Thursday, 4 August 2011

How much does it cost to become an Ashtanga Teacher?

(The figures in the discussion below are really just guess work taken from a bit of googling and some conversations here and there. I'm hoping somebody might come up with more up to date figures, see this as the beginning of a dialogue....we should know right). 

So things have been a little quiet at work, we're not worried exactly but you know how people talk.

A conversation went something like this.

T. "You could always teach yoga though couldn't you"?

ME "I don't know about that".

T. "But didn't you go to LA and do that teaching course"? 

ME "Well yes, but that was mainly because I wanted to study yoga with Ramaswami, rather than to teach".

T. "Wouldn't you like to teach though, your always going on about yoga".

ME "If somebody actually came up and asked me to teach them Vinyasa Krama, the style of yoga I learned from Ramaswami in LA, I guess I'd feel obliged to, I'd probably enjoy it....I've thought about it".

T. "So that's a yes then, if things go down the toilet here you could teach yoga".

ME "Not sure I could make a living out of the odd Vinyasa Krama student".

T. "But people do make a living out of it, they have studios, make DVD's etc...."

ME "Yeah but I'd be awful at promoting myself, hate all that and it's a different kind of yoga, too much talking" .

T. "But I thought you said the teacher never says anything in a yoga class".

ME "Oh you mean Ashtanga. your right the teacher doesn't tend to say a lot".

T. "So why don't you teach Ashtanga, you don't have to say a word and it's already popular, you wont have to do any promotion".

ME "Ahhh, but I'm not authorised to teach Ashtanga, my 'teacher training' was in a different style".

T. "Couldn't you do a teaching course in Ashtanga, how much would it cost"?

How much WOULD it cost........?

Thing is I don't really know, it's all very hush hush, you hear things, didn't Alex say in that recent article, that Jois gave him authorization at a discount price of $900 and that was quite a few years ago.

Looking around and talking with people this is my best understanding,  and this is vague, really vague but perhaps there's somebody out there who has better figures, an appendix to Mysorpedia perhaps.

So you need to go to Mysore at least 3-4 times for at least a month at around $1500

so that's $6000

You might get lucky enough to be invited to be invited to teach, I heard you have to pay $1000 for the privilege......

but supposedly you have to go back every year and pay another $1000 to Sharath if you want to stay authorized plus the usual cost of going to India for a month, say another $1000 for flights and you have to pay the usual shala fees as well? Don't know.

BUT, after five to ten years supposedly you might get invited to become a Certified teacher, in which case you wouldn't have to update your teaching authorization every year.

you would have to pay something like $5000 for that though

So to become an Certified Ashtanga teacher we're talking

4x trips to Mysore                $6000
authorization                        $1000
Total                                    $7000

to become Certified

the above                              $7000
plus 5 more trips to Mysore  $5000
5x authorisation fees             $5000
Certification fee                    $5000
Total                                    $22000
( that's if your certified after five years if it's ten then you'll have to add another $10,000 )

Does that sound right $22,000-$32,000 to become a certified Ashtanga teacher?


T. "You'd have to pay $32,000 to teach Ashtanga! You could become a Doctor for that".

ME "There's more...

Most teachers would have practiced at a shala all that time, £150.00 per month in London which is what £1,800 a year. Supposedly you should be practicing ten years before you teach, that works out at £18,000 about $30,000

That would make it $37,000 to become an Authorised Ashtanga teacher

$60,000 to become a certified Ashtanga teacher".

T. "I can't believe you would have to pay $60,000 just to be a yoga teacher".

ME "I'm a little offended by the 'just' : ). You don't actually have to be authorised or certified, you could just go ahead and teach it, there's no regulation and lets face it, if we're honest it's just another asana sequence. That way of course you can teach it how you want without the threat of your Authorisation being taken away. I learned it at home, cost me a couple of mats, DVDs, few books, couple of hundred quid tops".

T. " So hang on, if we go bust then I could teach Ashtanga too, read a book, practice for a couple of months at home, set myself up as a teacher, we could do it together, open our own place, we could be yoga teachers, cool.

Me " Is that the time? I've gotta go to to lunch..."


  1. hope that the work thing doesn't go down the toilet, but you could teach, sure, without spending all these tens of thousands
    and your blog would be enough of a promotion
    hope all's well

  2. I think you'd be a great teacher - I've been follwing your blog and video updates for some time . Always insightful, well explored, and experience based, without judgement. Isn't that what we want from a teacher?
    Happy yoga to you!

  3. Hi Grim, I read your blog, don't usually comment, but... this post resonated with me so I thought I would share my opinion. Being a professional yoga teacher in today's world drives focus too much outwards. (The conversation really caught that perfectly when it naturally directed itself towards authorisations, costs etc.) Even more so if you are "successful", because you might discover different, external motivators. There are studies which show internal motivation is damaged by external (eg. when kids are given reward for drawing, they draw less). So you are right when you resist, you actually risk a lot. My 2 pennies: don't teach publicly if you are not forced to, or you don't find a legitimate reason coming from deep inside.

