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200RYT, 500RYT, Yoga Teacher - What's the difference?

Melissa Albarran

Written by Melissa Albarran

200RYT, 500RYT, Yoga Teacher - What's the difference?

At some stage during your yoga teaching career, it’s likely you will come across the terms 200RYT and 500RYT. 

I often receive questions from yoga teachers asking how they can obtain the revered 500RYT status as if it were the holy grail of yoga teaching excellence. 

While it is very much populated and upheld in yoga circles, 200, 300 and 500RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) relates to the hours of training a qualified teacher has under his or her belt. While this is a good indicator of the level of education acquired by the teacher, it does little to show their teaching experience. 

Essentially, this means that a teacher who has completed say, an intensive 200-hour training followed by a 300-hour course in the space of a year, but hasn’t taught a single lesson, would be deemed more qualified than somebody who graduated from a 200hr training 6 years ago and has been teaching ever since. I don’t know about you...but something doesn’t add up to me. 

Of course, there is nothing to say that the two aforementioned training courses are not of the very best quality, leaving the teacher in question fully equipped to begin a class, in theory. But, theory can only go so far, and without practical experience, what is to say this highly knowledgeable graduate will be able to lead a class?

So how do you get around it? How do you clearly and concisely show a teacher’s individual experience to the prospective student? Well, for starters, let’s take both training hours and teaching experience into account, giving a more well-rounded understanding of the teacher’s “level”. What’s more, where individuals have dedicated themselves to specialising in a certain area, say, children’s yoga, it is necessary to indicate this unique skill set to the general public. 

Greater transparency is desperately needed in the yoga profession. Try as it might, the prefix of a 3 digit number will simply not suffice. 

The team here at Yoga Alliance Professionals cannot “govern”, “control” or “police” yoga (and you’re kidding yourself if you think any organisation can). However, we can require total transparency of our members’ teaching experience, training, further education and specialisms. It is why we have always stood by a Career Path that takes both training and teaching experience into account, and why we have developed a badge system that clearly indicates a teacher’s unique field of expertise.

Of course, use the 200RYT designation if you so wish, but do so knowing that chasing the next hundred-hour status will not necessarily make you a more proficient, or respected, teacher. Time spent leading a class of watchful students, however, most certainly will.

Topics: Senior Yoga Teacher journey yoga teacher teaching Membership Levels