Online Yoga Teacher Training: Learn More About Online Yoga Training and Certification
Article by Lucas Rockwood
February 18, 2022
Are you considering a 200hr Online Yoga Teacher Training Yoga Alliance Course? Are you wondering if online training actually works and if anyone will hire you as a yoga teacher?
Before I share the good, the bad, and the complexities of remote yoga teacher training (YTT), it’s important to understand my perspective as an online yoga teacher. I’ve been teaching yoga since 2003, I’ve owned and operated four yoga studios in two countries, and I’ve certified over 21,000 professional yoga teachers. I teach and train both online and offline, and I’ve been in the yoga industry for decades.
The good news is that online yoga education allows for deeper learning, expanded curriculum, lower tuition, and greater access to the training course. Finally, getting access to the best teacher training is no longer limited to exclusive yoga retreats in Bali, high-end London, or New York City. An online yoga instructor course eliminates the need to travel, and everyone now has access to pursue their practice further by taking their yoga teacher training online.
Here's the bad news about online teacher trainings. Over 90 percent of online yoga teacher training courses are simply a hard drive full of course videos and PDF files that you are meant to go through and read all by your lonesome self and somehow come out the other end as a yoga teacher. To make matters worse, most of these YTT courses are taught by opportunist business people, not by lifelong, career yoga teachers.
If you’ve never studied online, it is a unique training experience. For many, the complexities of online yoga certification enhance the journey to becoming a yoga teacher. The biggest difference seen in online training courses is diversity: background, age, demographics, and culture. If you join a yoga training in Santa Monica, the trainees will mostly fit a specific profile. Online, there is no typical yoga student; they are literally representative of all types of people from all over the world. But everyone has the same goal of learning yoga and becoming a teacher. Contrary to popular thought, online training also makes it impossible to hide in the back of the class. Everyone is given equal attention and meritocracy rules throughout the course. Lately, when you’re online, there are new tools and techniques you’ll need to learn to be successful with your yoga teacher training. You’ll be forced outside your comfort zone and that leads to both personal growth and professional development as a yoga teacher.
THE GOOD: Top 10% of Online Yoga Teacher Training Courses
- Training is live, interactive, and in real time
- Videos and PDFs are important supporting materials, not the main course content
- Curriculum is more in-depth than the yoga course would be possible in person
- Trainers are lifelong, career teachers who earn their living as teachers
- Team of instructors (rather than just one teacher) offers more support and diversity of teaching voices
- Live sessions and calls happen daily during the course
- Real-time community in private online support groups
- Personalized practice and teaching notes throughout the online course
- Teaching assessment with strict yoga teacher certification requirements
- Strong online yoga teacher and alumni community
- Extensive business and marketing tools and support
- 80 percent or more of graduates teach yoga professionally
THE BAD: *Most* Online Yoga Training Courses
- Often, online yoga teacher trainings consists of nothing more than videos to watch and PDFs to read
- Trainers are often very junior and have never earned a living as a yoga teacher
- No live calls practice, support, or mentorship
- No community, no peer group, or no yoga retreats
- Everyone who pays is given a yoga teacher certification
- No assessment, feedback, or course learning objectives
- Less than 15 percent of “graduates” go on to teach yoga professionally
THE COMPLEX: Uniqueness of Online Yoga Training Courses
- Online yoga teacher training courses tend to have greater diversity including new cultures, new accents, and different perspectives
- Online yoga courses will push you further outside your comfort zone than typical in-person yoga class experiences
- Online yoga certification courses involve new tools, new techniques, and new ideas—this is the cutting edge of the yoga industry, and often, this means rethinking old ways
- Online training makes it impossible to hide in the back of the class; everyone gets equal time and attention from the course yoga teacher
Frequently Asked Questions – Online Yoga Teacher Training
Q: Does Yoga Alliance allow for online only yoga teacher training courses?
A: Yes, the Yoga Alliance made a special approval in 2020 during the pandemic for online yoga instructor certification, and it allowed so many more people access to teachers and training that it has now been extended indefinitely. Online teacher training democratizes access to high-level yoga education. By increasing the availability of yoga courses, it allows more people to receive their yoga teacher certificate.
Q: Will studios and gyms hire yoga teachers with online certificates?
A: Yes, assuming you graduate from a good yoga instructor training course. The sad fact is that most yoga teacher training courses, whether online or in person, do not prepare trainees for the real world. Most yoga certification courses are designed for personal growth and practice experience—not professional yoga training. At a good online YTT course, whether online or in-person, you’ll have the skills, confidence, practice, and experience required to teach yoga professionally, and your yoga expertise will be obvious to any employer.
Q: My yoga teacher said online yoga teacher training courses don’t work. Is this true?
A: As we’ve discussed, most online yoga teacher training courses consist of self-serve videos and PDFs. In those cases, your teacher is right because no one learns how to become a yoga teacher that way. What your teacher might not know is that there is a small percentage of online yoga training schools that have completely revolutionized the learning experience, and what they offer in their online yoga school is unparalleled even with in-person yoga intensives. To find out if a yoga school course is successful, search for their graduates and see what they are doing; professionally. From a good online yoga school, you’ll easily find hundreds of active yoga teachers who are leaders in their communities.
Q: Is it safe to learn yoga online?
