"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, a discipline which symbolizes a different way of life. Each year, hundreds of practitioners take the steps to becoming a yoga teacher. But did they all take yoga certification courses before they got there?
The answer is no! This would be because UK institutions do not regulate the practice of yoga, nor the teaching of it. Therefore, anyone can claim to be a master of wisdom... however, not all are created equal!
What are the options for teaching yoga without a diploma? We try to explore every angle in this article.
What training is required to teach yoga?
"Unite" and "connect": this is what yoga means in the literal sense. 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 life-long improvement and learning
Yoga does not meet any governmental requirements: each school or association is free to set their own admission rules for teachers. Moreover, there are some places in which no certification in yoga instruction is required:
- Some regional associations or neighbourhood associations
- In some yoga schools, especially in areas where it is difficult to find teachers
It also depends on your employment status:
- If you are employed, this must be included in your employment contract
- If you volunteer, no contractual obligation is needed
- If you are self-employed, this does not have to be included in your service contract
Practising, or being taught yoga, can happen at any time and at any age. All you need to do is be passionate, love challenges, and delve into learning the various yoga postures!
Did you know? In the UK, yoga teachers are between 18 and 70+ years old so there is no limit on becoming a yoga teacher even at an older age. Also interesting to note: the oldest yoga teacher in the world is Tao Porchon-Lynch, and still gives lessons... at 99 years old!
Important to know: to be a good yoga teacher, it is essential to combine theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge. In general, experience makes it possible to acquire both, but academic training can help speed up the process, or give you a certificate enabling you to teach in more stimulating places.
Training to Become a Yoga Instructor
While this may seem obvious, giving a yoga class requires mixing theory and practice. You are not going to practice the different asanas without knowing the spiritual theory, nor offer a sequence of postures without knowing your own anatomy and physiology.
Since yoga is not a regulated profession in the UK, experience can replace training. However, yoga training is always beneficial, both for your teaching resume and your personal experience. There are two types of training:
- Courses recognized in specialized schools
- Unrecognized formations in associations or other organizations, or by taking a yoga workshop abroad.
You may also obtain a certificate or training through different subjects or areas of study. It all depends on the training organization. Training in a yoga centre or yoga school can allow you to:
- Deepen your cultural and linguistic knowledge, by reading Sanskrit or by expanding your knowledge of the Indian tradition
- Master the breath, breathing and concentration, through practical training
- Guide your students to deepen their awareness, teaching them the benefits of yoga
- Develop techniques to know how to teach to your differing types of students and classes
- Enrich yourself personally, by comparing techniques from the West and those from the East
It is also important to distinguish between long training courses in specialized schools (which last between 2 and 5 years) and short courses, which consist of intensive training in specialized subjects. Long courses allow you to obtain a diploma recognized by the Yoga Alliance, a worldwide organization responsible for training. Short courses allow you to receive a certificate of aptitude, especially for specialized yoga courses such as postnatal yoga, senior yoga, pilates yoga etc.
But let's be realistic: becoming a yoga teacher is not just about getting a theoretical degree, right?
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Teaching Yoga Without a Diploma
As we mentioned before, teaching yoga without a diploma is quite possible: in this case, it's all about your experience in the field. Indeed, a future yogi will be more impressed by your knowledge, enthusiasm and past experiences (such as a summer internship with a grandmaster) than by graduating from a certain training. That would be more the icing on the cake.
Good to know: In principle, the salary of an un-certified teacher does not change significantly compared to one who is certified. On Superprof, the average cost of a yoga class is £30.
It can be possible provided you can showcase impressive experience, whichever the format:
- Practical internship with confirmed yoga masters
- 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, prenatal yoga...)
In effect, to teach, it is better to have a certain level of yoga, which can be achieved through certification. However, if you want to practice as a freelance teacher, no degree is required. The main advantage? Freedom in your schedule, which can alternate between:
- Iyengar yoga group classes
- A kundalini yoga session
- Private traditional yoga classes
- A tailor-made skype or online course, with students across the country
- Introduction to meditation and personal development
On platforms like Superprof, you can be put in touch with other teachers or students, offer adapted courses, or even receive them! Because discovering the methodology of others or doing additional training can only be advantageous for your credibility as a yoga teacher.
My yoga teacher had no diploma and we started our training program (or rather initiation) with him over several weeks. It was very therapeutic for me, both for the mind and physically. It was only after 3 weeks that I thought to ask him the question: "Where have you been trained?" and he replied, "by the school of life". A perfect answer in fitting with the philosophy of the discipline!
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Independent and Complementary Yoga Formations
What can distinguish you from other competitors (because you are not the only one wanting to teach yoga) is to have a speciality, or even several. This is usually called post-training, or continuing education. The more you know about yoga techniques in the UK and abroad, the more students will be encouraged to take your yoga classes!
You can choose a speciality (or several) among the most common:
- Prenatal or postnatal yoga
- Ayurvedic Yoga
- Kids yoga
- Adult yoga
- Yoga for seniors
Or rather choose a method or specific techniques:
- Yoga Iyengar
- Yoga Sutra
- Hatha Yoga
- Ashtanga yoga
- Karma yoga
- Vinyasa yoga
- Natha yoga
A yoga teacher is not only a spiritual guide, but also a therapist, who accompanies you within the framework of your everyday life. If you want to teach yoga, even without a diploma, it is important to consider this guiding aspect.
Additionally, concerning internships abroad: if they do not give you a specific certificate, they will give you experience which is often a valuable part of your teaching resume.
A trip to India, birthplace of the yogic culture, or to other countries with millions of practitioners (such as the United States or Australia) is a good way to improve as a teacher, despite not returning with a certificate.
My spiritual and emotional practice is based on several techniques, from breathing exercises to postures which help me gain in flexibility. I am very happy that teacher training is not limited to only one aspect of yoga, or that only one teacher could be my guide towards achieving wellness.
Since yoga promotes self-awareness and positive thinking, you need to feel ready to live a yogic life, especially without a degree. After all, professional training is still a personal matter. Feeling ready to jump in?
Definitions: "Yoga Without Certification"
Can we teach yoga and be a student at another school?
This is possible because yoga teacher training is continuous, throughout your life. You could, for example, teach yoga nidra but seek to specialize in yoga pranayama, thereby deepening your relaxation techniques. There are many amazing yoga teachers out there to learn from!