Different yoga accreditation bodies
Getting a yoga teacher training qualification is an important step in your journey to becoming a yoga instructor. While various institutions offer yoga teacher training courses, you must ensure that the tutor/organisation you choose is accredited by a recognised body to offer training to prospective yoga teachers.
This guide provides an objective overview of the main yoga accreditation bodies active in the UK.
- Yoga Alliance Professionals
- Independent Yoga Network (IYN)
- Yoga Alliance
- British Wheel of Yoga (BWY)
- Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs)
These bodies set the standards for yoga teacher training programs around the world. In doing so, they determine which tutors/organisations meet certain minimum teaching standards – encompassing knowledge, experience, and skills. To avoid any conflict of interest, most of these organisations don’t deliver the qualifications that they accredit.
The type of accreditation you gain will define your yoga teacher career path moving forward. If you’re considering training to become a yoga teacher, first understand the values and standards of different yoga accreditation bodies, as well as the benefits they offer to qualified teachers.
Yoga Alliance Professionals
Yoga Alliance Professionals is a UK headquartered international yoga accreditation body. It was founded in 2006 and initially called Yoga Alliance UK, following preliminary discussions with the US organisation (see below) about establishing a UK branch. Nothing came of this, and Yoga Alliance Professionals remains independent and unaffiliated with any other yoga accrediting body. A long term plan is to drop the word ‘Alliance’ from its name.
Its founding vision was to tackle declining standards in yoga teacher training. During its 14+ year history, Yoga Alliance Professionals has done this successfully by helping to professionalise the global industry and promote yoga teaching as a career.
Before applying to a Yoga Alliance Professionals accredited teacher training course, you must have at least two years’ experience of practising yoga. Trainers are encouraged to ask for evidence and interview prospective students before admitting them on to a course. The course itself must also dedicate 20% of contact hours to teaching practice.
Following the completion of a Yoga Alliance Professionals accredited course, the organisation offers a clear career path for its members, with four additional stages covering eight years of experience. Members can choose to work their way through the different levels, from Yoga Teacher to Experienced Yoga Teacher (EYT), to Senior Yoga Teacher (SYT), and finally, Trainer.
Completing a Yoga Alliance Professionals accredited teacher training course will make you eligible to join its global database of teachers. Members also benefit from access to yoga teacher insurance and other useful resources. As a non-profit organisation, Yoga Alliance Professionals re-invests 100% of its membership fees into tools and campaigns that help promote yoga teaching as a career.
There are over 8,000 Yoga Alliance Professionals members worldwide, encompassing a broad range of yoga lineages. Interestingly, only around 300 Yoga Alliance Professionals teacher training courses currently exist. It’s a comparatively low number explained by its high standards and the fact that only Senior Yoga Teachers with at least 8 years’ teaching experience can set-up teacher training courses.
Furthermore, 70% of any Yoga Alliance Professionals teacher training course must be delivered by a Senior Yoga Teacher.
Here is how they describe the difference between themselves and Yoga Alliance
Independent Yoga Network (IYN)
The Independent Yoga Network is a UK headquartered international yoga accreditation body. Established in 2004, the organisation’s founding aim was to offer a counter-narrative to attempts by the UK sporting industry to standardise yoga teaching practice. Having succeeded, IYN now exists to celebrate yoga in all its diversity, offering accredited status to a broad range of yoga training schools.
In completing a yoga teacher training course at an Independent Yoga Network accredited institution, you are eligible to join its global database of teachers. Today, there are over 900 yoga teachers and around 50 yoga schools registered on the Independent Yoga Network, worldwide.
The IYN also accepts members who have trained elsewhere and/or are accredited by other bodies. This means teachers can honour their ‘own philosophical and practical approach to Yoga.’ Its members include ‘Yoga Elders’ with at least 5,000 hours of yoga teaching experience. As well as those with other 200-hour accredited qualifications, plus at least 4 years of regular practice and 100 hours teaching experience.
Whichever membership route you take, prospective Independent Yoga Network members must demonstrate how their practice adheres to Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), and Svadhyaya (self-study), the principles which underpin the IYN’s purpose. In addition to free advertising, members also benefit from access to the Independent Yoga Network’s comprehensive Yoga Teachers’ insurance policy.
To establish and deliver an accredited Independent Yoga Network teacher training course, registered teachers must have at least 10 years of solid teaching experience.
