How to be a Yoga Teacher

So you want to be a Yoga Teacher

Yoga Teacher Training.

Question the teacher about their background and philosophy, and ask about their lineage and influences

So, you’re thinking of embarking on a yoga teacher training course, and wondering how do you choose from the hundreds available on-line?

Today a plethora of yoga teacher training courses are available, but this was not the case until recently. Becoming a yoga teacher was something you did after decades of practice.

If you wanted to train as a yoga teacher in the UK, until a few years ago the choice was limited the British Wheel of Yoga and the British School of Yoga. The BWY marketed itself as the governing body for yoga in the UK, it is argued this was not a credible claim, as there is not a single controlling body of yoga in the UK. The other option was the BSY, which is solely a distance learning course.


The game changed when Yoga Alliance, based in the USA, launched itself in the UK. Yoga Alliance made it far more accessible to offer Yoga Teacher Training Courses in the UK, and provided more choice for students. After this came the Independent Yoga Network. The IYN considered the BWY out of touch and overly bureaucratic, and set itself up as an alternative. After this came Yoga Alliance Professionals, a UK based awarding body. Globally there is Yoga Alliance International, which is based in India, and is an internationally recognised qualification.

So how do you decide which course will be the most beneficial for you? You may want to start with the teacher’s background and their lineage. There are lots more opportunities and courses available now, but there are concerns that more does not mean more quality. Some promote a type of national standard for teacher training courses in the yoga world.

A standardising and regulating body is a two-edged sword. It may help raise minimum standards for training providers, but we need to ask who will this regulating body be, and will they be open and impartial to different ways of teaching yoga. It may be better to have an advisory body which helps potential students decide which is a creditable provider by empowering them to ask the right questions.

Thinking about enquiries I receive it is not unusual for me to offer my background and length of experience. It would be better if the prospective student knew what questions to ask, otherwise how do the decide on the best options available if you don’t know the correct questions to ask.

The lineage of a school is in my opinion very important as I think It supports authenticity and credibility. If a yoga training school is passionate about upholding and preserving its lineage, it says a lot about the quality and depth of its philosophy.

As I pointed out above, there are UK-based awarding bodies, so a question you might want to ask is, will your UK-based qualification be recognised worldwide. Certainly, the Yoga Alliance International is globally recognised, as is Yoga Alliance (USA). How useful a BWY yoga or Independent Yoga Network qualification would be in say, Europe is something you might want to research.

So how do you decide which course is right for you. You may want to consider the length of the course. There are courses that condense 200 hours into one month, which may suit students with experience and a firm background in yoga.

You may need time to assimilate the experience, for me a large part of the point of the course is the change it brings, and our personal evolution. This is seen in our practice and our understanding of the deeper meaning of yoga.

To find the course that is right for you I recommend some research. Question the teacher about their background and philosophy, and ask about their lineage and influences. Ask about the awarding body, and if your certificate will be recognised outside the UK. I know of a lot of cases where a teacher has decided to teach abroad, so it may make a huge difference to you. Lastly think about the depth of the course, for gaining a certificate quickly may not be in your best interests in the long run. If you want to teach in a gym or a studio, you need to know you will be employable, so choosing a credible trainer with a proven background is essential.

Martin Thompson.