DC-Area Teacher Training

Photo: a kneeling yogi arches his back, another supports him
Gradually loosening the spine, with support from a partner

Having just completed my own stint at yoga teacher training (YTT) and reviewing my web traffic reports, I can see that many visitors are interested in seeing what options are available in the Washington, DC metropolitan area to become a yoga teacher. Please note that this listing is provisional and probably incomplete.

YTT comes in several formats and levels. The Yoga Alliance is the national body that accredits training programs and instructors who completed those programs. It sets two levels of training: 200-hours basic and 300-hour intermediate, which is frequently called 500-hour because the hours are summed to indicate a more advanced level of training.  The yoga studio actually certifies that a student has completed the curriculum satisfactorily. The YA anointment gives a kind of voucher that the teacher is qualified to work in other studios and elsewhere in the country. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s better than having a state agency vetting whether a teacher is qualified.

The most common training format is to meet for one long-weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) a month for nine months. A one-month intensive format requires participants to attend five days a week for eight hours — in other words, full time. These are usually offered in the summer months.  Also see my blog posting about the YTT trend.

Questions you should be asking

About the prospective schools

Photo: yoga class at Thrive Yoga
A wide-legged forward fold or Prasarita Padottanasana
  1. How rounds has the program gone through and how many people have completed the course?
  2. Does the teaching approach and style match your preferences in yoga practice (skills, athleticism, authenticity to some Indian standard)?
  3. What do graduates of the program say about their experience? Do they have opportunities to teach at least community classes after training completion?
  4. Does the studio have an explicit policy on how it deals with its graduates? Some studios will not allow recent graduates to teach there until they have acquired additional experience elsewhere (gyms, schools, other studios, etc.).
  5. Do you enjoy practicing at that yoga studio and with teachers certified by that studio?
  6. Who forms part of the teaching staff? Are outside specialists brought in?
  7. What texts for the core curriculum?

Questions about yourself

  1. Do you want to teach yoga or are your just deepening your practice or understanding of the discipline?
  2. Do you really want to practice teach several hours a day for a week to get it right?

Please note that I cannot vouch for the quality of these training programs. You would be best served by thoroughly investigating the reputation of any yoga studio you are considering. In addition, the 200-hour minimum training does not make you a teacher. You will have to put in hundreds of hours of practicing, prepping, demoing and rehearsing, and then match that with hands-on experience on the mat with real students.  

Washington, DC

Northern Virginia


Other kinds of format

There are several other options for training, including year-round wellness centers. All these options require you to pay for lodging while at the facilities, unless you work out another arrangement.

Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH ) in Lau­rel, MD, will offer a Mas­ter of Sci­ence in Yoga Ther­apy, starting in September.

Other training options include: pre-natal, kids yoga, restorative/gentle yoga, Thai yoga massage therapy, and the list goes on.

Updated: November 13, 2013

Photo: crowded room at a yoga studio
Brian Kest gives a chat before leading a yoga practice at Thrive Yoga

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