A: There have been some very silly and uninformed writings about the dangers of yoga published recently, but none of this stands up to even the slightest scrutiny. When it comes to health and fitness, it’s hard to find anything as safe as yoga. I know this because it costs more for me to insure my cell phone each year than it does to insure myself and my entire teaching team for yoga training and practice. Injuries in yoga are mild and rare. Do they happen? Yes, of course. If you’re in-person, can your teacher prevent injuries better than online? Not at all. There are valid concerns with online yoga teacher training; safety is not one of them.
Q: What if I’m not tech savvy?
A: Look at your phone right now. That little gizmo is one of the most powerful computers that has ever existed, and you use it all day, every day. If you’re not tech savvy, you’re doing a good job of faking it. If you can use your phone, you can join an online yoga teacher training course. Will you need to learn to use Zoom, chat groups, and other tools? Yes, but you’re more than capable of learning these tools and taking an online yoga teacher training course. Before you start your online YTT course, you do want to ensure your internet speed is fast enough, which means having at least 20mbps download and 10mbps upload (check speed here). Having fast enough internet will help ensure that your teacher training goes smoothly and that you can get the most out of the certification program.
Q: How can I make real connections with my yoga teachers and fellow students online?
A: In-person courses do have the advantage of seeing others face-to-face, sharing a meal, and experiencing the vibe of a group yoga class. Most in-person training is designed as an intensive, and the yoga course is over before you know it. Online training courses tend to be part-time, longer, more comprehensive, and the good YTT courses are interactive. I’ve trained in-person since 2007 and online since 2017, and I can tell you definitively that there are more friends and long-term connections from my online courses. This comes down to (1) more time to connect, (2) instant link up to social profiles, (3) extensive, sometimes daily, co-working practice, and (4) ongoing chats, calls, and conversations through online chat groups. Plus, a consistent yoga practice gives you more time to connect and form friendships with other yoga training participants.
Q: How will I get feedback on my yoga practice and teaching?
A: In my typical 200hr Online Yoga Teacher Training course, students get detailed written feedback at least 2-3x per week, sometimes more. There are a total of three formal yoga assessments with individualized written and verbal feedback. When it comes to feedback, online is superior because the training team can review in detail classes and give specific feedback to everyone (since sessions are recorded). Additionally, in my online yoga teacher training, we offer bonus sessions, small group work, and even one-on-one help as you become a yoga teacher online.
Q: How much will it cost to become an online yoga teacher?
A: As with anything, there are a wide range of tuition costs and the price at each online yoga school can vary. Many of the video and PDF yoga courses are extremely inexpensive, but as they say, you get what you pay for. The price for top online yoga training courses is comparable to what you’d pay for training at your local studio; but the curriculum, support, and community included in the course should be superior, and the convenience saves you time and money long term. Most yoga courses require you to pay for the course upfront or provide an initial deposit. As with all educational investments, the best way to think about the cost is how long it will take you to recoup your investment once you start working as a teacher. With high-quality yoga certification online, graduates typically earn back their tuition in 2-4 months.
Q: Will my yoga colleagues take me seriously if I trained online?
A: Education has changed. Today, people are engaged in remote learning for everything from MBA and PhD programs to yoga and other vocational training. The stigma around online YTT education ended long ago. The question is not online or offline; the question is whether your yoga teacher training was high caliber. Furthermore, every serious yoga teacher today is enrolled in at least one professional online course per year. Online yoga teacher training has become the norm and can be the perfect program for many people.
Online Yoga Teacher Certification – Questions to Ask
If you’re considering an online yoga teacher training course, here are some questions I’d encourage you to ask the course director or graduates to make sure you enroll in a quality training program.
- Question #1 - What portion of the yoga certification course is live?
- Question #2 - Who is teaching the course, and has that person actually had a career teaching yoga?
- Question #3 - Who are your graduates? Are they teaching yoga? Can you connect me to some past students so I can ask them about their experiences in the training program?
- Question #4 - Does everyone graduate from the yoga teacher training program? (if the answer is “yes” it’s a red flag)
- Question #5 - What happens if I’m struggling or need help during the course? Do you offer support?
What are the Downsides of Online Training?
The one big downside of online training is you’re not in the same room as your yoga teacher trainer and other program participants, you cannot chat in the lobby before class, and you cannot go grab a bite to eat after the training session finishes. While none of these things will affect your learning or certification, we are all social beings, and it’s hard to recreate social interactions with online YTT. What is the solution? In my yoga courses, trainees self-organize in-person meetups, yoga trips, retreats, and work exchanges. At YOGABODY, we have monthly online events for alumni and actively organize continuing education training events throughout the world so that after the course, we do have that opportunity to connect in real life at yoga retreats and other events.
Where can I work as a yoga teacher right now?
Yoga has been on a hypergrowth trajectory for over twenty years meaning there are more yoga teaching jobs in more places than ever before. Yoga studios are one obvious option, but there are currently more jobs outside of yoga studios than inside. This includes gyms and fitness centers, schools, corporate wellness, nursing homes, and boutique fitness centers. With your online yoga teacher training and certification, you could even start your own business with your own yoga style.
How much can I earn after taking a yoga teacher training online?
Like all jobs, yoga salaries vary greatly from country to country, city to city; but typical rates start at $25-50 per hour as a yoga teacher and can be two to three times that on the higher end after you have completed yoga teacher training and received your certifications. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average yoga teacher earns $40,000/year—for part-time work. According to CNN Money, a yoga teacher is the #10 most desirable job with a median pay (for senior yoga instructors) of $62,400.