Yoga is becoming more popular as people turn to the ancient practice to cultivate calm in a chaotic time. This was true even before the pandemic, but given the current mental health crisis, we arguably need yoga more than ever.
As of 2017, the yoga and Pilates studio class market is worth over $88 billion worldwide and is expected to reach $215 billion by 2025. And this projection doesn’t include global revenue from yoga-adjacent businesses like the yoga clothing market, which is worth $31.3 billion, the yoga mat industry (worth $13 billion) and wellness tourism including yoga retreats. (Related reading: How to start your own fitness clothing line)
How much money do yoga teachers make a year?
Becoming a yoga instructor is a fulfilling, potentially profitable career. Yoga instructors in the U.S. earn an average of $60,000 annually.
Some yoga instructors teach a few classes a week while others work full-time leading group classes, individual one-on-one sessions or wellness retreats. You can teach yoga part-time, while pursuing a career in a different industry, and many yoga teachers work on a contract or freelance basis with yoga studios and apps. (Related: Former NFL player DJ Townsel shares how YouTube yoga changed his career)
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many yoga studios and teachers took their offerings virtual with live classes over Zoom or pre-recorded classes. The uptick of yoga apps, fitness websites and videos has created more money-making opportunities for those becoming yoga instructors. (To improve the quality of your online workouts, read how to shoot a workout video like a pro and 8 ways to up your Zoom exercise game.)
Whether you want to teach in person or online, you’ll need to finish your teacher training course (TTC), also referred to as yoga teacher training (YTT), to score a gig teaching yoga. More on that next.
How to become a yoga instructor in 7 steps
01. Determine your focus
Consider doing your entry-level 200-hour training in whichever type of yoga you enjoy the most and want to specialize in such as Ashtanga, Hatha, Yin or Kundalini yoga. Some YTT programs offer a combination of practices.
Should you have the means to travel (and pending COVID-19 rates), the best place in the world to learn how to become a yoga instructor is India, the birthplace of yoga. If you’re interested in learning Hatha you could look for a course in Rishikesh in Northern India, or if you’re keen to teach Ashtanga yoga, book one in Mysore in Southern Central India where that particular style of yoga originated.
02. Find a registered yoga school (RYS)
Yoga teacher training courses are accredited by Yoga Alliance®, a globally recognized education organization with an established system of requirements for teachers and schools. Once you’ve completed your YTT, you can teach anywhere in the world, as long as you have the proper work visa for the country.
Yoga Alliance Certification requires that registered yoga school (RYS) follow set categories, known as the common core curriculum, which cover the practice of asanas (physical postures), pranayama (proper breathing exercises), anatomy and physiology and yoga humanities.
Here’s what you can expect from your training:
Lessons on yoga history and philosophy
Hands-on practice with asanas. You’ll learn how to guide your students through sun salutations, standing postures, seated postures, inverted postures and restorative postures.
How to create a welcoming class environment, provide instructional techniques, structure and sequence a flow, execute the poses correctly and give proper adjustments to correct alignment.
In-depth coursework on skeletal anatomy and physiology. Understanding the way the body moves is critical to keeping your students safe while they’re taking your yoga classes.
RYS may add to the curriculum as they see fit with additional programs on mindfulness, which may cover meditation, conscious communication and listening skills.
If you have a local yoga studio where you like to practice as a student, ask if they’re a RYS and offer YTTs at the studio. Many yoga studios offer a YTT program to supplement income from yoga classes and workshops. If you don’t frequent a local yoga studio, search in your area for a RYS.
You can also consider doing your YTT online. Online TTC is an excellent option if you’ve found a YTT you’d like to do but isn’t near where you live or you are unable to travel.
03. Choose the right YTT program for you
Yoga teacher trainings are categorized by the number of hours they take to complete. It’s common to start with a 200-hour YTT, which is the minimum amount required to be certified as a yoga teacher by the Yoga Alliance. If you want a more in-depth course, you can register for a 500-hour YTT. You’ll always have the option to continue to study and earn your 500-hour certifications in the future should you decide to start with a 200-hour YTT.
Many 200-hour YTTs are completed within a month and hold classes up to six days a week with classes starting at 6 a.m. and ending at 6 p.m. If you don’t have the time for an intense YTT you can look for a school that only meets on weekends, several times a week or once a month.
Costs for YTTs vary greatly depending on location, reputation and offering. Online courses generally start around $300, but a course that includes housing and meals could cost around $7,000. Some RYSs offer promotions throughout the year or discounts for some demographic groups, so if you find a training you’d love to do but it’s outside your budget, ask if there are any discounts available. For instance, YogaFit®, the largest teacher training school in North America, offers reduced early-bird pricing.
04. Study up
Make sure you’re prepared for a physical and mental challenge. YTT isn’t just about doing the asanas (physical postures). It’s mostly studying texts and listening to lectures, which count towards the 200-hour training requirement. Most YTTs have a test at the end of the course before giving you a certificate, much like the most respected personal training certifications.
05. Get certified as a Registered Yoga Teacher
Once you complete the YTT, you’re allowed to teach and have the option of becoming a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) with Yoga Alliance for a fee. This isn’t required to teach, but some yoga studios may only work with credentialed instructors for insurance purposes. (When you pay to become an RYT with Yoga Alliance, you also receive insurance for your yoga classes.) If you opt out of becoming an RYT with Yoga Alliance you should still consider getting yoga insurance from another accredited organization such as beYogi.
06. Build a website
When you’re ready to set up your business as a yoga teacher, you’ll need to build a fitness website so prospective employers and students can learn more about your teaching style. Make sure to include:
An about page describing your experience and specialty
A contact form so people can reach you
Professional imagery that reflects your brand
You’ll also want to write a fitness newsletter so you can keep in touch with your clients and update them on your class schedule and upcoming workshops or events. Be sure to link to your website across your social media channels, and choose one consistent handle, ideally your business name if it’s available. Tap into these fitness marketing strategies to grow your business from there.
07. Expand your online offerings
Yoga is the ideal at-home practice since it generally requires minimal equipment, but you’ll need the software to support your virtual offerings. Some suggestions:
Build a video library featuring your favorite flows. You can charge a membership fee to meet your revenue goals. (P.S. You can also teach hot yoga at home with the right gear.)
Create an online program, like a 30-day challenge or a series or sun salutations. You can also charge for these, or offer them for free as a marketing strategy.
Host virtual workshops that tap into yoga-adjacent topics, like mindfulness and meditation. Zoom is a great way to experiment with new offerings to see what resonates.
Use scheduling software so your students can easily register for classes, whether they're online or in-person.
FYI: Many of Wix Fit’s templates already come with the apps you need to grow your yoga business. Find the best fitness template for your business needs here.