How Yoga Alliance Works: Five FAQs Answered

yoga certification yoga alliance accredited

This comes in response to the many emails we receive asking for more information about how yoga certification works. The information is relevant not only to Pavones Yoga Center yoga teacher trainings, but to all yoga schools who comply with Yoga Alliance standards at the 200-hour and 500-hour levels.

1.  To register as a teacher with Yoga Alliance, do you have to study at the same yoga school? 

Yes and no. There are two levels (200-hour and 500-hour) of accreditation through Yoga Alliance. You can receive your 200-hours at a registered Yoga Alliance accredited school at either the 200- or 500-hour level. Then you can opt to either continue your studies at the same school, or you can explore a different school for the final 300 hours. Those 300 hours must be completed at the same location. (You can’t take three 100-hour modules at different locations).

Many yoga students who already have a 200-hour certification want to know if they can take PYC’s month-long 200-hour  Multidimensional Yoga Teacher  Training course plus the 100-hour module that follows it (depending upon the season, typically either The Art of Flow or The Anatomy of Self) to receive their advanced 500-hour certification. Yoga Alliance does not allow teachers to combine two different 200-hour trainings toward their advanced certification. In this case 200 + 200 does not equal 400.

2.  Do you have to graduate within a certain amount of time?

Yoga Alliance does not set a time limit during which students must complete their studies. It is up to each registered yoga school to decide whether to set a time limit for completion of studies.

There are programs that span a year or two, and month-long intensives. Be wary of programs offering 200-hour certification in three weeks or less. Time to relax at the beach or in the mountains, to have time to yourself and absorb the deep wisdom of what you are learning in class is just as important as the material covered. Yoga is a life-long path of practice. PYC students love the chances they have to run down to the beach or hike to a waterfall in the afternoons, or to take a boat out for dolphin and whale-watching on Sunday after morning sadhana. 

3.  I see some teachers listed as RYT and some as E-RYT. What’s the difference?

RYT stands for Registered Yoga Teacher. The ‘E’ stands for “experienced.” It means that this teacher has logged a certain amount of post-graduate teaching hours.

At the 200-hour level E-RYT means two years and at least 1,000 hours of teaching.

At the 500-hour level the E-RYT designation means that the teacher has taught at least 2,000 hours – 500 of these hours must be after completing the 500-hour certification – and has a minimum of four years of teaching experience.

In addition to the various designations (RYT 200, E-RYT 200, RYT 500, and E-RYT 500), there are also RCYTs and RPYTs. These are teachers who specialize in teaching Children’s Yoga and Prenatal Yoga. According to Yoga Alliance guidelines – yoga schools cannot use Children’s Yoga Training or Prenatal Yoga Training hours toward a 200- or 500-hour certification.


Although some yoga schools list 1,000-hour certification, Yoga Alliance spokespeople say they have no plans to create such a track. I deeply honor the freedom that Yoga Alliance allows with their guidelines. I love school and I continue to study – but I also love the fact that, beyond my 500-hour certification, I have been able to travel around the world to study under some of my favorite and most beloved teachers. 

4.  As a yoga teacher, do I have to register with Yoga Alliance?

No, but being registered with Yoga Alliance does have it’s perks. You receive lower insurance rates than non-Yoga Alliance registered teachers. You will also be added to Yoga Alliance’s database of thousands of teachers so that people in your area can find you through the Yoga Alliance search engine.

Plus, Yoga Alliance has teamed up with tons of companies (Hugger Mugger, T-Mobile, Alamo and Hertz among them) and these give discounts and special deals to Yoga Alliance registered teachers. You can find out more about these benefits through the Yoga Alliance website.

Registering with Yoga Alliance is very simple, can be done online, and requires a yearly payment to keep your registration up to date.

5.  How does the Pavones Yoga Center advanced 500-hour certification work?

Yoga Alliance sets certain guidelines within which schools must organize themselves and includes a minimum of contact hours with primary teachers, a distribution of teaching hours across several categories including philosophy and ethics, teaching methodology, practicum, and anatomy and physiology. The Yoga Alliance website clearly lists the criteria that yoga schools, including PYC, must meet. Pavones Yoga Center draws from these Yoga Alliance guidelines when structuring our programs. You can download our PDF below for a description of the Pavones Yoga Center 500-hour certification path. Our website has more information about each of our yoga teacher training programs.

500-hour yoga certification

I hope this was helpful to those of you researching yoga programs around the world. My gratitude to Yoga Alliance for their help in answering some of the questions for this article. If you have any further questions, please feel free to drop us a line ( We love to hear from readers.

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