Headquartered in the USA, Yoga Alliance is an international yoga accreditation body. Established in 1999, its founding vision was to create national standards for training yoga teachers.
Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teachers (RYT) are representative of a wide variety of yoga lineages. In completing a yoga teacher training course at a Yoga Alliance accredited institution, you are eligible to join its global database of teachers. Today, there are over 60,000 yoga teachers and around 4,000 yoga schools registered on the Yoga Alliance directory, worldwide.
In addition to the advertising opportunities available, there is credibility associated with having RYT status which can boost your teaching opportunities. Members can also access special deals for yoga teacher insurance, legal advice, materials, and equipment. Though like any other membership program, there are application, registration, and renewal fees involved.
To create a yoga teacher training course, a Yoga Alliance RYT must first achieve Continuing Education Provider (YACEP) status. This means they will have at least 4 years – and a minimum of 2000 hours – of yoga teaching experience since becoming a RYT. Furthermore, 75% of any Yoga Alliance teacher training course must be delivered by a YACEP.
British Wheel of Yoga (BWY)
Established in 1965, the British Wheel of Yoga is a UK-only yoga accreditation body. The organisation has 11 regional branches covering England, Wales, and Scotland. Its founding aim is to promote a greater understanding of yoga and its safe practise through experience, education, study, and training.
Unlike other yoga accrediting bodies, the British Wheel of Yoga offers its own bespoke yoga teacher training program. This 500-hour course is the equivalent of a Level 4 Diploma in the UK. It can take 12 to 30 months to complete, depending on the school/individual delivering the qualification.
The BWY accredits individuals/yoga training schools to deliver this qualification, as well as shorter 12 month/300+ hour teacher training programs. These other certifications are unregulated and don’t carry Level 4 Diploma status. Regardless of which route you take, the learning emphasis of these qualifications is always on “how to teach.” There are currently 9 BWY Accredited Training Organisations, as well as hundreds of BWY Diploma Course Tutors (DCTs) operating across the UK.
Anyone can become a member of the British Wheel of Yoga and attend BWY yoga classes. In completing a British Wheel of Yoga accredited teacher training course, you are eligible to join its database of teachers. Members also benefit from the BWY yoga teacher insurance policy, invitations to events, and discounted equipment.
Tutors on a BWY teacher training program must have a minimum of 5 years of teaching experience. All teaching experience should have occurred since gaining a BWYQ Diploma in Teaching Yoga.
Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs)
Launched in 2002, The Register of Exercise Professionals is a UK fitness industry accreditation body. Its founding aim was to protect the public from trainers/instructors working in gyms, schools, or fitness centres who do not hold appropriate qualifications.
Gaining a REPs accredited qualification means that employers within the UK fitness industry are assured that you have the right knowledge, competence, and skills to perform your role.
Yoga is one of several fitness categories accredited by REPs. However, as there is no legal jurisdiction over the teaching of yoga in the UK, it’s at the employer’s (gyms, schools, or fitness centre) discretion whether or not a yoga instructor holds a REPs recognised qualification.
Those wishing to qualify as yoga instructors through REPs must complete a Level 3 Diploma In Teaching Yoga. This qualification is delivered by various REPs accredited training providers across the UK. It’s a 400-hour course, delivered over 3 to 4 months. Some training providers state that there are no formal entry requirements to join the course, though others ask that you have a minimum of two years’ yoga experience.
Once qualified, REPs members benefit from being part of a 20,000 strong database of registered trainers. They also gain access to discounts on branded merchandise and clothing. Qualifications are recognised overseas too. While a REPs accredited Level 3 Diploma may boost your chance of getting hired in a gym, it’s unlikely that a yoga studio would consider your application over someone with an accredited qualification from any of the other bodies discussed here.
Yoga teachers wishing to join REPs having already gained another accredited yoga teaching qualification can do so via a specific yoga teacher application process. Applications are independently assessed by a panel of yoga teachers and not by REPs employees. Those with IYN or BWY accredited qualifications may find their application is fast-tracked.
It’s unclear how experienced you must be to deliver a REPs accredited Level 3 Diploma In Teaching Yoga. As REPs offer members opportunities to train as Course Tutors after gaining a Level 3 qualification, we can assume that most Tutors will have both qualifications.
The above is gathered from public sources and is for information purposes only. If there are any errors or discrepancies with the content presented, please let us know and we will be happy to update it.