yoga teacher training

200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training: Top 13 Red Flags when picking a Yoga Course

Are you dreaming of becoming a yoga teacher ? Before committing to the practice, it’s crucial to know that a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training is not just a place to learn how to lead yoga classes. It should be a sacred space for you to explore your practice, deepen your understanding of yourself, and stretch into your infinite potential.

Sadly, with the rising emergence of yoga teacher trainings around the world, it is difficult to decipher which are the high quality programs and which are not.

Spotting the Warning Signs of 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Courses

Choosing the wrong programs can leave you unprepared and with an unrecognized certification. Without proper vetting, students risk wasting time and money on poor-quality training that fails to equip them to teach yoga practice safely and effectively.

Here are the top 13 red flags to look out for when choosing a Yoga certification course:

Ideally , before committing to a program, it’s best to research about the yoga schools and your future yoga trainers. Make sure you value their knowledge and experience. Most importantly, do you resonate with their personalities and vibe? Remember, you’ll be spending a lot of time with your trainers during teacher training, you’d want to be able to relax and have a good laugh with them at the end of a hard day.
red flags yoga teacher training infographics

1. The yoga school is not Yoga Alliance registered.

Let’s clarify something first. Being a Yoga Alliance registered school does not warrant a high quality yoga program. Anyone can apply by submitting an online application and easily get approved. This being said, there are some recent changes in Yoga Alliance and the new approval process is tightening up, which means schools and trainers will need to meet and adhere to a level of standard.

Nevertheless, for all existing registered yoga schools, there is a level of transparency where you can look up their curriculums, read reviews, and find out who the trainers are. When a school is unregistered, there is almost zero screening and transparency, which means your source of information could boil down to the school’s website and social media platforms, which can be biased and misleading.

Jules McDonald, an owner and instructor at YogaBliss, recently earned her second 200-hour Rocket Yoga certification and acceptance into RYS, on top of several other certifications she’s been earning since 2018. She explains how selecting a training that isn’t registered with Yoga Alliance could affect your business:

“Choosing a yoga teacher training not registered with Yoga Alliance may limit my professional opportunities, as most studios will only hire instructors with YA certification. It will affect my credibility and marketability in the industry. Additionally, most students prefer instructors with Yoga Alliance recognition, limiting my potential client base.”

2. Absence of Techniques, Training, and Practice From a Registered Yoga School

The standards for a 200 Hour Registered Yoga School (RYS) require a minimum of 75 contact hours and 50 contact hours with lead trainers.

Choosing a 200-hour yoga teacher training program without proper techniques, training, and practice is a red flag because the program may lack credentials, oversight, and a standardized curriculum. This could result in inadequate or unsafe training that fails to prepare you to teach yoga competently and safely.

3. Big group size

yoga teacher training

The number of yoga practitioners is expected to hit 350 million by the end of the decade. From my 10 year experience of leading 200 Hour yoga teacher training, it is noticeable that the optimal teacher training group size is between 15-24.

When teaching yoga to 25 people or more, there may be less personal attention or individual contact time with your teacher or less opportunity to ask questions. You may also struggle to express your opinions and develop a proper understanding of the practice.

Important Note
With large group sizes, it’s harder for you to form close connections with your fellow trainees. Plus, you won’t receive much personal guidance from the teacher. It also suggests the school is more profit-driven rather than focusing on providing you the best learning experience possible.

4. No Yoga Philosophy, Lifestyle and Ethics Lessons for Yoga Teachers

    A survey from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association shows that more than 24 million adult Americans practice yoga, making it as popular as golf. To be able to teach students, your training hours should have a 20-hour minimum requirement for:
  • Philosophies
  • Lifestyle lessons
  • Ethics

The absence of philosophy, lifestyle, or ethics lessons can result in programs lacking critical foundational teachings on the deeper meaning and purpose behind yoga. Without grounding in yoga’s origins and moral code, you will miss the core context needed for safe, ethical, and enriching instruction.

Wenlin Tan, a women’s Qigong & Yoga Specialist (E-RYT 500, YACEP Yoga Alliance USA), shares why she thinks this is a red flag:

Yoga Philosophy, Lifestyle, and Ethics lie at the heart of teaching Yoga. The first two of the eight limbs of Yoga, Yamas and Niyamas, focus exclusively on yogic philosophy and how we can apply this off the mat in real life. Internationally-accredited alliances such as Yoga Alliance USA also have a minimum requirement of 20 contact hours of Yoga Philosophy curriculum for a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training. As such, I would be doubtful of the credibility of a 200 hour Yoga teacher training that lacks Yoga philosophy.

