considering a yoga instructor certification, make sure to research the qualifications and requirements of the program you are looking into. Check to see if there is an opportunity for hands-on learning and practice teaching with experienced instructors, as well as the availability of continuing education opportunities to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and techniques in yoga instruction.

Related: What does a Yoga Instructor do?

Top 11 Yoga Instructor Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Yoga Instructors today.

1. Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT)

Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) is a certification program offered by the Yoga Alliance, an international organization that sets standards for yoga teachers. The RYT designation is the most widely recognized and respected credential in the yoga community. It indicates that a teacher has met certain educational and experience requirements, including completing a minimum of 200 hours of training with an approved school or organization.

It typically takes between one to two years to complete the 200-hour training program and become an RYT. The cost of the program varies depending on the school or organization offering it; however, most programs range from $2,000 to $4,000 USD.

To become an RYT, you must first complete a 200-hour training program with an approved school or organization. After completion of the program, you must submit your application along with proof of completion and payment of a registration fee to Yoga Alliance. Once your application is approved, you will be issued your RYT credentials.

2. Certified Yoga Therapist (CYT)

A Certified Yoga Therapist (CYT) is a professional who has completed a comprehensive training program in yoga therapy and has been certified by an accredited yoga therapy organization. CYTs are trained to use the ancient practice of yoga to help people with physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health issues. The goal of a CYT is to provide individualized treatment plans for their clients that will improve overall wellbeing.

It typically takes between two and three years to become a Certified Yoga Therapist. This includes completing at least 500 hours of coursework in anatomy, physiology, pathology, kinesiology, nutrition, meditation, pranayama (breathing exercises), asana (yoga postures), and philosophy. After completing the coursework, students must pass an exam administered by an accredited yoga therapy organization in order to become certified.

In order to become certified as a CYT you must first find an accredited yoga therapy program that meets your needs and interests. You can find these programs online or through local studios or organizations. Once you have found a program that meets your needs you can apply for admission and begin the process of becoming certified.

The cost of becoming a Certified Yoga Therapist depends on the specific program you choose and can range from $2,000-$10,000 USD depending on the length of the program and other factors.

3. International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT)

The International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) is a professional organization dedicated to the advancement of yoga therapy worldwide. Founded in 1989, IAYT has been at the forefront of promoting the integration of yoga into healthcare and wellness systems around the world.

To become a member of IAYT, you must have completed an approved training program in yoga therapy that meets the standards established by IAYT. This typically takes two or more years to complete, depending on the program and your level of dedication. Once you have completed your training program, you can apply for membership with IAYT. The application process includes providing evidence that you meet all requirements for certification as well as submitting a fee which currently stands at $125 USD per year.

Once accepted as a member, you will receive access to various resources such as educational materials, networking opportunities with other members, and discounts on conferences and workshops related to yoga therapy. You will also be eligible to take the Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) examination which is administered by IAYT every three years. Passing this exam will confer upon you the title of Certified Yoga Therapist and allow you to use it after your name when practicing or teaching yoga therapy.

In addition to these benefits, members are also encouraged to participate in research projects related to yoga therapy and contribute their expertise through publications and presentations at conferences.

4. National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA)

The National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA) is a professional organization that provides certifications, education, and resources for personal trainers, strength coaches, nutritionists, and other health and fitness professionals. NESTA offers several certifications including the Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES), Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES), Mixed Martial Arts Conditioning Coach (MMACCC), and many others.

It takes approximately 4-6 weeks to complete the certification process once you have registered with NESTA. The first step is to purchase the appropriate study materials for the certification you are seeking. Once you have purchased the materials, you will need to review them thoroughly in order to prepare for the exam. After studying, you will then need to register for an exam date at one of their testing centers or online.

Once you have passed your exam with a score of 70% or higher, you will then be eligible to receive your certification from NESTA. The cost of each certification varies depending on which one you choose but typically ranges from $199-$399 USD.

5. American Council on Exercise (ACE)

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting active and healthy lifestyles through education, certification, research, and advocacy. It was founded in 1985 and has since become one of the largest certifying bodies of fitness professionals in the world.

To get certified by ACE, you must complete a certification program that includes both online coursework and an in-person practical exam. The online coursework typically takes about 8-10 weeks to complete, depending on the program you choose. After completing the coursework, you will be eligible to take the practical exam which is administered at an approved testing center.

