Yoga is a mind and body related practice in complementary and alternative medicine that has roots in ancient Indian philosophy. The word "yoga" means union, and practicing yoga is thought to create a union between mind and body. A yoga instructor leads students through exercises that help improve flexibility, strength and balance.
Yoga instructors help to guide students in yoga through a variety of postures, or asanas, and breathing exercises referred to as pranayama. Instructors provide hands-on direction to make sure students are performing movements properly and applying the breathing techniques. Yoga instructors may work in a class or in a one-on-one setting.
Certifications and Qualifications
Training standards are not required throughout the industry, but the nonprofit group Yoga Alliance has established training standards for yoga instructors. Yoga Alliance requires instructors to receive at least 200 training hours, with a specified portion of those hours focusing on techniques, teaching methodology, anatomy, philosophy and physiology, as well as other areas. The Yoga Alliance registers or accredits schools that train students to its standards.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average median earnings for fitness workers -- the category that includes yoga instructors -- in May 2008 were $29,210. The middle 50 percent of yoga instructors earned between $19,610 and $44,420 annually. The bottom 10 percent of earned less than $16,120 with the top 10 percent earning $60,760. These earnings do not include those of workers who are self-employed. The earnings of those successful self-employed yoga instructors can be significantly higher.
If you are interested in starting a career as a yoga instructor, other intangibles may aid in your success. You should have an outgoing personality, be an excellent communicator and good at motivating people, and be sensitive to the needs of others. Excellent health and physical fitness are important as you are a walking presentation of your abilities. If you wish to work in a large health club, strong sales skills are helpful.