5. Very short duration

yoga teacher training

On average, it takes at least 22 to 24 days to complete a 200 hour yoga teacher training.
Under Yoga Alliance policy, a 200 hour teacher training requires 185 contact hours (in-person or online) and 15 non-contact hours such as reading assignments and practicum. This is to assure that the majority of your training hours go to real interaction with your trainers where you’ll get feedback and asked questions.

When a training duration is shorter than 22 days (there are trainings that are only 14 days), it is impossible to cover all of the hours or the days will be extremely long, and you might end up too exhausted to learn anything.

6. Lack of Anatomy and Physiology Techniques

    Lessons for yoga teachers should include a minimum of 10 contact hours for anatomy and physiology. A minimum of five hours must be dedicated to these learning objectives:
  • Human and energy anatomy
  • Application to yoga practice
  • Benefits, contraindications, and healthy movement patterns

Neglecting anatomy and physiology techniques in teacher training courses risks producing teachers without the knowledge to safely guide students through poses, modifications, and optimal alignment for different body types. Without a science-based understanding of muscles, joints, and body mechanics, you can unknowingly push students into unsafe territory, resulting in student injury.

7.Too many trainers or unclear teaching faculty

    Sometimes you might come across schools with dozens of ‘lead trainers’ listed on their website. At first, the diversity of teachers might impress you into thinking more is better. Why not learn from them all? But, it generally doesn’t meet the expectation you might conceive.
    Here are two potential culprits in having a large faculty team:
  • There might not be a big team at all
  • Too many opinions and lack of leadership

The first culprit of a large teaching team is that there might not actually be a big team.

Often, Yoga schools hire different trainers for their programs throughout the year. Not all trainers teach the training, and the school just lists everyone for convenience. Some trainers might be more experienced than others, leading to inconsistent results making it hard to tell whether the school is good.

Secondly, trainers often come from different yoga backgrounds and have their own way of seeing how yoga works. Conflicts may arise when there are too many trainers due to crashing opinions, emotional volatility, and a lack of leadership.

Important Note
The lead trainer is the heart of the teacher training. Like a captain of a ship, your trainer sets sail to your transformative journey despite rough seas and challenges. If you are checking out a teacher training with many trainers, try to find out whether it is a cohesive team with strong leadership.

8. Only one trainer

As opposed to the previous point, having only one lead trainer in your 200 hour teacher training can also be a huge red flag. Even if this trainer is very experienced, the fact that there is only one teacher is worrying because you will learn best by being exposed to different experiences, backgrounds, and teaching styles.

In addition, you might not receive as much personal attention and feedback, since there are too many students to tend to.

9. Not focusing on teaching techniques

Watch out for schools that focus too much on direct experiences and not enough attention on developing your teaching skills. These schools often provide an ‘ashram-like’ experience, where you spend many hours doing asana (physical postures) on the mat, meditating, and doing karma (selfless) services like cleaning the shala or cooking meals.

Over the years, I have taught many students who already had completed a yoga teacher training but didn’t learn to teach a well rounded yoga class with confidence and safety.

It takes tremendous skills to teach Yoga. Verbal cueing, alignment, physical adjustments, public speaking, timing, scripting, holding space, and sequencing are few examples of such abilities needed to deliver a transformative yoga class. These are important skills to learn in depth and become confident within your 200 hour yoga teacher training. So check the school curriculum and find out if they focused on the art of teaching and have the right methodology and hours to deliver it professionally.

10. Too many days off or cultural activities.

yoga teacher training

With too many days off, breaks, and cultural experiences, it becomes more like a holiday than a 200 hour yoga teacher training. Unlike yoga retreats, a yoga course shouldn’t have too many days off or relaxing hours within a teaching day. Trainees should be focused with the right amount of time off to relax the mind and recuperate the body.

Important Note
Like most other professions, training is to be taken seriously with a daily schedule and learning objectives. When a school offers too many days off and cultural activities, it’s a red flag that either the program is incomplete or lacks the discipline to help trainees achieve their goals.

11. Multiple styles of yoga

When a yoga school offers five or six styles of yoga, it becomes a yoga buffet with too much information or shallow depths of teaching that leave the students feeling overwhelmed or dissatisfied. This being said, there are complementary styles like Vinyasa and Yin yoga that, when taught properly, provide trainees with more knowledge and tools.