The cost of ACE certification varies depending on which program you choose. Most programs range from $400-$600 including both the cost of course materials and the exam fee.

Once certified, ACE offers continuing education credits for those who wish to maintain their certification status as well as professional development resources for those interested in furthering their careers in fitness instruction or personal training.

6. National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) is a professional organization that provides certifications, continuing education, and other resources to health and fitness professionals. It is one of the most respected organizations in the industry, with over 100,000 certified professionals worldwide.

To become certified by NASM, individuals must complete an accredited program and pass an exam. The length of time it takes to get certified depends on the individual’s level of experience and commitment to studying for the exam. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from two months to a year or more to complete the program and pass the exam.

To get started on becoming certified by NASM, individuals must first select a program that meets their needs and budget. NASM offers several different programs ranging from entry-level certifications to advanced specializations. Each program includes online coursework as well as hands-on training components.

The cost of each program varies depending on the type of certification being pursued. Generally speaking, entry-level certifications start at around $699 while more advanced specializations can cost up to $2199 or more. Additionally, there are often additional fees associated with taking the exam itself which range from $199-$399 depending on the certification being pursued.

In conclusion, getting certified by NASM is an excellent way for health and fitness professionals to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise in their field. It typically takes between two months and a year or more to complete the necessary coursework and pass the exam depending on experience level and commitment to studying for it. The cost of each program varies but generally ranges from $699-$2199 plus any additional fees associated with taking the exam itself which range from $199-$399 depending on certification type.

7. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is a professional organization that promotes and advances sports medicine and exercise science. It was founded in 1954 and is the largest sports medicine organization in the world. ACSM provides educational resources, certifications, research, advocacy, and other services to its members.

To become certified by the ACSM, individuals must pass an exam that covers topics such as exercise physiology, nutrition, biomechanics, injury prevention and treatment, health promotion, and more. The exam typically takes about four hours to complete.

In order to take the exam, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a related field such as exercise science or physical education. They must also have either a current certification from another accredited organization or two years of experience working in a related field.

The cost of taking the ACSM certification exam is $300 for members of the ACSM or $450 for non-members. Additionally, there are fees associated with maintaining certification ($50/year for members; $75/year for non-members).

8. International Yoga Alliance (IYA)

The International Yoga Alliance (IYA) is an international organization that sets standards for yoga teachers and schools around the world. It was founded in 2004 to ensure that all yoga teachers and schools are held to the same high standards of quality, ethics, and professionalism. The IYA provides a certification process for yoga teachers and offers continuing education courses for those who wish to further their knowledge and skills in the field of yoga.

To become certified by the IYA, one must first complete a 200-hour training program at an accredited school or with an approved teacher. After completing the training, one must pass a written exam as well as a practical evaluation. Once certified, one can apply to join the IYA as a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT).

The time it takes to become certified by the IYA depends on how quickly you complete your training program and pass your exams. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from six months to two years to become certified by the IYA.

In order to get certified by the IYA, you need to complete a 200-hour training program at an accredited school or with an approved teacher. You then need to pass both a written exam and a practical evaluation in order to be eligible for certification. Once you have completed these steps, you can apply for membership with the IYA.

The cost of becoming certified by the IYA varies depending on which school or teacher you choose for your training program and whether or not you opt for additional continuing education courses after becoming certified. Generally speaking, most 200-hour programs range from $1,500-$3,000 USD with additional costs if opting for continuing education courses after certification is achieved.

9. Integrative Yoga Therapy Certification Program (IYTCP)

Integrative Yoga Therapy Certification Program (IYTCP) is a comprehensive program designed to provide yoga therapists with the skills and knowledge necessary to safely and effectively practice yoga therapy. The program combines traditional yoga practices, modern science, and evidence-based research to create a unique approach to healing.

The program is offered in two formats: an online course and a residential program. The online course consists of 10 modules that can be completed at your own pace over 12 months or less. The residential program is held at various locations throughout the year and consists of five intensive weekend workshops, which must be completed within one year.

To get certified as an Integrative Yoga Therapist, you must complete all 10 modules of the online course or attend all five weekend workshops of the residential program. You will also need to pass a written exam and submit case studies for review by IYTCP faculty members.

The cost of the Integrative Yoga Therapy Certification Program varies depending on whether you choose the online or residential format. The cost for the online course is $1,395 USD, while the cost for the residential program is $2,495 USD.

