Yoga Teacher Titles Explained – Difference Between CYT, RYT, And More

If you are an aspiring yoga teacher you may be curious to learn more about the various titles that yoga instructors hold – CYT, RYT, E-RYT to name just a few. I don't know about you, but it took me a bit of research to grasp all of this new jargon because the world of yoga is abundant with acronyms! In this article we’re going to break down and describe the various certification levels you can hold once you’ve successfully completed yoga teacher training. We’re also going to better define Yoga Alliance and what it means to be registered with YA as a school or yoga teacher.

Let’s take a look at the difference between a CYT and a RYT first and demystify some of this yoga lingo!

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What is the difference between a CYT and RYT?

What is a CYT or Certified Yoga Teacher

A CYT or ‘certified yoga teacher' is a yoga teacher that has completed any all-encompassing yoga teacher training.

A CYT has completed the number of required learning hours that their chosen school has designated as the minimum educational hours (likely 200 hours) to complete to earn a yoga teaching certification from their program. They have become certified to teach yoga by their school.

Typically once a CYT has registered with Yoga Alliance they will start using the acronym RYT (registered yoga teacher) moving forward. This is just an observation.

Anyone who completes a yoga teacher training should receive a yoga teaching certificate from the YTT or ‘yoga teacher training' program that they have completed.

Yoga Alliance does not issue teaching certifications, this is a common area of confusion. If you've been wondering if you even need to be certified to teach yoga, really, the answer is yes and no! Legally no, you do not need to be certified, but to be employable yes, you need to be certified!


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What is a RYT or Registered Yoga Teacher

A RYT or ‘registered yoga teacher' has completed a minimum of 200 hours of learning and non-contact hours at a RYS or ‘registered yoga school', and they have decided to register with Yoga Alliance after completing their YTT.

The RYT title indicates that the yoga school the yoga teacher attended had their yoga teacher training curriculum approved by Yoga Alliance. A yoga teacher who attends training at a Registered Yoga School can decide to then become a Registered Yoga Teacher after completing yoga teacher training.

To make it simple – anytime the title begins with R it is associated with Yoga Alliance:

  • RYS: Registered Yoga School
  • RYT: Registered Yoga Teacher

Even after completing a 200-hour yoga teacher training program at a RYS, a yoga teacher is not required to register with Yoga Alliance, but many choose to register with YA or ‘Yoga Alliance'.

Yoga Alliance registers yoga teachers at 5 levels: 200hr, 300hr, 500hr, E-RYT 200 and E-RYT 500. RYT 300's are yoga teachers who have completed their 200 hour and their 300 hour certification courses.

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What is a E-RYT 200 or Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher 200 hour

This credential signifies that a yoga teacher has completed a 200-hour teacher training with a RYS, and has at least 1,000 hours of teaching experience since completing training, and has also taught for at least two years post-training.

What is a E-RYT 500 or Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher 500 hour

This credential signifies that the yoga teacher has completed a 500-hour teacher training with a RYS (or a 200 hour and 300 hour training separately), and has at least 2,000 hours of teaching experience since completing the training, and has taught for at least 4 years post-training.

What is a RYS or Registered Yoga School

A RYS or ‘registered yoga school' is a school that is affiliated with Yoga Alliance. They have paid the fee(s), had their curriculum approved by YA, and it fulfills the specific educational requirements as designated by Yoga Alliance. This means that students who complete their program have the option to register with Yoga Alliance upon program completion. 

Registered yoga schools have also had their teaching staff accepted by Yoga Alliance as qualified to be certifying other yoga teachers.

According to, it is important to note that Yoga Alliance does not certify yoga teachers. YA allows yoga teachers to register with them once they have completed a yoga teacher certification course at a RYS.

What is Yoga Alliance

That brings us to better defining what exactly Yoga Alliance is. Yoga Alliance was founded in 1999 to better regulate the yoga industry, to put it in layman's terms. With the formation of the Yoga Alliance, the members and staff of the alliance created standards, rules, and a paid membership database for registered yoga schools and registered yoga teachers to join.

Part of their standards means better defining what a yoga teacher training should consist of and thus what a yoga teacher should theoretically know upon completion of YTT.  Yoga Alliance has decided that a certain number of learning hours should be spent studying certain subjects or topics during teacher training for graduates to be effective and knowledgeable yoga teachers. This includes topics such as: yoga history, yoga philosophy, yoga anatomy, pranayama and teaching skills. YA Standards are ever-evolving, see below for the most current Yoga Alliance standards.

Yoga Alliance 200 RYS yoga teacher training requirements infographic. 200 hour online yoga teacher training course requirements.
Yoga Alliance yoga teacher training standards

The idea behind YA is to ensure that curriculum standards are being standardized worldwide for yoga teachers and yoga schools, so to speak. A yoga teacher who has completed a YTT at a RYS in India should then theoretically have a similar in-depth understanding of the same core topics and concepts as a yoga teacher who has completed a YTT in the USA at a RYS.

Yoga Alliance also requires RYT’s to uphold their code of conduct and be committed to continuing education. These are known as CE or ‘continuing education' credits. RYT's must complete 75 hours of CE credits after initial registration with Yoga Alliance.

In order to become a RYS or ‘registered yoga school', schools need to submit their syllabus to Yoga Alliance and have it signed off on.

Why would a school or yoga teacher choose not to register with Yoga Alliance

There are a number of reasons why a school or yoga teacher may choose not to register with Yoga Alliance. One of those reasons being cost. The Yoga Alliance charges a registration fee and an annual fee to both RYS’s and RYT’s. See below for Yoga Alliance 2021 fees.

Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher membership dues chart
Yoga Alliance fees 2021 Registered Yoga Teachers
Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga School fees chart
Yoga Alliance fees 2021 Registered Yoga Schools

Another reason a school may choose to not register with YA is that their curriculum does not align with the standards that Yoga Alliance has set. This doesn’t mean that their curriculum is inferior, but perhaps it’s just different.

A third reason for choosing not to participate is that a school or teacher has chosen to register with another association. World Yoga Federation, for example.

If all of this seems overwhelming to you, you’re not alone! You will come to understand all of this even better during the business portion of your yoga teacher training.


CYT: Certified Yoga Teacher
CE: Continuing Education
E-RYT 200: Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher, 200 hour Certification
E-RYT 500: Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher, 500 hour Certification
RYS: Registered Yoga School
RYT: Registered Yoga Teacher
TTC: Teacher Training Course
YA: Yoga Alliance
YTT: Yoga Teacher Training

We hope this article has helped to clarify questions you may have had about yoga teacher training some of the acronyms in the professional yoga world! Our article about the differences between RYT 200, RYT 300, and RYT 500 delves deeper into the various yoga certification levels if you're unsure of which teacher training path is for you, or if you're simply wanting to learn more.

Another common topic that aspiring yoga teachers are curious about is if it is really possible to earn a living as a yoga teacher. Check out our article that divulges some of the secrets of the 6 figure yoga teachers!

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to make your dreams a reality. Discover the best yoga instructor training in Thailand if you've been dreaming of training in Paradise!

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Heather is the visionary behind The Yogatique - her passion project. Heather is a RYT-200 (with Aligned Yoga), a practicing yogi of more than 15 years, a global citizen, a life optimizer, and a lifelong learner. She created The Yogatique to assist yogis in finding premium online yoga teacher trainings & classes that are affordable and accessible to all.

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