Federation: Anyone can be a yoga teacher in Finland

Finland's yoga federation says practitioners should look into their teachers' credentials.

Yoga, which first arrived in Finland in the 1950s, is today part of a broad wellness industry trend. Image: Johanna Talasterä / Yle

Finland does not have set criteria for yoga instructors or teachers. That said, anyone can start teaching a yoga class in the country.

The Finnish yoga federation (Suomen Joogaliitto), which also runs its own programme for aspiring teachers, said it now wants Finland to establish national standards for yoga teacher training.

The association told the Finnish News Agency STT that numerous yoga teacher training courses—ranging in duration from a few months to several years—have cropped up in Finland over the past decade.

"There's a broad range of skill level when it comes to yoga professionals in Finland. Generally yoga teacher courses are more time-intensive than ones geared at future instructors," said Sirpa Immonen, who runs the Finnish yoga federation's teacher training courses.

Immonen said applicants to the federation's teacher training course must have two years' experience practicing with a certified teacher before applying for the programme lasting five to six years.

She pointed out that teachers with relatively little training may not have enough knowledge of the type of yoga they're teaching, as the ancient form of fitness encompasses many different aspects.

"Very physically challenging types of yoga require good knowledge of postures and anatomy. Overextending in certain positions can lead to joint problems," Immonen explained.

From side hustle to full-time job

Minna Lahdenperä, president of the Finnish yoga federation, said it's difficult to estimate how many yoga instructors and teachers are active in Finland as new teacher training courses are starting all the time.

"Our federation alone has trained 900 teachers in Finland," she said.

Ten years ago, most yoga teachers taught classes on the side, according to Lahdenperä. Finland has, however, seen many private yoga schools established in recent years, with many teachers also running their own businesses. This means more people are making a full-time living by teaching what has become a popular form of physical exercise.

Yoga, tied to ancient Indian philosophy, first arrived in Finland in the 1950s. The country experienced a yoga boom in the early 2000s, and the practice has continued to attract followers since.

"People are looking for a way of balancing their hectic pace of life. They want to calm down but also maintain their physical health," Lahdenperä added.