Updated (Jan 2018): How to prepare for yoga certification (theory) exam?

Prepare for level 2 Yoga Certification Theory Exam:

[This post is follow up post to what you need to know about voluntary yoga certification exam]

The first question after registering yourself for voluntary yoga certification examination is how to prepare for it?

As a Yoga professional, you know theory as well as practical aspects but the doubt is: is it sufficient to clear the certification process?

For this let’s first understand the context of this exam:

Theory exam

In the early phase of yoga certification stage 1 ( theory exam), it was conducted as the subjective exam with Question & Answer format. This format has changed now.

The theory exam now is conducted as Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ). In the overall question paper, different sections of the syllabus are covered at different difficulty levels.

The MCQ structure removes bias with regards to paragraph form of answers. Moreover, many of yoga professionals are not good at writing as they didn’t pursue PG diploma or Master’s in Yoga before appearing for the exam.

What is tested in certification exam (theory)?

The detailed syllabus is available from the link provided. In short following topics are what is tested in the theory exam.

As mentioned previously, from last quarter of 2017, the theory exam of yoga certification is objective type only. Also in coming days, you will be required to clear these levels in sequence, which means clearing level 1 and then level 2. Unless you are coming from a certified school or completed a similar level course.

Though currently, you can appear for Level 2 exam (Yoga Teacher) directly if you are, either qualified for that or have experience and knowledge to clear the exam.

So coming back to the syllabus, you are tested on below-mentioned topics:

  • Familiarity with classical yoga texts: Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Hath Yoga Pradipika, Gheranda Samhita
  • Knowledge of Shad Darshan with special emphasis on Sankhya darshan
  • Knowledge and familiarity with human anatomy & physiology.
  • Complete knowledge and familiarity of Shat Kriya, Asana, Pranayama and teaching skills. You should know benefits, counter indications and counterposes of asanas listed in the syllabus.
  • Knowledge about Eight steps of yoga (Ashtanga).

Though for Level 1, familiarity with above-mentioned concepts is sufficient, for Level 2, in-depth understanding is required.

You can access The Yoga Talk forum to discuss and clear your doubts with regards to any of the topic listed above.

How were these topics decided?

These topics have been decided by technical committee ( which has representation from all major schools) after detailed discussion.

A Yoga professional who is being certified for Level 2(Teacher) is supposed to be able to show proper knowledge about these topics.

On the side note: This process of uniformity is good for overall harmonisation of the level of knowledge that will be expected from a certain level of the teacher. Thus removing confusion about different levels of Yoga professionals calling themselves teachers as per their convenience.

I did a Yoga Teacher Training course (RYT 200), is my course material sufficient for this exam?

The answer is: If you did your teacher’s (or instructor’s training) from a proper school and you have read the recommended texts, then yes, it is sufficient.

The question is how much of these texts which you studied in your course, do you remember now?

That is the real issue that yoga professionals are facing while appearing for Yoga Certification exam.

You see, the knowledge being delivered for any teacher’s training course requires having a basic understanding of classical texts of Yoga.

But, once the course is complete, you get more questions and real-life situations of students interested in practice only.

So, unless you are a regular reader yourself, you tend to have only the understanding level touch with the concepts.

So how to approach this exam?

The syllabus of Level 1 ( instructor) can be downloaded from here.

And Level 2 ( teacher) can be downloaded from here.

As you can see from the syllabus, it is related to classical texts. The prerequisite of any qualified yoga instructor/teacher is knowledge about the definition and concepts in classical texts.

The simple reason being: All the current understanding is derived from an explanation of these texts only.

For example, Any yoga professional, even at the level of yoga instructor should know about yoga’s concept of health, shat karma, asanas ( & their benefits) etc.

As mentioned earlier, if you have completed any teacher’s training course or received training under a senior teacher, then you have been exposed to these concepts. One way or other.

Most of the formal courses in yoga consist of introductory and in some cases detailed explanation of yogic concepts.

You just need to revisit them for this exam. Have a quick look through the training manual you received while pursuing your course.

A good approach

The approach I would recommend would be to go through syllabus and model test paper once and then first arrange your notes section wise. This was after one reading you will know which areas you are strong in and where do you need more preparation.

Most of the times, you will need to read up additional material only in 2-3 topics. Ask around and get in touch with people who know that topic better. This will save you lot of time. Plus you may end up understanding the topic in a much better way as compared to what you would have done if you had read the books yourself.

