Under the updated syllabus and scheme details, this guide is no longer valid. Please refer to updated guide.
Last Updated: January 2019.
Yoga Certification :
[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?
To have clarity on that aspect you will need to know the current structure of this certification exam.
Contents in this guide:
- How to prepare for practical 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 expressing their answer in writing format, as they didn’t pursue PG diploma or Master’s in Yoga. Thus, it has been a while since they last wrote something good for length.
You are required to clear your this theory exam separately from your practical exam for clearing the level 2 certification.
What is tested in certification exam (theory)?
The detailed syllabus is available from the link provided. Topics mentioned in syllabus are quite clear & this only is tested in the theory exam.
As mentioned previously, from last quarter of 2017, the theory exam of yoga certification is objective type only. There is a slight chance that in future, you will be required to clear these levels in sequence. This will not be applicable in case of appearing for certificate after completing a certified teacher training course.
Read: What is a certified teacher training course?
Currently, if you think you know the syllabus and have sufficient teaching experience, you can appear for Level 2 exam (Yoga Teacher) directly. The deciding factor that needs to be considered is, either you are qualified for that or have experience and knowledge to clear the exam.
So coming back to the syllabus, it covers below-mentioned topics:
- Familiarity with classical yoga texts: Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Hath Yoga Pradipika, Gheranda Samhita
- Familiarity with other yogic texts, authors & their main concepts.
- Knowledge of Shad Darshan with special emphasis on Sankhya darshan
- Knowledge and familiarity with human anatomy & physiology.
- Complete knowledge and familiarity of Shatkarma, Asana, Pranayama and teaching skills. You should know benefits, counter indications and counterposes of asanas & pranayamas listed in the syllabus.
- Knowledge about Eight Limbs of yoga (Ashtanga).
Though for Level 1, familiarity with above-mentioned concepts is sufficient, for Level 2, in-depth understanding is required.
How the topics of yoga certification exam were decided
These topics have been decided by technical committee (which had representation from all major yoga teaching schools) after detailed discussion.
It was observed that different courses and schools were emphasising certain aspect of Yoga at cost of even basic introduction to other aspect. Eventually, it creates confusion in mind of their students & practitioners. They are not able to properly value, the knowledge imparted in other schools.
Hence it was deliberated and then decided to have a standard, well accepted syllabus as basic requirement for a certified teacher of Yoga.
What is expected knowledge from a Level 2 (Yoga Teacher)
A Yoga professional who is being certified for Level 2 (Teacher) is supposed to be able to show proper knowledge about these topics:
- Proper definitions given as per classical texts without any bias.
- Complete knowledge of widely accepted limbs and paths of yoga.
- Knowledge of important and influential philosophies of yoga.
- Working knowledge of human anatomy from the perspective of effects of asana and pranayama practice on physiology of human body.
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.
Do you need any specific course to be done to be able to clear this exam?
As qualification to appear for this exam, you don’t need to do any specific course. You don’t need to have completed any specific course or degree to appear for this exam. What you need is knowledge and sufficient experience.
Which means you can either, be a candidate who has done MA ( Yoga) or had stayed at an ashram for last few years. You can both appear for this exam. Even someone who has done as basic course and then teaching for quite sometime can appear for this exam.
The specific reason put forward by the eminent panel was that, Yoga has been taught in ‘Gurukul’ methodology since ages, and there many current schools who follow this pattern. Where as degree courses in Yoga are relatively new. Thus one can not be denied as preference for other.
I would also like to add that Yoga Certification scheme also includes the concept of Certified Yoga schools. These school have designed their courses as per the requirements of Yoga Certification scheme. You can find the list of such schools at Ministry of AYUSH website.
One additional point: Masters courses in Yoga are quite comprehensive in their syllabus coverage, but there is also other spectrum of teachers who have done smaller duration courses, like Yoga Alliance based RYT 200 courses. They are good courses, but most of them now require to add couple of missing component to their curriculum to make it comprehensive for this exam.
It is also explained in next point.
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) is: Yoga Professional Scheme Competence Criteria_Instructor
And Level 2 ( teacher) : Yoga Professional Scheme Competence Criteria_Teacher
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, shatkarma, asanas ( & their benefits) etc. Especially, how it is mentioned in classical authoritative texts. Anything apart from that is derived or experienced knowledge. Which is open for different interpretations.
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.
If you have lost touch with your basic texts or re-reading the classical texts seems daunting to you, then QCI (the scheme has now shifted to YCB & MDINY) published 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.
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.
Human Anatomy: The recent focus
As this exam is about certifying teachers for practical teaching, a basic understanding of human anatomy has gained recent prominence. The focus is 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 affects 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 🙂
What is tested in certification exam (practical)?
So you have cleared the theory exam, now comes the practical exam.
The important point here is that for Level 2 certification, you are expected to clear practical exam separately. Which means you need to pass both theory and practical exam separately.
This highlights the importance of practical exam. And this is not without reason.
You see clearing the theory exam is piece of cake of any graduate in the field of Yoga. But then in real life, you are not reciting theories to people in the class. You are expected to teach them. Using the knowledge you gained from your course.
Which in simple words means, making what you know, useful and actionable for your students. Then only they will get the benefits of yoga.
Thus in the practical exam, your teaching skills, comprehension and communication skills are tested. To avoid bias, this is done by a panel of 3 examiners, who come from three different schools of yoga.
How to prepare for the practical exam:
The best way would be to practice teaching a few beginner’s classes. When you face questions from people who are not a student of any yoga course, you have to make things simple.
This process itself is what improves your understanding of the whole concept. Especially when a student ask why we need to do something or what are the benefits etc., you have dig into your knowledge to present the most relevant, easy to understand answer.
The other suggested way would be to get in touch with other candidates or batchmates and grill each other. It will also be good if your teacher is Level 2 certified as he will be able to guide you to more relevant questions.
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.
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.
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).
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