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Inhale, exhale, and repeat. Deep, conscious breathing is the crux of any yoga lesson, which is what anyone attempting to obtain a yoga instructor certification may need.

In the past years, yoga has been rapidly gaining popularity at UCF, and the Recreation and Wellness Center is making accomodations to adapt to higher demand. Valerie Wexler, an RWC fitness coordinator, said that most of the group exercise yoga classes tend to reach their maximum capacity of 50 yogis per class, and the center is adding more classes and hiring more instructors to keep up with demand.

“Right now we have five yoga instructors, which is more than we had in the past,” Wexler said. “Yoga is one of the most popular classes.”

As more students get bitten by the yoga bug, demand for instructors is also rising, but obtaining a certification to teach yoga may not as easy as learning the breathing techniques.

The certifications can be costly and time-intensive. Kyra Dickie, a RWC group exercise instructor, said that a majority of certification programs require 200 to 500 hours, and some institutions even require a Bikram yoga certification, which involves learning Sanskrit.

She said there are many different types of certifications programs through Yoga Fit or Yoga Alliance, but she obtained her's through a workshop with the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. The one-day workshop is often a more feasible option for students wanting to get certified, and is hosted by the RWC every February for $129.

Although the AFAA certification allows teachers to instruct group exercise yoga classes at the RWC, it does not alone qualify one for employment at regular yoga studios without ample experience, Dickie said. 
“I think they hire a lot based on experience. If I had this certification and I’d been teaching for two years, I’d pretty much audition, show them what I got, and then they would make their decision based off of that,” Dickie said. “However if I went into one right now and say ‘oh, I just taught my first class today, and I’m AFAA-certified;’ they’d probably wean away from that just because it’s not as accredited as having a 200-hour certification like most studios require.”

Dickie has been teaching various group exercise classes at the RWC, but she only recently taught her first yoga class this semester. It was a tranquil experience, according to Richard Jarrell, a senior majoring in Integrative Business who participated in Dickie’s vinyasa flow class, and also aspires to earn a certification through Guruv Yoga.

“She definitely flowed well. She was definitely more of a breathing, relaxation yoga. It wasn’t as much as like what we would do in something like power yoga, or Ashtanga yoga, which is a little bit more intense,” Jarrell said.

Maura McLean, an interdisciplinary studies senior, is planning on getting yoga certified next year in India, and said she doesn't mind the exorbitant price tag.

“I plan to just save up my money. I mean, it’s something that I’m extremely passionate about,” McLean said. “I’m looking forward to spending my money on it because it’s going to hold value for the rest of my life. It’s almost the same thing as paying for college. Knowledge is powerful, so I’m not very concerned about the price of it.”

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Gabby Baquero is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.

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