  4. " I'd be awful at promoting myself, hate all that "

    Thanks for the morning laugh! :-D

  5. Some of the best teachers I have come across have never stepped foot in India.. but then again, some have. If getting certified is for you then get certified. I personally think that there is no need. "Be your own teacher and your own disciple" (Krishnamurti)If you are your own teacher, and you continue to learn new things every day, then I believe that's enough. If you can convey those lessons to others safely then teach.. I'd come to your vinyasa krama classes like a shot Grim!!

    PS - stay away from that guy at work!

  6. Hi fatou, think we'll be OK, sure I could repair privately. A little yoga teaching might be nice, been thinking about it more and more recently, but wouldn't want to depend on it as a livelihood.

    I agree with Kecskemeti too ( thanks for commenting) many other pressures when it becomes a business would be afraid of it affecting my own practice. That said Ashtanga teachers seem good at keeping their practice up while teaching.

    Thank you Maria, I enjoy teaching M. Vinyasa Krama on Sundays. Be interesting to explore VK more from the perspective of a teacher, perhaps a couple of individual students, a little class in a church hall or something to see how it works as a class.

    Thanks Micqui, don't worry, no desire to go down the authorised ashtanga teacher route, can you imagine me staying on program for a whole year. Curious about the in's and out's of it though, I mean we know how much it costs to become a Bikram teacher.

    Let you know when my two week Vinyasa Krama retreat in Bali or Tahiti comes up : )

    Thanks for the encouragement.

  7. Well, it's a bargain compared to an MBA!

  8. Hello Grimmly, I understand that you have no desire to go down the authorized ashtanga teacher route; in any case, I personally don't see any problem with teaching whatever you practise, and sharing it with others this way (many people already do this anyway).

    But here's something to put things in perspective: $60,000 over ten years is still less than the total amount of money I spent on grad school (8 years (3 years M.A., 5 years PhD); about $20,000 per year (and that's with a tuition waiver); you do the math...).

    I don't mean to bore you with the details that you probably don't care much about here, but I guess one can think of getting authorized or certified as getting an advanced degree of some sort; this won't make things any less expensive, but it make help to put things in perspective.

    Besides, even if one decides to do absolutely nothing with one's life, one still has to spend money keeping oneself alive; so just staying alive costs money too! So absolutely nothing is free...

  9. I believe it costs about 10,000 dollars to do a Bikram teacher training including your hotel bill. at least that's what it cost when he did the training in Las Vegas a year or so ago. I believe the breakdown was about 2/3 when to Bikram and 1/3 went to hotel bill.

  10. Honestly, I think the depth of your personal practice is the bigger determinant of your quality as a teacher than whether you have 'Authorized/Certified' to your name, as an Ashtanga teacher. It's good to have those labels, yes, and having studied with a variety of teachers, some Authorized, some not, I can detect a qualitative difference in those who've invested the time and money to get Authorized and those who haven't. But that isn't to say that the non-Authorized teachers aren't good. It boils down to experience and dedication to the practice. You can be Authorized and Certified all you want, but if you don't have a personal yoga practice, it's all form and no substance.

    Just my two cents anyway, not trying to downplay the value of getting Authorized here. And for what it's worth, I'd love to take a VK class with you if I ever get the opportunity!

  11. And a hell of a lot more fun than an MBA it might be argued.

    '... but I guess one can think of getting authorized or certified as getting an advanced degree of some sort'.
    Too bemused by that to respond Nobel, you really think that?

    Thanks for the Bikram breakdown Laura. I remember following a blog where the writer was going through Bikram training, it sounded quite full on actually, something like two or three moths in Vegas.

    I'd be interested to know if the Iyengar process is a closer comparison to Ashtanga

  12. Hi S. At least with Ashtanga it seems you can be pretty sure your teacher does have a committed practice.

    And, of course, if your into shala practice your going to be happily paying those shala fees anyway as well as making the trips to Mysore where possible. I always thought it was a shame for those long term students who just don't have the opportunity to pick up and go to Mysore every year. becoming an unauthorised Ashtanga teacher is perhaps the only option. I've heard tell of excellent teachers who are unauthorised

    The actual authorisation fees are a surprise though.

  13. Oh and thanks re VK class : )

  14. Interesting post.

    I guess for some people, getting the authorisation/certification is worth it - and I think this is especially the case if you're the first one in your area with it. However, for anyone coming along afterwards, it's an uphill struggle - number one has hoovered up all the serious ashtangis (the people who will care that the teacher has been to Mysore, etc), and even in a big city the number of those is pretty small. Most people who do yoga don't care much about style, Indian gurus, lineage, or any of that stuff (and there are plenty of great teachers out there who've never been to India). In other words, you're paying to join an elite that is recognised as such by a fairly limited pool of students, and the return on your investment is pretty uncertain to say the least.

