Yoga and Pilates Instructors


Education and Training Requirements

High School

A high school diploma is the minimum requirement to work as a yoga or Pilates instructor. Take anatomy, biology, psychology, and physical education. In addition, get involved in weight lifting, dance, sports, and other activities that will help you to stay fit and learn more about exercise.

Postsecondary Training

The demand for yoga and Pilates instructors has grown faster than the number of available experienced teachers, leading to unskilled, untrained teachers causing an increase in injuries among students. Consequently, yoga and Pilates instructors must now receive specialized training in their field before they can teach. Standards that include 200 hours of training have been established by the Pilates Method Alliance and the Yoga Alliance. Both organizations also maintain a list of approved training schools that are registered and meet specified requirements. Additional useful college courses include anatomy, physiology, psychology, kinesiology, biomechanics, chemistry, physics, first aid and safety, health, and nutrition. The Pilates Center also provides teacher training programs. 

Other Education or Training

Yoga and Pilates instructors must take continuing education workshops and seminars to keep their certification current. These opportunities are offered by American Fitness Professionals and Associates, IDEA Health & Fitness Association, Integral Yoga Teachers Association, The Pilates Center, Pilates Method Alliance, and the Yoga Alliance.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Most qualified yoga and Pilates instructors become certified through a professional association, such as the Yoga Alliance or the Pilates Method Alliance (PMA). For example, the PMA offers a comprehensive program consisting of training on proper form, the purpose of each exercise, how to assess and adjust class members' posture and form, and how to properly pace the class to create an effective and comprehensive class. Those who complete a minimum of 450 hours of documented training and and pass a multiple-choice examination receive the certified Pilates teacher designation. The American Fitness Professionals and Associates also provides certification. 

It is important to note that there are no nationally recognized standards for either yoga or Pilates instruction. "Certified" training can be as short as a weekend course or as long as a multi-year program that is the equivalent of a college degree. According to the American Yoga Association, because yoga was historically passed down from teacher to student on an individual basis (creating many varieties and methods), it is unlikely that a standard training program for instruction will be created. Be sure to investigate your yoga or Pilates training program to ensure that it is a quality program, and one suited to your own approach. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies accredits certification programs, including the one established by the Pilates Method Alliance.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Any volunteer or paid experience you can obtain teaching yoga or Pilates classes will be useful. 

Yoga and Pilates instructors are expected to be flexible and physically fit, but they do not have to be in superhuman shape. The American Yoga Association has established a list of strict qualities that instructors should adhere to (maintain a vegetarian diet, act ethically), but the basic qualities of every good instructor are the same: to be knowledgeable and passionate about your craft and be a patient and thorough instructor.