500-Hour Standards

These standards describe Yoga Alliance’s requirements for a Registered Yoga School that offers a 500-hour program. Topics for registered teacher trainings must be relevant to the five educational categories below. Registered schools must provide a minimum number of hours of study for each category, and must also provide additional hours of study relevant to these categories, which may be distributed according to the school’s chosen emphasis.


Before applying to register your school as a RYS 500, it is helpful to carefully consider what a successful student in your course should know and be able to do (learning objectives), and then to develop your topics and description of topics based on the learning objectives of your program. 


A Registered Yoga School with a 500-hour program (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 would not be 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. 

2. Teaching Methodology: 30 hours

Minimum contact hours: 20 hours

Minimum contact hours w/ Lead Trainer(s): 20 hours


Special Requirements: A maximum of five of the above hours can be counted on the subject of  business aspects of teaching yoga


Topics in this category could include, but may not be 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

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 communications and habitual speech and communication patterns

3. Anatomy and Physiology: 35 hours

Minimum contact hours: 20 hours

Minimum contact hours w/ Lead Trainer(s): 0 hours


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

Topics in this category could include, but would not be 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.). 

4. Yoga Philosophy, Lifestyle and Ethics for Yoga Teachers: 60 hours

Minimum contact hours: 45 hours

Minimum contact hours w/ Lead Trainer(s): 0 hours


Special Requirements: A minimum of 2 of the above contact hours must be spent on ethics for yoga teachers


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


  • The study of yoga philosophies and traditional texts, such as the Yoga Sutras and Hatha Yoga Pradipika
  • 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 other through yoga (seva)

5. Practicum: 40 hours


Minimum  contact hours: 20 hours

Minimum contact hours w/ Lead Trainers: 10 hours


Special Requirements: Each trainee must spend a minimum of 10 contact hours of practice teaching as the lead instructor. Practice teaching practice does not include assisting, observing or giving feedback.


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


  • Practice teaching
  • Receiving and giving feedback
  • Observing others teaching
  • Assisting students while someone else is teaching

Remaining Contact Hours and Elective Hours 

The requirements detailed above ensure that all trainees of a RYS receive training and instruction in five educational categories for a minimum number of designated hours. The remaining contact hours (245 hours) and elective hours (185 hours, either contact or non-contact) are to be distributed among the five educational categories, but the hours may be allocated at the discretion of each RYS based on their program’s focus.

TOTAL HOURS: 500 hours

Total minimum contact hours: 450 hours
Total minimum contact hours with Lead Trainer(s): 200 hours
*Note: Along with the specified contact hours in each category above, you must provide an additional 245 contact hours to meet the total contact hours required, 450 hours.  

Copyright 2014 by Yoga Alliance