Yoga Alliance

Spirit of the Standards - RYS 500

July 2016

Standards Guidelines (all RYS)

  1. Spirit of the Standards

The spirit of the Yoga Alliance Standards is to include a school in the RYS® (Registered Yoga School) Directory only when its YTT (Yoga Teacher Training):

  • Has a definite, pre-defined curriculum that meets the Yoga Alliance Standards.
  • Is taught by yoga teacher trainers who are qualified to train teachers.
  • Offers a consistent approach that is conducive to depth, rather than a survey of different approaches.

All standards for a RYS are intended to be clear, implementable reflections of the above criteria.


  1. Educational Categories of Study & Practice

The RYS Educational Categories are:

  • Techniques, Training and Practice
  • Teaching Methodology
  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Yoga Philosophy/Ethics/Lifestyle
  • Practicum

Please see each standard’s detailed description for the definition of each educational category as it relates to that specific designation.

Training hours may go into ‘N/A - Supplemental Training’ when they include content that does not fit in the Educational Categories. Examples of such content include instruction in Reiki, Thai yoga massage, CPR, Doula training, “Yoga Therapy”, etc. These hours are not counted in determining whether or not the syllabus meets Yoga Alliance Standards.


  1. Faculty Qualifications – E-RYT®

Definition of an E-RYT® (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher)

  • E-RYT 200 - This is a RYT 200 who has been teaching yoga for at least two years since completion of training with a RYS 200, and has taught at least 1000 hours of yoga classes since that time. This person must have accumulated the 1,000 hours of yoga teaching experience after having met the RYT 200 Requirements (whether registered as an RYT 200 or not).
  • E-RYT 500 - This is a RYT 500 who has been teaching yoga for at least four years, and has taught at least 2000 hours of yoga classes. This person must have accumulated this much yoga teaching experience after having met the RYT 200 Requirements (whether registered as an RYT 200 or not), with at least 500 of those hours having been accumulated after having completed the advanced training.


  1. Trainer Requirements

Trainers are those who teach trainees in a teacher training for a RYS. Trainers may be E-RYTs as per the Faculty Qualifications (section I.3 above) or must be documented as having either.

  • RYT® registration, or
  • Satisfy the following : have a relevant degree, certification or substantial education in the subject that he or she will teach, which must be related to a Yoga Alliance® Educational Category, plus a minimum of 500 hours of teaching experience in that subject and/or the equivalent of two years of relevant experience in that subject area, as demonstrated by either documentation or an attestation by a RYS Owner or Syllabus Manager.


  1. Lead Trainers and Contact Hours with Lead Trainers

Lead Trainer(s) are E-RYT’s at the appropriate level for the relevant RYS designation (see table below) who teach Contact Hours in a RYS training. Lead Trainers must be actively registered with Yoga Alliance.

 In order to meet the general principle “Offers a consistent approach that is conducive to depth, rather than a survey of different approaches” (see Spirit of the Standards section I.1), there must be minimum numbers of Contact Hours in three of the five Educational Categories with a maximum number of pre-designated E-RYTs for each training offered. The minimum number of Contact Hours by subject category are defined in the individual Standards for each RYS designation. The maximum number of E-RYTs allowed for a training within each RYS designation is shown in the following table:

RYS Designation Lead Trainer Eligibility by Designation Maximum Number of Lead Trainers per Training Lead Trainer Contact Hours Requirements by Designation
RYS 200 E-RYT 200 or E-RYT 500 2 65
RYS 300 E-RYT 500 5 135
RYS 500 E-RYT 500 5 200



  1. Standards Definitions

  • Hours - One hour equals 60 minutes. Time allocated for meals, or for breaks longer than 10 minutes, does not count as training hours. No Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga School training hour may be credited to more than one RYS training or designation.
  • Contact Hour - A Contact Hour must take place in the physical presence of a faculty member. Contact Hours’ instructional content must be intended for teacher trainees rather than the general public, specifically:
    • The content of these hours advances the education of trainees as demonstrated explicitly through the course syllabus and its learning objectives.
    • These hours fall into the normal content flow of the overall training entailing discussion, reports submitted by trainees on their experiences, related homework, projects, or the like.
    • Faculty for these hours meet Yoga Alliance's faculty qualifications and are formally designated as training faculty.
  • E-RYT 500 - See section I.3 (Faculty Requirements)
  • E-RYT 200 - See section I.3 (Faculty Requirements)
  • E-RYT 200, RYT 500 - See section I.3 (Faculty Requirements re. E-RYT 200s)
  • Lead Trainer < – See Section I.5 (Lead Trainers and Contact Hours With Lead Trainers)
  • Non-Contact Hours - Non-Contact Hours are the number of hours of learning that occur without a faculty member present. All Non-Contact Hours should be relevant to one of the five Educational Categories. Outside resources should be thoughtfully chosen to support the training. Non-Contact Hours must be an assigned part of the curriculum and examples of allowable Non-Contact Hours may include:
    • Reading, audio/video or internet resources that are integrated into the curriculum via reports, class discussions, presentations or tests, or the like;
    • Webinars on yoga-related topics.
    • Written assignments on yoga-related topics that may be counted for all categories except Practicum.
    • Group activities including directed discussion, technique practice or teaching practice.
    • Attending yoga classes outside of the training, with the following stipulations:
      • Each class must be evaluated via a written or oral exercise.
      • These hours may count toward the Techniques, Training and Practice, Teaching Methodology or Practicum categories.
  • Examples of Unallowable Non-Contact Hours include:
    • Personal private practice.
    • Attending classes intended for the general public without entailing discussion, reports submitted by trainees on their experiences, related homework, and the like.