It is for this the concept of yoga talk forum was designed.

If you have lost touch with your basic texts or reading the classical texts seems daunting to you, then QCI has launched an official handbook for yoga professionals.

They have also released a separate book for Level 1 professionals too. It is available for time being at a reduced price. Do check that out before making the purchase.


This book is based on standards of knowledge set by technical committee on yoga regarding minimum acceptable standards of knowledge for Yoga Professionals.

Though this book is specific from QCI certification exam syllabus, it is a good read as the single point, concise collection of important concepts.

A word of advice: This book has very concise and to the point material. Don’t read this guidebook as a reference text to deepen your understanding of yoga, yogic concepts etc.

You can take it as a good introduction to yoga as professional or as a concise guidebook to brush up your knowledge before the certification exam.

The forum:

We have recently started a forum for yoga professionals who either want to know more about certification scheme or have appeared & wants to clear doubts from fellow yoga professionals. Please visit it at https://theyogatalk.com

What to focus on?

When you are reading for the exam, you can skip reading about asana part. As a practising yoga professional (teacher or instructor) you already know about this part and thus read about them in the end.

For now, you should focus on yoga texts, philosophy and different school of thoughts. 

Most of the yoga teacher training courses cover these topics. The issue is, once the course is done, these theoretical aspects are not discussed in regular practice. They fade out. A quick read of your training manual will refresh these topics.

Moreover if you teacher training manual or course manual doesn’t have in-depth material on the certain topic of the syllabus, then you know what you need to prepare first.

Also, focus on human anatomy and its relation to different practices of asana and pranayama. You don’t need to know the complete biological makeup of human body, but knowledge of important systems of human is necessary.

As a Yoga professional for Level 2, you need to know main organs of human body, how asanas effect each of these and what are the related contra-indications.

Yoga also effects the mind. Hence, you should read about the psychological makeup of human personality.This is for broader understanding. Be careful, not to read too deeply into it. You are not preparing for being a psychologist. I would suggest that for this topic, the official guidebook is sufficient.

From numerous talks, a general understanding has developed that:

With around 2 hours of study a day, give yourself at least 3 weeks before appearing for the exam. And you should succeed easily 🙂

Recommended readings:

It is always a good idea to read books authored by teachers, practitioners from different schools.

In this way, you will get to know to the alternate understanding of the same concept. A very important step to be holistic about knowledge part.

Plus, it also keeps you humble!

Below mentioned is the list of highly recommended and rated books on the topic. These you can add to your library, today.

This list is not exhaustive. Please feel free to add your recommendation in the comment section and I will add them to the list.

  1. Light on Yoga by B K S Iyengar
Light on Yoga

This book serves as an introduction for beginners who are looking to learn the unique practice of Yoga. It has been authored by the famous B.K.S. Iyengar, who is known for his mastery over the topic of Yoga.

2. Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, and Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati

This book combines a comprehensive overview of asana; while at the same time giving clear explanations of the deeper aspects of yoga, including breathing (pranayama), body attitudes (mudra), energy locks (bandha), energy centres (chakras), and yogic cleansing (hatha yoga) — Amazon

3. Hath Yoga Pradipika, Gheranda Samhita, and Viveka Chudamani

Original texts are in Sanskrit language, so what you will see in search results is commentaries or explanations by learned gurus or long-term practitioners. I will suggest that you read at least two different versions of each for better perspective and understanding.

A more detailed list of recommended readings is:

  • Must have yoga books in your library
2018-02-12T08:17:36+00:00 Certification|8 Comments


  1. HS CHAWLA February 4, 2018 at 4:36 pm - Reply

    yoga is good for health

  2. Jatin February 12, 2018 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    Nice information,kept sharing. Can you also tell about part 2 practical of yoga certification exam?

  3. Ashok Kumar February 14, 2018 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this guide. Really helpful. How many marks are required to clear theory exam?

  4. Rakhi Pansal February 14, 2018 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    Thank you sir for the guide. I have some queries for this yoga certification exam, can I ask you here?

  5. Hari February 15, 2018 at 11:11 pm - Reply

    Nice guide. Understood the yoga certification scheme in better way. Can you also share the other books that one should read for better understanding as yoga teacher?

  6. Jiten February 16, 2018 at 6:51 pm - Reply

    Thanks a lot, where can i find details of next exam date?

  7. Anil Rawat February 19, 2018 at 12:20 am - Reply

    Useful information, can you please share some sample questions too?

Leave A Comment