Become a Yoga Teacher: Complete Guide
"Yoga is not just an exercise, but a disciplined science that helps to harmonize the mind, body and spirit, thus helping us to achieve perfect health & eternal bliss. And a yoga instructor not just teaches you various yoga postures and breathing techniques (pranayamas), but acts as your guide to help you reach this harmony", explains Deepti Bhandari. Born in the "Yoga capital of the world", Rishikesh, Deepti is Chief Yoga Instructor at Calmness with Yoga, an organization in Delhi teaching authentic & traditional yoga practices to attain calmness. Prior to this she was a senior yoga instructor for almost 9 years at the Ananda - In the Himalayas, rated among the best destination spas in the world.
A yoga teacher is well-versed and proficient enough in the discipline of yoga to impart its knowledge to beginners in this field. Before becoming a yoga instructor, it is important to learn the practice from a reliable and trusted yoga school. After obtaining a certificate/ degree in yoga, an aspiring yoga teacher should ideally spend some years practicing and attaining higher levels of knowledge before venturing into teaching. B.K.S Iyengar who was one of the earliest proponents of yoga and founder of the style of yoga known as "Iyengar Yoga" once replied thus to a young student in China who couldn't improve despite practicing yoga for 7 years, "I’ve been practising yoga for 76 years. And I’m still learning!"
How to become a certified yoga teacher
In the last one year, the government of India has taken steps to certify yoga teachers in an effort to discourage dubious yoga institutes and yoga teachers with unreliable certifications. Just a day after the 1st International Day for Yoga was celebrated across the world on 21 June, 2015, the Indian government launched the "Scheme for Voluntary Certification of Yoga Professionals". This scheme is being mentored by the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH). The Quality Council of India (QCI) that provides accreditation standards for various sectors, has developed this scheme which will certify all yoga professionals who aim to provide yoga lessons. This scheme will have 3 levels, out of which only the first level is operational right now:
Level 1 – Yoga Teacher
Level 2 - Yoga Master
Level 3 – Yoga Guru
If you want to get this certification, you can apply to QCI (offline or online), paying a fee of Rs.6,000 and then get examined at a chosen centre. The examination will include a written test, a practical demonstration and an oral interview. You will qualify if you score at least 70% in the written exam as well in the practical demo+interview. The certificate you obtain will remain valid only for 3 years after which you would have to re-apply for certification.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, is the chairman of QCI's Yoga Certification Steering Committee. Other members of this committee include Dr.H.R. Nagendra who is chancellor of Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-VYASA Yoga University) and also PM Modi's yoga consultant; Dr. Ishwar V. Basavaraddi who is director of Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga and Swami GovindanandaSaraswati from the Sivananda Yoga VidyaPeetham in Kerala.
Komal Kriplani, an Art of Living Yoga & Pranayama Instructor with 15 years of experience
Yoga courses and institutes
Deepti Bhandari highly recommends the Bihar School of Yoga (BSY) founded in 1964 by Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati in Munger, Bihar. BSY offers a month long Yoga Instructors Course (Hindi/ English) as well as a 1 year Diploma in Yogic Studies Course, 1 year (English) apart from other short-term courses. She also recommends the 1 month Teachers' Training Course (TTC) by the Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy - Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh and Kerala (Rs.25,000 fee.)
Komal Kriplani, an Art of Living Yoga & Pranayama Instructor with 15 years of experience recommends the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) set up by B.K.S. Iyengar. In order to become a certified teacher of Iyengar Yoga, you need to undergo a teacher's training of at least 2 years. In order to start such a training, you need to have been a student of Iyengar Yoga for a minimum of 3 years.
Deepti is of the opinion that a true yoga teacher will always be true to herself and true to what she is teaching. "Once you start practicing yoga, you change for the better and become more humble, calm and sincere. A yoga teacher should ideally embody these qualities," says Deepti who is in the process of starting her Ph.D in Yoga from the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-VYASA Yoga University.) Remember, there is more to yoga than just the asanas (postures). Becoming a yoga instructor requires one to practice its principles on as well as off the yoga mat!
Private yoga lessons are in demand a lot nowadays. Komal Kriplani, teaching yoga postures to a client.
Yoga Teacher Career opportunities
After the United Nations declared 21 June as the International Yoga Day in December 2014, the first celebration of this day took place on 21
June, 2015 when 192 countries across the world enthusiastically joined in to mark the day. India led the world from Rajpath setting two Guinness World records in the process - with 35,985 participants at Rajpath making it the largest ever yoga session and with the maximum number of nationalities (84) practicing yoga at a venue.
The event has resulted in a surge in the interest among people to learn and practice yoga, thus bringing to attention the career of a yoga instructor. Yoga centres and health spas across India have started receiving enquiries round the clock for classes.With the increasing demand to learn yoga, even gyms have started offering classes - opening up another avenue for yoga instructors.
The corporate sector has woken up to the deadly effect of stress on the health of its employees and has adopted yoga into its culture in a big way. "Office yoga", "desktop yoga", "chair yoga" are versions customised by yoga teachers for the corporate sector which is struggling with many stress-induced health issues. Yoga instructors are therefore highly sought after in these domains.
Personal one-on-one classes are also becoming a popular option, says Deepti Bhandari, who has clients visiting her at her home for yoga classes. She also gives classes over Skype to former clients from her Ananda Spa days who prefer to continue getting guidance from her.
There is a lot of demand for lady yoga instructors in countries in the Gulf area (Dubai etc.), thus providing them safe & well-paying opportunities, says Deepti.
Yoga teachers can also seek employment opportunities in schools, especially since plans are in the offing to introduce yoga in the school curriculum for classes 6 - 10 (central government schools & probably private schools as well.)
Yoga Teacher Salary
Yoga teachers can earn anything from Rs.10,000 - 30,000 per month by taking group classes. Personal (one-on-one) classes for individuals/ celebrities pay much better, especially if you've created a reputation for yourself among clients. Working at spas is also a good option as one can start at Rs.15,000 approximately and with experience earn as much as Rs.80,000 per month. Yoga instructors who cater to two or three organisations in the corporate sector also earn around Rs.70,000 per month.