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Licensing Update: Virginia Joins in ‘Pay Now or Pay Later’ The State vs. Yoga Studios

in Business of Yoga, YD News

aum_stamp_of_approvalWhile we in NY toil away in bemoaning the state’s lack of foresight and overall asininity on licensing (catch yourself up here), brethren yogis down in VA are tackling their own version of money-grabasana.

Double Dog Yoga Blog (Julia Kalish) has the lowdown on hoops and ring-around-the-rosies yoga studios face down in the lovers’ state. Claiming yoga studios with teacher training are essentially “postsecondary” schools VA state government is demanding each training facility to obtain and sustain a “Certificate to Operate,” at substantial cost.

From June 5 update: Handed down from upon high, the Commonwealth known as Virginia has joined in on the clampdown party ordering that yoga studios with teacher training programs be required to file for a state “Certificate to Operate,” which involves:

  • Attending an orientation in Richmond ($150)
  • Submitting a (16 page) certificate application, with a fee ($2500), which was later revealed to be a recurring! (that’s $2500 every year)
  • Withstading a site visit (no major details on this besides a hunt for violations – keep reading)

Oh and there may be additional fees depending on the studio’s income. Rounding out the update DDYB noted that 4 studios had decided to call it quits and close up training shop entirely, and 20 are left to weather the mounting headaches.

June 8 update: Random Audits. On top of the lengthy application process and fees, in order to be approved VA studios must agree to random audits, which to us basically amounts to the law enforcement’s version of seat belt and parking tickets (easy cash). What are these “offenses” and how much does each violation of the Virginia Administrative Code cost? $1000 bucks!

In 2007 Virginia audited 36 schools and found whopping total of 177 violations – about 5 violations per school. At $1,000 per violation, that means EACH SCHOOL PAID ON AVERAGE $5,000 IN VIOLATION FEES.

The violations were:

  • Advertising – 32 violations
  • Faculty Credentials – 27 violations
  • No written documentation on history of school and/or ownership – 25 violations
  • Student policy (including grievance process) missing or incomplete – 19
  • violations
  • Improperly maintaining student admissions or financial records – 16 violations
  • Incorrect refund policy or incorrect processing of refunds – 16 violations

With the remaining 42, Julia notes, fishily absent from the list. Documentation and credentials though? Our best advice: get your act in gear, fast.

Back in April we grumbled, as trainees, about paying what our credit cards can attest to be in the ‘$$$’ range for teacher training. Do not think that we take that back, we’re still paying off training from a year and a half ago! This is the Recession people. But, hearing the laments from the side of studio owners we can sympathize in how this must  be a major pain in the ass. The monster studios we don’t feel so sad for, but the little guys just trying to stay afloat are the ones hurting the most. To that we say, take a page from NY, Yogis Unite! (because it sure doesn’t sound like the Yoga Alliance has helped much in the matter) On that note, we don’t know for sure if VA sniffed out the ‘applicable’ schools based on YA registration as they did in NY.

Thanks so much to Julia for following this so closely in VA.

With yoga taking on a much larger roll in lifestyle acceptance and even healthcare, is this fair play or dirty business?

Earlier…NY State Licensing Update: Yogis Unite!

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