How to become a yoga instructor

By Salon Gold on March 10th, 2023

Each month, 79% of adults in the UK report feeling stressed. This is every bit a standard human emotion — but it shouldn’t ever become too much. So, now more than ever, many are turning to stress-busting activities like yoga to take back control of their wellness. Yoga has been shown to help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, enhancing well-being, mindfulness, and even sleep quality.

If you’re passionate about making a difference in people’s lives, and love the art of yoga, becoming an instructor might be the career path for you.

However, it’s not just something you can fall into. To become an authority on all things asana, you’ll need to build the education, experience and credentials of a competent yogi. If this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. Here are our tips on how to become a yoga instructor.

1. Yoga teacher training

There are a number of ways to train in yoga teaching, and no strict ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ — below are some of the most common routes.

Level 3 Diploma

The Level 3 Diploma in Teaching Yoga is an internationally recognised qualification for those wanting to teach in classes or one-on-one settings. The course covers the history and philosophies of yoga, with subtopics such as understanding asana, pranayama breathing, mindfulness, teaching methods, physiology, and health and safety. As an entry-level accreditation, you’ll need no prior qualifications to sign on for a course. However, you will require a basic understanding of the philosophies of yoga and some experience in its practice — with some schools stipulating two years’ minimum class experience.

But if you’re coming in at an inexperienced level, how long does it take to become a yoga instructor? A standard course takes around 200 hours, typically completed part-time from six to 12 months or as part of an intensive training programme in four to six weeks. Training can be done face-to-face or in an online classroom, and is accredited by official boards in the UK such as British Wheel of Yoga and Yoga Alliance.

Learning on the job

Of course, the alternative route to train as a teacher is to gain experience on the job. Many choose not to follow the formal diploma route as you don’t necessarily need a qualification to instruct yoga, even if it can help provide the experience and contacts to pursue it as a career in the UK. Instead, you can train as a studio apprentice until you’re ready to take on your own classes, gaining real-world experience and learning on the job. This can help you to get to know your local yoga community and build your network, which will be useful when it comes time to find a job or build your client base.

Alternatively, you could even learn your trade overseas, with various international training programmes available in countries such as Indonesia and Costa Rica. At these yoga ‘retreats’, guests can immerse themselves in the culture of a yoga practitioner, within an environment that embeds practice into the everyday. If you’re looking for an authentic experience to fast-track the teachings of styles like Vinyasa or Hatha yoga, going to a studio abroad might be the option for you.

2. Build your career

Once you’re fully trained, you’ll need to decide how you’d like to pursue a career in teaching yoga.

Select a niche

As you probably know, there are various different styles of yoga that you can specialise in, originating from destinations all over the world. Each type has its own trademark poses, breathing techniques and values attached, so finding the right one for you will be a personal journey as you become an instructor. Your particular niche might be informed by the style that you were taught, or you might conduct your own research and find that you’d prefer to instruct using another yoga style, or a blend of several.

These are some of the most popular variations of yoga, according to teachers from mindbodygreen:

  • Vinyasa
  • Hatha
  • Iyengar
  • Kundalini
  • Ashtanga
  • Bikram
  • Yin
  • Restorative

Choose how you’d like to teach

The classic route that a yoga instructor follows is to go into class teaching, as a self-employed instructor renting a space or working for a fitness studio. If you choose this path, you can expect to be paid per hour according to the classes you teach, with Indeed reporting that the average salary for an instructor in the UK is £25 per hour.

However, this is far from the only career path that instructors can choose to follow. You might wish to take clients one-to-one alongside personal training, perform online workouts, create content for YouTube, or even work on a cruise ship teaching classes to guests. 

Once you’ve established yourself as an instructor, there are many different routes that you can take to practise yoga how you like, and continue to develop your skills and knowledge as an instructor.

3. Sort out the legalities

Lastly, you’ll need to address the legalities involved with instructing yoga safely and successfully.

Assess your taxes

Because many yoga instructors choose to go self-employed, it becomes their responsibility to pay their taxes correctly. If you’re working at a fitness centre or wellness studio on a salaried employee contract, this might not apply to you — but if you’re running your own private classes, you’ll need to make sure that you’re taking due diligence. Otherwise, you could be stung by legal challenges and expensive fees.

Some yoga instructors choose to become sole traders and pay income tax and national insurance based on their profits. If this is the case, you’ll need to set up a business bank account, keep a record of all your finances, and submit an annual self-assessment to pay your tax each year. Alternatively, you might choose to establish a limited company for your yoga business. In this case, the proceedings look a bit different — you’ll need to register with HMRC and carry out a tax return each year. If you’re unsure, we recommend reading up on company tax returns or seeking legal advice to help you do so correctly.

Get insured

You’re almost there. The final step to becoming a yoga instructor is to make sure you’re appropriately insured. This is because you need to protect yourself and your clients against incidents such as injury, theft, loss and damage to your studio or equipment. This applies if you’re teaching both in a physical studio or conducting online classes.

Here at Salon Gold, we provide comprehensive Yoga Insurance to cover your business. Each of our insurance policies are designed specifically to the needs of different practitioners in the holistic and complementary therapy space. Our Yoga Insurance includes public liability cover, professional treatment risk insurance, products liability and financial loss insurance so that you can teach with peace of mind.

No matter the kind of policy you need, we can help. Get a quote today and find out more about how Salon Gold can safeguard your business.

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