Yoga has come a long way over the last 5,000 years. It has changed and evolved, traveled across the world to reach practitioners of all ages, sizes and in all corners of the globe. It has inspired new branches of practice, given rise to countless clothing lines and a whole industry of health related products. It has also created careers for many practitioners. Yoga teachers are everywhere! While we think that’s great news, there are some murky questions about who can or should be teaching. In other words, do yoga teachers need to be certified in order to share their knowledge and run classes?
The short answer is: No. Literally anyone can offer their knowledge and create classes. But! That doesn’t mean they should.
The conversation should not stop there. Let’s look at some of the larger factors surrounding yoga teachers. This is especially important if you are considering dipping your toes into the world of yoga for the first time.
While much of yoga’s 5,000 year history is undocumented, we know that the lineages have traveled down from master to student through the centuries. Back then, of course, there were no certification programs, people simply dedicated their lives to the discipline. When students became ready to pass on their knowledge, a new set of eager learners would carry on the practice.
In the first half of the 20th century, news of more formal schools began to appear. The great yogi, Krishnamacharya, is often considered the “father” of yoga, though many teachers would have come before him. It is to Krishnamacharya that modern schools in the western schools can be traced.
After him came several other renowned teachers like B.K.S. Iyengar, Sri K. Pattabhis Jois, T.K.V. Desikachar carried on the practice and began attracting students from the west. Thus began the modern era of yoga.
When yoga really began to pick up steam in North America, there were two “governing” nonprofit groups: Unity in Yoga and Ad Hoc Yoga Alliance. They merged to become the Yoga Alliance and since 1999, the YA keeps a registry of teachers who meet a set of minimum standards.
If you are in the yoga world, you likely have seen the designations 200-hr or 500-hr either in your teacher’s bio or as courses offered to aspiring teachers. These are the minimum standard course offerings referred to by the YA that a yoga teacher takes in order to become “certified.”
You might be wondering: if it doesn’t matter if your certified, what’s the point?
Most yoga teachers today will have immersed themselves in a program in order to gain the knowledge they need to keep their students safe. Yoga is more than just stretching, and a teacher is often instructing students to push their bodies to new limits. It is imperative they know what they are doing! In the case of injury, registering with the Yoga Alliance means that the teacher will be protected with insurance.
So while teacher training certification is not technically a must, we believe students should be wary of teachers without proper training. Yoga deals with body, mind and spirit, and a teacher should have proper training before embarking on a path to influence others in these very personal ways.
At Naked Truth, we don’t take Yoga Teacher Training lightly! Our programs go in depth to create responsible and knowledgable teachers in order to keep students safe and preserve this incredible discipline.