There are some who take yoga teacher training courses just to gain a higher level of knowledge. But they are the minority. Most people who pursue a YTT course do it to become a yoga training instructor. Those pursuing it for improving their experience level have a lot of independence regarding what path they want to follow. But for those who aim to become a yoga teacher, there is a set course you must take. This course is determined by the Yoga Alliance. It is a not-for-profit private organisation. It acts as the gatekeeper for the world of yoga learning and advances yoga teacher training. As we already mentioned, it decides the curriculum for the YTTCs, sets the standards for certified yoga teachers and yoga schools and also awards suitable candidates the badge for realising those standards.
Just passing the 200-hour YTTC and registering as an RYT 200 does not make you a qualified yoga teacher. You must teach for at least 1000 hours over 2 years to become an E-RYT 200 or up-to-two Experienced RYT. But most yoga teachers do not want to stop there. The E-RYT 200 is only a stepping stone to a more professional level of a yoga trainer. This is the RYT 500, obtained through the 500-hour yoga teacher training course. This, with 2000 hours of teaching experience over 4 years, with 500 after graduation, converts to E-RYT 500. Till now, the RYT 500 teacher training is the highest tier on the path to becoming a lead yoga trainer. The Yoga Alliance is yet to create any higher advanced yoga teacher training course for mastery level credentials.
Breakdown of the 500-Hour Yoga Teacher Training Syllabus
The Yoga Alliance has laid down the curriculum that any RYS 200, RYS 300 or RYS 500 must follow to provide the 500-hour yoga teacher training course. The current standards consist of 5 educational categories. These, along with the topics to be covered and the hours to be dedicated to each are listed below:
Techniques, Training and Practice
This covers the technical aspects of yoga training. You will have to learn about different asanas (poses), pranayamas (breathing techniques), kriyas (cleansing techniques), chanting and mantras, mudra (gestures), meditation and other yoga techniques. You will not only be learning the techniques themselves but also how to practise them yourself and teach it to others. It takes up 150 mandatory hours. Of these, a minimum of 100 must be contact hours and with the lead trainer only.
Under this, you will learn the teaching aspect of yoga training. You will learn about communication skills, teaching styles, the learning process of a student and how to adapt to different learning styles and needs of your students. You will also be learning the different principles of demonstration. Alongside, you will know about observation and how to use its power in assisting, teaching and correcting. There are 30 hours allotted to this. Of that, a minimum of 20 hours must be contact hours and all of them must be with the lead trainer.
Anatomy and Physiology
This encompasses the topics of human physiology and anatomy both in biological and yogic (chakra, Nadi, bandha, etc) terms. You will learn the effect of each yoga practice on the physical and pranic anatomy and physiology of a human being. It gets 35 hours, of which 20 must be contact hours.
Yoga Philosophy, Lifestyle and Ethics for Yoga Teachers
As the name suggests, this section teaches students about various Yoga history and philosophies, especially traditional literature on yoga, the yogic lifestyle and principles, ethics or yoga training and the fulfilment in your service as a yoga teacher. There are 60 hours for this, with 45 being contact hours.
This is the practical part of the curriculum. You must practise, learn and improve your skills as a yoga teacher. This includes practising as a lead trainer, assisting, observing and reviewing. It gets 40 hours. Of this, 20 must be contact hours and 10 must be contact hours with the lead trainer.
If you calculate the contact hours from here, you will get 205 hours. Now 450 of the 500 hours must be contact hours and the rest 50 may be contact or non-contact, as you deem fit. This means there are 245 more hours to account for. You can allot and distribute these among the various educational categories depending on which you want to focus on.
How Will the New Yoga Alliance Standards Affect the 500-Hour YTTC
By the earlier Yoga Alliance model, you could be a lead trainer as an E-RYT 200 or an E-RYT 500. A lead trainer basically means an advance yoga teacher in Yoga Alliance terms. Of the 200 hours of training, 65 had to be under the lead trainer. But according to the new standards, from February 2022, the only way to become a lead trainer would be by gaining the E-RYT 500 badge. Also, 150 hours of the 200 had to be taught by the lead trainer. Also, every yoga trainer, upon receiving their RYT 200 badge, would also have to sign the Shared Ethical Commitment.
This means that the demand for the 500-hour yoga teacher training would increase. It is true that students can still take the 200-hour YTTC first, take a break and then gain the rest 300 hours of training from an RYS 200 or an RYS 300. But, students used to take this path mainly because they had the choice to keep on teaching as an E-RYT 200 only in case they did not want to or could not pursue E-RYT 500. But now that it has become mandatory, more students would want to complete it in one go.
In fact, the Yoga Alliance has provided the best 500-hour yoga teacher training pathway to follow. You have to first graduate from an RYS 200 and become an RYT 200. After obtaining 30 Continuing Education Credits over 3 years, you have to graduate from an RYS 300 or an RYS 500 to become an RYT 500. You have to teach a minimum of 200 hours over 4 or more years, 500 of which must be after graduation. Now you become an E-RYT 500. You are now eligible to be an assistant teacher trainer. With enough experience, you will be able to become a lead trainer.