The Fascinating Yoga Philosophy, Lifestyle & Ethics Section Of Yoga Teacher Training: What You’ll Learn

Learning to teach asana and other yoga practice techniques makes up the bulk (100 hours) of a 200-hour yoga teacher training course. However, one smaller but equally important module you will study is yoga philosophy, lifestyle, and ethics.

There are no strict guidelines designated by Yoga Alliance on how RYS’s (Registered Yoga Schools) need to cover this section, so each school will approach and cover the Yoga philosophy & ethics section a bit differently. However, generally speaking, certain ancient texts and principles are always studied.

While this section is typically only 30 hours long, it is incredibly comprehensive. The yoga philosophy and ethics section of yoga teacher training introduces you to the history of yoga, allowing you to learn more about where the practice you've fallen in love with initially came from.

This section also highlights the importance of practicing yoga off the mat. As yoga teachers, we teach and inspire others not just through what we teach in our classes but also by how we live our lives. 

Thus, this module teaches you how to adopt the yamas and niyamas into your daily life and how to teach in an ethical and service-driven way. 

So, if you're currently preparing for a 200-hour yoga teacher training and want a sneak peek into what you will learn, read on for an overview of the Yoga Philosophy, Lifestyle, and Ethics for Yoga Teachers section.

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What you'll study in the yoga philosophy, lifestyle, & ethics portion of yoga teacher training

As you can see in the image below from Yoga Alliance, the yoga philosophy, lifestyle, and ethics part of yoga teacher training covers:

  • Yoga philosophy
  • Yoga lifestyle
  • Ethics for yoga teachers
  • Seva – teaching yoga as a service
Image from Yoga Alliance that describes the yoga philosophy & ethics part yoga teacher training. 1. Yoga philosophy 2. Yoga lifestyle 3. Ethics for yoga teachers 4. Seva - teaching yoga as a service.

We'll dive into each of the areas of study below.

Yoga philosophy – studying the ancient yogic texts

This part of the section involves an introduction to traditional yoga texts, like the Yoga Sutras. The main topic of this module is the eight limbs of yoga, as taught by Patanjali. You will learn how asana (yoga poses) is just one of the eight aspects of yoga practice.

For me, the key takeaway from the yoga philosophy part of my YTT was the niyamas and yamas. I had read about them in various yoga books before doing my training, but discussing them as a group helped me fully understand how they relate to the modern world and how we can implement them in our teaching, practice, and lifestyle. 

The fifteenth-century text Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Svatmarama is another typical book studied in yoga teacher training. Your lead teacher will not only draw from this when teaching asana instruction but will reference it when teaching various other aspects of yoga, such as the bandhas (energetic locks).

Another fascinating part of this section for me was learning about the chakra system, the eight energy centers that run up the spine and into the head.  

Yoga lifestyle – living like a yogi

Most yoga enthusiasts, myself included, don't realize the importance of living a yogic lifestyle until they do their 200-hour yoga teacher training certification. This part of the module delves into various yogic concepts, including dharma and karma. 

In simple terms, dharma is about finding and following your unique purpose in life. It's about tapping into your inner essence, then expressing it in everything you do. Karma is one of the four classical yogic paths and translates to “yoga of action.” It is a way to attain spiritual liberation through selfless service.

Another common topic around the yogic lifestyle is the yama ahimsa. Ahimsa is all about living a life of compassion and non-violence. As you will learn, ahimsa takes many forms, as we can unconsciously cause harm through our words, actions, thoughts, and everyday choices, like what we eat.

Ethics for yoga teachers

While ethics may not be the most exciting part of your YTT, it is a topic every serious yoga teacher trainee should pay attention to. This is especially true today when the number of qualified yoga teachers is rapidly rising. 

Learning how to be an ethical yoga teacher will set you apart from the crowd, as your students will see that you are professional and take what you do incredibly seriously. 

Discussion topics about yoga teacher ethics include student relationships (hint; never date your students!) and your role in the community. 

Moreover, honesty is another crucial ethic, relating to the yama Satya (truthfulness). As yoga teachers, we should always be honest with our students; for example, we should never praise their progress falsely. However, we should seek to balance honesty with understanding and kindness. 

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Seva – teaching yoga as a service

Seva is an important yogic concept, meaning selfless service or doing something for others without personal gain. This is a hugely important lesson in any yoga teacher training program as it reminds us why we are choosing to embark on this journey. 

Chances are, yoga has helped you immensely and positively changed your life in some way. Now you want to share the magic of yoga with the world, helping to facilitate the transformation of others. 

However, if you start teaching yoga full-time, it becomes your career, so you naturally begin to think about it with a business mindset. Seva serves as a lifelong lesson about the value of teaching yoga as a service so that you don't get caught up in the business side of it.

Through the concept of seva, we are first and foremost being of service to others through yoga. The real reward we get from this is knowing we are contributing to a collective benefit. Our personal gain, i.e., the fact that we can make a living from doing so, is just a bonus. 

When we approach our teaching with this mindset, we can better serve others, and thus, our students will experience a more profound transformation. We will find more meaning and purpose, and therefore, we will stay aligned with our dharma. 

Takeaway on yoga philosophy, lifestyle, & ethics section of yoga teacher training

Yoga philosophy and ethics might be just a small section in your 200-hour yoga teacher training, but it is an incredibly important and powerful one. If you're currently preparing for your yoga teacher training course, why not explore some of these concepts further? The Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Yoga Sutras by Patanjali are two great starting points!

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Gemma is a Certified Yoga Teacher of over 5 years. Aside from being a CYT 200, Gemma is also certified in Yin and Yoga Nidra. Gemma is passionate about sharing her expertise of yoga and wellness through words, guiding others along the path of personal and spiritual development. She is in LOVE with everything related to personal-growth and psychology. Aside from helping others find more peace and stillness, Gemma runs a kitten rescue project in Thailand, where she is currently residing. Gemma can be reached at, or you can connect with Gemma on LinkedIn.

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