  1. Subjects of Study

Although Yoga Alliance honors and respects related disciplines and traditions, both Contact and Non-Contact Hours are limited to areas that fall within the scope of traditional yoga studies.


  1. CPR and First Aid Training

CPR and first aid training hours cannot be counted toward satisfying the minimum YTT curriculum hours or Continuing Education Contact Hours. Yoga Alliance suggests CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and first aid training for all RYT’s


500-Hour Standards

RYS 500 logoFollowing are Yoga Alliance’s Standards for a Registered Yoga School 500-hour training. Topics for a RYS teacher training training must be relevant to Yoga Alliance’s five Educational Categories as defined below. A RYS 500 must provide a minimum number of hours of study in each educational category, and to make up the required 500 hours, must also provide additional hours of study relevant to these Educational Categories, which may be distributed according to the school’s chosen emphasis.


A RYS 500 training (RYS 500) must incorporate training hours in the following Educational Categories:


  1. Techniques, Training and Practice: 150 Hours

Minimum Contact Hours: 100 hours
Minimum Contact Hours w/ Lead Trainer(s): 100 hours


Topics in this category could include, but are not limited to: asanas, pranayamas, kriyas, chanting, mantra, meditation and other traditional yoga techniques. These hours must be a mix between: 1) analytical training in how to teach and practice the techniques, and 2) guided practice of the techniques themselves. Both areas must receive substantial emphasis.


  1. Teaching Methodology: 30 Hours

Minimum Contact Hours: 20 hours*
Minimum Contact Hours w/ Lead Trainer(s): 20 hours


Topics in this category could include, but are not limited to:

  • Communication skills such as group dynamics, time management, and the establishment of priorities and boundaries.
  • How to address the specific needs of individuals and special populations, to the degree possible in a group setting.
  • Principles of demonstration, observation, assisting and correcting.
  • Teaching styles.
  • Qualities of a teacher.
  • The student learning process.
  • Business aspects of teaching yoga (including marketing and legal).

*Special Requirement: A maximum of five hours related to the business aspects of teaching yoga may be counted towards the Yoga Alliance Contact Hours requirements for this category.


The Teaching Methodology category covers a broad overview and analysis of teaching methods, rather than how to practice or teach specific techniques. See the example topics below to help clarify the differences between the Techniques, Training and Practice category and the Teaching Methodology category:


Example Techniques, Training and Practice Topics

Example Teaching Methodology Topics

The Five Categories of Asana: The trainee will practice and learn the key poses in each category of asana (standing poses, forward bends, backbends, twists, and inversions) and will begin to develop a relationship to both the form and the function of these different categories.


Maps of Alignment: Trainees will achieve comprehension of the alignment maps for each of the five categories of asanas through observation and experience of how the poses in each category share a common foundation, and how to build upon this foundation.

Principles of Demonstrating Asanas: Discuss how effective demonstrations in class can help emphasize an alignment or other focus for the specific pose or sequence of poses.


Learning Modalities: identifying your dominant style, and learning how to teach based on others’ learning styles.


Use of Language and Voice: Lecture and discussion on active vs. passive language and the effective use of each; positive and conscious communication, and habitual speech and communication patterns.


  1. Anatomy and Physiology: 35 Hours*

Minimum Contact Hours: 20 hours
Minimum Contact Hours w/ Lead Trainer(s): 0 hours


Topics in this category could include, but are not limited to: human physical anatomy and physiology (bodily systems, organs, etc.) and may also include energy anatomy and physiology (chakras, nadis, etc.). Includes both the study of anatomy and physiology along with its application to yoga practice (benefits, contraindications, healthy movement patterns, etc.).

*Special Requirement: A minimum of fifteen of the above hours must be spent applying anatomy and physiology principles to yoga.


  1. Yoga Philosophy, Lifestyle and Ethics for Yoga Teachers: 60 Hours

Minimum Contact Hours: 45 hours*
Minimum Contact Hours w/ Lead Trainer(s): 0 hours


Topics in this category could include, but are not limited to:

  • The study of yoga philosophies and traditional texts (such as the Yoga Sutras, Hatha Yoga Pradipika or Bhagavad Gita).
  • Yoga lifestyle, such as the precept of non-violence (ahimsa), and the concepts of dharma and karma.
  • Ethics for yoga teachers, such as those involving teacher – student relationships and community.
  • Understanding the value of teaching yoga as a service and being of service to others through yoga (seva).

*Special Requirement: A minimum of 4 of the above Contact Hours must be spent on ethics for yoga teachers.


  1. Practicum: 40 Hours

Minimum Contact Hours: 20 hours*
Minimum Contact Hours w/ Lead Trainer(s): 10 hours


Topics in this category include:

  • Practice teaching as the lead instructor (does not include assisting, observing or giving feedback).
  • Receiving and giving feedback.
  • Observing others teaching.**
  • Assisting students while someone else is teaching.

*Special Requirement: Each trainee must spend a minimum of 10 Contact Hours actively practice teaching as the lead instructor. Time spent assisting, observing others teaching, or giving feedback to others is excluded from these hours.


**Evaluation or observation of yoga classes outside of the RYS Teacher Training constitutes Non-Contact Hours.


  1. Remaining Contact Hours and Elective Hours

The Standards detailed above ensure that all trainees of a RYS 500 receive training and instruction in five Educational Categories for a minimum of 205 Contact Hours. The remaining curriculum Contact Hours (245 hours) and any remaining Non-Contact Hours are to be distributed among the five Educational Categories, but the hours may be allocated at the discretion of each RYS based on their training’s focus.


  1. Total Hours: 500 Hours

Total minimum Contact Hours: 450 hours
Total minimum Contact Hours with Lead Trainer(s): 200 hours

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