    That's if you even get there - you could show up in Mysore every year for ten years and still not get the nod. Added to that, as far as I know you have no certainty of contract with the Mysore people (even if there is anything on paper, then good luck in the Indian legal system) - you could pay them a load of dough, and then they decide you've annoyed them and take you off the list. That's happened to some people, right?

    It also amuses me that some of the biggest names aren't on the list - that early generation in particular presumably thought they'd done enough to earn their stripes and weren't about to pay Mysore given that it was their efforts that made PJ a worldwide phenomenon. Not a dig at him by the way, since he didn't seem all that interested in self promotion - but they brought him to the States, so the idea of paying him for authorisation probably wasn't on their agenda.

  15. I'm surprised at the fees too!

    Missing from this discussion is talk of those practitioners who go to Mysore every year, without fail, because they want to study with their teacher, not necessarily with the intention of getting authorized/certified. Or is that just an idealistic assumption on my part?

  16. Listen,(That's how we boss around people we don't know in the NYC metro area)You have already written a manual through these blogs. I have used many of your posts/videos as instruction, so in some ways sir, you are already teaching. You could polish/publish this manual. I'd pay to own a copy. I'm just sayin'

  17. Yes S. alluded to that in my previous comment, most of that cost everyone is happily paying anyway just going about their shala practice and visiting Mysore, to be in Mysore. I hope it's not an idealized assumption, I have it too though perhaps it starts popping up into the back of peoples minds after the third or fourth trip, which seems fair enough.

  18. Thanks for that Annon, interesting point about how many people actually care about authorisation, perhpas we make too much of it. Wonder if some spin off association will come about excluding mysore altogether, out of that 'confluence' coming up for example or something like it. A lot of the early teachers seem to be offering some kind of teacher training.

  19. Thanks for the bossing Serene. I suppose I feel I've done my bit via the blogs to pass on some of what I've been taught. Don't feel so guilty about not teaching face to face so much.

  20. Good one G. I have to say I agree with many of the comments here. People dedicated to all limbs of yoga and to finding instruction wherever it might be, researching, studying the books of Krishnamacharya and all of his students, practicing, teaching through a blog...

    That is enough credentials to me.

    You have a lot to offer... I would take your class!

    As per the business of teaching, I sympathize with what the actual teacher who commented said. After taking a look at my local community classes it does seem like a lot of talking, a lot of energy!!!

    I suppose the desire to teach just sparks at some point, because there is so much to share, and because we love this, and as your co-worker said: you talk all yoga... or something like that, which is true, I can picture you talking and going on and on and on about it...

    We love the stuff...

    What can we do?

    Why not teach it then! if the situation arises

  21. Hello. May I ask how much does it cost to become a Vinyasa Krama teacher?

  22. Thank you Claudia.

    Hi Anon. Fair question. Just checked and the fees for LMU next year are $3,300 here's the link
    Housing was at the University $1500 plus I had to fly from the UK $200
    So I guess all together $5000

    Personally I considered it a bargain, Five weeks with three hours on asana every morning, two hours on the yoga sutras or Krishnamacharya's writings, then two hours on pranayama or mantra and meditation. All with a man who has taught yoga for forty years and studied with Krishnamacharya himself for thirty.

  23. i'm with SF; i've learned a lot already from you and i am adapting the vinyasa krama sequences to my daily practice. it serves the needs of my body and schedule at the present time. at another time in the future i might go to mysore and study with the family.

    as for the certified level, maybe you could aspire to it, with the strength of your body and your flexibility. but most people could not aspire to it, as you would have to have completed 3rd series - quite a challenge given few are allowed to get there and it is not taught publicly formally, except, well by certified teachers or someone not certified who practices it and can pass the knowledge on.


  24. Just got sent the details of the Iyengar teacher training, many thanks for that. Here's the link.

    'To be accepted for teacher training, you need to have established a regular practice at home and achieved a high standard in the Introductory asanas. You also need a preliminary understanding of the subtler aspects of Iyengar yoga and its philosophy. Your general health should be good and teachers will have to assess whether your attitude is balanced, patient and mature.
    Your teacher will also have to certify that you’ve been attending classes regularly, and without a break, for a minimum of three years. However, as the Iyengars stress, “It is not just the ‘time’ or ‘years’ of practice that makes one eligible for a particular level of certification but the ‘quality’ of practice.”

    The purpose of the course is to build a firm foundation in the teaching of B.K.S. Iyengar’s work. It lasts two years, and there are 14 training days each year
    The cost of the current course is £630 per year or £225 per term.
    The cost of the 2011/2012 course is £830 per year or £290 payable in advance of each term.

    here's a link to the page on further training

  25. But, *sputter, sputter*, i've learnt so much from you already!!

    wow. this boggles the mind/

  26. My yoga friend you are already teaching on the web and have more students than most yoga studio teachers. Keep up your Karma Yoga practice for I love reading and practicing what you present.

  27. Thank you Quentin, your very kind.



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from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included. "So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta Referral Teacher Listing


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