Did you know that in Australia there is no mandated qualification required for someone to call themselves a yoga teacher?
This might come as a shock. Most folk would not submit themselves to an unqualified anything, but especially someone who is meant to be able to give you advice pertaining to those precious commodities, your body and your mind. And yet it is the truth. Anyone at all can hang out a shingle and call themselves a yoga teacher.
As a result, in Australia there is a huge range of different levels of qualifications amongst yoga teachers, some with no qualifications and some with hours and hours of relevant study under their belt.
There are also a number of different organisations who train and or register yoga teachers, and it can be a minefield to try to understand it all. The main players in Australia are:
Yoga Australia is not a provider of yoga teacher training but a peak body that registers yoga teachers and yoga therapists, as well as yoga teaching and yoga therapy training courses.
Yoga Australia has several levels of membership
Yoga Australia sets a standard of a minimum of 350 hours of training to be a registered teacher with them. These 350 hours need to be in a range of curriculum areas with a certain number of hours dedicated to each curriculum area, so a registered yoga teacher with Yoga Australia will have covered:
In addition a registered training course with Yoga Australia must take a minimum of 12 months to complete in recognition that it takes months to fully integrate and embody the training to be a competent teacher.
To maintain membership of Yoga Australia a yoga teacher must also demonstrate ongoing Continuing Professional Development and maintenance of first aid qualifications.
Yoga Teachers may also progress through three levels of registered membership which required much more training than the minimum Continuing Professional Development:
The International Yoga Teachers Association (IYTA) was founded in Australia in 1967 by Roma Blair. It has members and students all over Australia and internationally.
IYTA is a training organisation as well as maintaining registered members. Their basic training is the International Diploma of Yoga Teaching (460 hours) conducted over 10 study weekends and a 6 day residential. The IYTA Diploma of Yoga Teaching fully complies with the requirements of Yoga Australia as a registered training course and its graduates are eligible to also be members of Yoga Australia.
The IYTA also provides Continuing Professional Development and offers Post Graduate training in specialty areas.
Read more about IYTA
The Iyengar lineage maintains its own training registration under very strict conditions. Training is rigorous and takes many years.
Yoga Alliance (YA) began in the United States but has now spread across the world. It started in the late 1990s with US teachers beginning to talk about setting standards, and evolved int a not-for-profit organisation called Yoga Alliance.
There are three designations
Whereas the parent organisation in the US has two levels, 200 hour and 500 hour, YA Australia has introduced more levels, 350 hour and 1500 hour, possibly to meet the higher required standards of Yoga Australia. These are expressed as:
RYT-200 teachers can only join Yoga Australia as Provisional teaching members and must complete further training in order to become fully registered members.
To be a YA registered teacher you must undertake your training at a YA Registered training school. To be a YA Registered Training School you must have top level YA Registered Teachers as the faculty of the training program. There is now a mechanism to convert to a Yoga Alliance registration, at least in Australia, and the Australian Yoga Alliance organisation is taking steps to address an identified "proliferation of low quality yoga teacher training, inadequately trained yoga teachers and unscrupulous providers who deliver substandard training". (Yoga Alliance Australia website accessed 22 June 2018).
While Yoga Alliance has lifted its game, at least in Australia, it's qualifications levels are complex and they have a number of different badges to designate their registered schools and registered teachers. It can be confusing.
An IYTA teacher and an Iyengar teacher will be adequately trained.
Besides the Iyengar lineage, most lineages fit their training into either the Yoga Alliance or the Yoga Australia model.
Appropriately qualified teachers from any lineage can register with Yoga Australia. The Yoga Australia badge of a registered yoga teacher is a very good indicator of their training. You can search for the teacher on the Yoga Australia website to see if they are a registered teacher with Yoga Australia.
(Author, Tina Shettigara)