Why Yoga Education Needs To Be Rethought

Welcome to the *anti-200 hour yoga teacher training course* post written by a lead teacher on multiple 200 hour yoga teacher training courses.

First things first. I’m not actually against 200 or 300 hour YTTC’s, but I do think that the intention behind them needs to be reconsidered. I’m not here to bash anyone, upset anyone, or put anyone down. I’m here to open a discussion on the quality and values behind one of the most easily attainable certifications in the world- the 200 hour yoga teacher certification. I love my job as a yoga teacher trainer, I truly believe it is my life’s purpose to guide people on this transformational journey because it is one that I, myself, completed in 2017 and my life changed because of it. However, since becoming a trainer I have seen the ins and outs, the ups and downs, and the politics involved in running a yoga school and I have to say… at some point I realized that any person can come in… pay the money for the course… and call themselves a certified yoga teacher. Really?

Let’s unpack it.

Yoga runs so much deeper than physical asana practice- yoga is a way of life, an understanding, a lifestyle, a history, and a culture all encompassed in one word. But the instant gratification that 200 hour TTC’s gives students means that there are people attending these courses who haven’t even learned, studied, and embodied the practice before venturing off to become teachers. There’s no pre-requisites to attend a course and zero requirements for a minimum grade to pass the final exam which means that there are people out there who are, on paper, qualified to teach a yoga class and in my opinion, should not… under any circumstance… be teaching a yoga class.

Of course, there are people who attend 200 hour courses who don’t even have the intention of becoming teachers…. but do we really still need to call it a yoga teacher training then? Perhaps there’s a lack of offerings where people can go JUST to deepen their own practice.

So, who’s supposed to be setting and monitoring the standards of yoga schools? Well that would be Yoga Alliance. Yoga Alliance itself as an organization is not certifying yoga teachers, the schools are. So whether the entire organization or individual schools are the problem is something i’m unsure of but the fact remains- there is a lack of standards when it comes to the people being certified as yoga teachers which further perpetuates a deeper problem… the severe over saturation of yoga teachers on the market and the lack of jobs to employ them. I’m lucky enough to have created a sustainable income through yoga, but this wasn’t easy. I had to work tirelessly to build myself up as a knowledgable, well known, and highly experienced teacher with a background in anatomy and fitness.

Making a living off of yoga alone is damn near impossible. If you’re a yoga teacher, it’s probably a side gig even if you don’t want it to be. I firmly believe that this is because yoga studios can pay teachers SO little knowing that if one teacher won’t do it, there’s certainly someone out there who will. I’ve found that the teachers willing to accept less money are also the less experienced ones- the one’s just looking to get started or get their foot in the door which means the person teaching that hour long vinyasa flow people are attending after work might have less yoga experience than THE PEOPLE ATTENDING IT.

Guess what that leads to? Injury. Misinformation. A watered down version of the true essence of yoga. Is this true in every case? Of course not. I have seen people go through my 200 hour courses, teach a flow as their final exam, and I truly would be honored to attend one of their classes. But there are also people who went through the course, missed 40%(ish) of the classes, hurt people with hands on adjustments in their final exam and guess what…. still got a certification.

I understand that not giving some people the certificate might be… offensive.? But think about it- if you attend university and fail some of the classes, do you still get a degree? No. You either retake the class, or you forget the degree and try something else. AND THATS OKAY! I’m just saying the certification process should at the very least be rethought.

So what’s the solution?

Prerequisites to attend a course?

A minimum requirement for attendance?

A minimum passing grade on the final exam?

Observation hours?

More offerings where people can deepen their knowledge without getting a certificate?

Maybe all the above.

At the very least, yoga education and trainings should be rethought.

and as leaders, let’s take responsibility for OUR OWN teachings and make sure that we study, experience, and embody the essence of yoga.

** a note**

I have loved every yoga school I have taught at and am infinitely grateful for the opportunity to lead other people along this path. This post is not geared towards any teacher, student, or school individually but rather a commentary on how yoga practitioners and organizations as a whole can be doing better to preserve the integrity of the practice and teachings of yoga.

March 28, 2023

by: ania