10. Kundalini Research Institute Certification Program

The Kundalini Research Institute (KRI) Certification Program is a comprehensive training program designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary to become certified Kundalini Yoga teachers. This program consists of four levels, each one taking approximately 200 hours of study.

Level One of the KRI Certification Program focuses on basic yoga postures, pranayama (breathing techniques), meditation, mantra, and kriya (yoga sets). Students will learn how to teach these practices in a safe and effective manner.

Level Two focuses on advanced yoga postures, mudras (hand gestures), bandhas (body locks), and chanting. Students will also learn about anatomy and physiology as it relates to yoga practice.

Level Three is an in-depth exploration of yogic philosophy, including the teachings of Yogi Bhajan and Sikh Dharma. Students will gain an understanding of the history and principles behind Kundalini Yoga as well as its application in everyday life.

Level Four is a practical application of all that has been learned throughout the program. Students will be required to complete a teaching practicum in order to receive their certification.

In order to get certified through KRI, students must successfully complete all four levels within three years from the start date of their first level course. The cost for each level varies depending on location but generally ranges from $500-$700 USD per level.

11. Ananda School of Yoga & Meditation Certification Program

Ananda School of Yoga & Meditation Certification Program is a comprehensive program that provides students with the knowledge and skills to become certified yoga and meditation teachers. The program consists of an online course, in-person workshops, and a final certification exam.

The online course covers the fundamentals of yoga and meditation, including anatomy and physiology, philosophy, asana practice, pranayama practice, meditation techniques, teaching methodology, and more. It is designed to give students a strong foundation in yoga and meditation so they can confidently lead classes or sessions.

The in-person workshops are held at Ananda's Ashram in California. These workshops provide hands-on experience with teaching yoga and meditation as well as further exploration into the topics covered in the online course.

To receive Ananda's Certification Program designation, students must complete both the online course and attend two of the three workshops offered at Ananda's Ashram. Upon completion of these requirements, students will be eligible to take the final certification exam which consists of written questions as well as practical assessments.

The cost for Ananda's Certification Program varies depending on whether you choose to do just the online course or if you also attend one or more of the workshops at Ananda's Ashram. The cost for just the online course is $499 USD; attending one workshop costs an additional $399 USD; attending two workshops costs an additional $599 USD; attending all three workshops costs an additional $799 USD.

In total it takes approximately 4 months to complete Ananda's Certification Program if you choose to do just the online course; if you choose to attend one or more of their workshops then it could take up to 6 months depending on when those particular workshops are scheduled.

Do You Really Need a Yoga Instructor Certificate?

The short answer to this question is that it depends. If you want to teach yoga professionally and want to be taken seriously in the industry, then yes, you do need a yoga instructor certificate. A certificate provides proof of your qualifications and credentials as a yoga instructor, which can help you stand out from the competition.

However, if you are just looking to practice yoga for personal reasons or even to teach friends and family without charging, then you likely don’t need a certificate. That said, it may still be beneficial for you to pursue some kind of certification if only for the purpose of deepening your knowledge of the practice and gaining more confidence in teaching others.

Ultimately, whether or not you need a yoga instructor certificate will depend on your goals and ambitions as a yogi. If becoming an official yoga teacher is something that interests you, then investing in a certificate will be well worth it in the long run.

Related: Yoga Instructor Resume Examples

FAQs About Yoga Instructor Certifications

Q1: What qualifications do I need to become a yoga instructor?

A1: Most yoga instructor certification programs require a minimum of 200 hours of training, including anatomy, physiology, and teaching methodology. Many also require additional qualifications such as First Aid and CPR training.

Q2: How do I get certified as a yoga instructor?

A2: You can obtain certification through an accredited yoga school or teacher training program. These courses usually include both in-person and online instruction, as well as practical experience teaching classes.

Q3: How long does it take to become a certified yoga instructor?

A3: The length of time needed to complete the certification process varies depending on the program and your level of commitment. Generally speaking, most programs take between 6 months and 2 years to complete.

Q4: What is the cost of becoming a certified yoga instructor?

A4: Costs vary depending on the program you choose, but typically range from around $500 for basic certification up to several thousand dollars for more advanced certifications such as RYT-500 (Registered Yoga Teacher).

Q5: Are there any continuing education requirements for certified yoga instructors?

A5: Yes, many certification programs require continuing education credits in order to maintain their credentials. This could include attending workshops or conferences, taking online courses, or completing additional training in specialized areas such as prenatal or therapeutic yoga.