Amy Ling, who holds an MA in Yoga and Meditation Traditions and Medical Anthropology, shares why too many styles of yoga can be a red flag:

“Teacher trainings which offer many different yoga styles may seem like a great way to cover all bases. However, it is likely that within a 200hr schedule, you won’t have the chance to explore each in depth. A true yogi’s path requires patience and discipline, so while it is good to have a little knowledge and experience within a variety of styles, when embarking on a 200hr YTT, seek out an expert in your favorite style to set yourself apart from the rest.”

12. The trainers are not dedicated yoga practitioners

If your trainers don’t dedicate time to deepening their spiritual and physical practices, it’s doubtful they will inspire you to develop your personal practice. Yoga teachers who find inspiration from their personal practices are often those who lead a long lasting career. You want to start your journey with trainers who help you set up good habits.

It is also important to find out how experienced your trainers are in leading yoga teacher trainings. According to Yoga Alliance, any yoga teachers with two years of teaching experience are qualified to lead their own courses.

Since there is a definite difference between teaching classes and leading yoga trainings, most experienced teachers find it tricky leading trainings at the start and need a few advanced yoga trainings to get their bearings.

When choosing your 200 Hour yoga teacher training, best is to look for lead trainers that have a decade of experience in teaching yoga classes and at few years in leading yoga trainings. It’s a great indication that you will receive great knowledge and insights on teaching Yoga.

13. Very few reviews

yoga teacher training

When there aren’t many reviews or testimonials available, this implies that the school is either very new and hasn’t trained many people yet or hasn’t received good enough feedback that it is willing to share.

If there are negative reviews, this is not necessarily bad, because it shows a level of honesty and transparency from the school. Interestingly, many positive reviews don’t always imply a high quality school either. Your best unfiltered place to check on reviews is Yoga Alliance. It’s the equivalent of TripAdvisor, where you get more transparency and decide for yourself whether this school is good.

Becoming a yoga teacher is truly one of the most transformative experiences in the world. Use caution when selecting schools, and continually elevate your practice after graduation through self-directed learning, assisting, and practicing refinement of sequencing skills.


Is 200 Hours Enough to Teach Yoga?

The 200-hour certification is enough to teach yoga because it meets the basic requirements to begin offering instruction, providing an introduction to poses, sequencing, cueing, adjustments, anatomy, and methodology. While not exhaustive, when supplemented with dedicated personal practice, a senior teacher, and ongoing education, 200 hours gives an adequate foundation to start teaching.

How Long Does It Take To Complete 200 Hours of YTT?

Most YTT teaching programs take between four and eight weeks, with an average of about one month’s duration. Programs must include a minimum of 185 contact hours with instructors and 15 non-contact hours for other learning.

What Is a 200 Hour Yoga Teaching Qualification?

The 200 hour certification is the basic credential indicating completion of foundational instructor training according to standards outlined by the Yoga Alliance. After graduation, the “RYT-200” designation signifies qualification to instruct basic yoga classes and asanas, though further training is encouraged.

About Annie Au

E-RYT 500, Writer

Annie is the lead trainer of the Yin Yang Yoga Teacher Training at All Yoga. She is also the creator of the Soulful Yin Yoga Method, the only Yin Yoga teacher training that specializes in the emotional side of yin yoga and Chinese meridians. Annie embarked on her spiritual journey over 10 years ago. Struggled with anxiety most of her adult life, Annie was tired of living life in chronic fear & despair, she searched for ways to reclaim her happiness. In the last decade, Annie traveled around the world leading yoga teacher trainings while exploring her own spiritual path.

From studying Taoism and Chinese meridians, Anne recognizes the intrinsic connection between our body and emotions. If our physical health declines, it directly affects our mood and therefore affects how we make choices in life. This finding has propelled Annie to create a course that helps others to connect with their emotions so that they can cultivate balances in life.

Applying the decade of experiences and knowledge Annie has acquired, her signature Soulful Yin Yoga Method is designed to help others become a master of their own emotions so that they can be in tune with their truest selves.

Annie holds a Bachelor Degree in Human Kinetics from the University of British Columbia. She is trained in Functional Range Conditioning (FRC) and specializes in yoga anatomy. Annie’s approachable teaching method helps students understand their body and practice more intelligently.

Currently, Annie lives in Sri Lanka with her husband and travels to Thailand several times per year leading 200hr Yin Yang Yoga Teacher Trainings.

For free yin yoga, Chinese meridians, and emotional healing tips, follow her on Instagram here.

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