what is the difference between a cyt and an rytBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP

The question: “What is the difference between a CYT and an RYT,” has been constantly asked by interns. To add to the confusion, the world has many Yoga registries and more than one Alliance. To be brief: An RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) is a registration credential created by the world’s registries and granted to a teacher after a teacher is certified. While there are no set regulations on what level of training is necessary to teach Yoga, choosing to pursue teacher certification demonstrates a teacher’s commitment to yoga. CYT (Certified Yoga Teacher) certification reveals that a yoga instructor has pursued a certain level of education in yogic methods and philosophy. Despite the avalanche of new information, teachers voluntarily continue to improve their skills with a variety of educational avenues available. Onsite workshops and intensives continue to exist while online, distance learning, and virtual courses are readily available.


There are many different programs offering certification to Yoga instructors, and it is up to individual organizations to decide what the appropriate professional requirements are. Globally, there is very little regulation of Yoga. There are some registries, in different countries, which work hard to set standards for Yoga teachers and the public.

Let’s Clarify

What is the difference and how come there is so much confusion? It is important to understand the difference between being certified and being registered as a yoga instructor. You may teach Yoga as either a CYT or an RYT. The difference comes from being registered with the US Yoga Alliance, or another yoga registry, after a certain level of teacher training has been completed according to their requirements.

Depending on the registry, guidelines may change every year and don’t depend on information from third party websites. Some web sites claim the “Alliance is going to change this or that. When in doubt, please contact the prospective registry directly. To be honest, only the registries can truly explain their guidelines and rules changes. They know their own regulations.

On the other hand, if you were to ask, “What is the difference between a CYT and an RYT,” you may get a different answer each time you call and even if you call the same place twice.


The Yoga Alliance publishes their requirements for their RYT credential on their website. As of this writing, they are the only recognized association in the United States that registers Yoga instructors. The main difference between these two acronyms comes from the RYT designation, which is a registered trademark by the Yoga Alliance. Yet, you may see this designation from other registries outside of the United States, which brings up more confusing subjects, such as International law, trademarks, copyrights, and so on.

Becoming a Certified Teacher

Now back to the subject: To become a CYT, or certified yoga teacher, one goes through an educational program with a Yoga teacher training school. Certification is evidence to students that you have pursued an active education in your Yoga practice. Certification as a Yoga teacher allows you to teach Yoga classes and start your own practice.

What is the difference between all these courses? The principal elements of Yoga: asana, breath, meditation, mantra, and more, are focused on within certification programs. Additionally, learning to modify poses for beginners, knowing the fundamentals of posture and alignment, how to explain a pose verbally, and correct common mistakes, is crucial to becoming a certified Yoga teacher.


Many training programs set their standards the same as the US Yoga Alliance, so that when the certification is completed, graduates move forward and can become registered. Other schools are extensive in their training and offer certified graduates the opportunity to gain higher credentials in other ways to reach their training goals. They may also choose to register after further teaching.

Registry Changes and Guidelines

What is the difference between all these rules? It’s hard to keep up with changes, but a minimum number of contact (face-to-face training) hours is required by the US Yoga Alliance to be considered a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT). To know what the current guidelines are, you will want to contact them directly. The framework of these training hours is broken down into five categories of techniques training and practice, anatomy and physiology, Yoga philosophy and ethics, teaching methodology, and practicum. The aim of this program is to have a deep understanding of Yoga, as well as a comprehensive ability in teaching others.


Holding CYT, or RYT, status is an indication that you are committed to Continuing Education (CE) hours to maintain the status. Continuing your education, as you teach, is the best way to grow, while adding expertise as a Yoga practitioner and a teacher. Possessing a Certified or Registered Yoga Teacher certification will provide comfort about competency to students seeking you out.

Consider your training to become a Yoga instructor as part of a lifelong learning experience, yet one that has steps and levels to attain. Much like any other profession that requires a progression of degrees, the practice of Yoga instruction begins with becoming a Certified Yoga Teacher. Now, when you hear someone ask: “What is the difference between a CYT and an RYT,” you have an informed opinion, but when you want to know a specific registry’s policies, read their website and call them directly if you have questions. Guidelines and policies change often, which means: Contact the registry you are interested in, because they know their own rules.

Yoga Registries Around the World

There is more than one Yoga registry for teachers, such as: Canadian Yoga Alliance, Yoga Alliance Professionals (also known as Yoga Alliance UK), International Yoga Federation, Independent Yoga Network, and more. What is the difference between all these registries? It depends on the experience you have if you decide to become a member. Some teachers love the idea of networking with other teachers and registries provide networks. Other teachers complain that the registries are taking the traditional freedom out of teaching Yoga classes. That said, most countries do not require registration at this time. In fact, most teachers are certified only. There are still some uncertified teachers around, but this can be very risky when considering liability and the law. Your local government will know more about regulations within your area.

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