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Senate Bill Passed! VA Yoga Freed from State Regulation

in Business of Yoga, YD News


UPDATE 3/11/10: VA Gov. Robert F. McDonnell signed the bill Tuesday night…(WashingtonPost)

Hear ye! Hear ye! We just got word from Suzanne Leitner-Wise…the Senate bill has passed! Based on the constitutional right to freedom of speech VA yoga teachers beat the gov for exemption from regulation and from falling under the terms of “vocation” in VA State. In the same way NY yogis have been fighting to stay out from under the government’s thumb, VA has been struggling with a similar battle for control and independence.

via ij.org

This case seeks to vindicate the right of all Virginians to speak and earn an honest living. That is why, on December 1, 2009, yoga-teacher trainers Julia Kalish, Suzanne Leitner-Wise, and Beverly Brown teamed up with the Institute for Justice to challenge the constitutionality of Virginias vocational-school law as applied to yoga-teacher trainers.

Anyone in Virginia can do yoga, and anyone can teach yoga.  But, incredibly, it is illegal to teach people to teach yoga.  Yoga-teacher training is just the latest target of vocational school licensing laws that require countless entrepreneurs to ask the government’s permission before opening their mouths.
Vocational-school licensing burdens both economic liberty and freedom of speech.  The cost of compliance is typically thousands of dollars and over a week of full-time administrative work.  For owners of small schools, these costs can make the difference between viability and closing down.

(see more about it in the video below)

Earlier in February, both the House bill (HB 703) and the separate Senate bill, SB 598, passed on their own. Today we can announce that the combined legislature got the final vote and passed! Congrats to VA yoga teachers who fought hard for the win!

Q: What does the yogadork gallery think? Is yoga a vocation or avocation? Is yoga teacher training job prep that should be regulated?

EarlierCall to Action: Help Yoga in New York

Missouri Taxes Studios, Texas to Join in Licensing Battle, Everyone Tries to Define Yoga
VA Licensing Update: Yogis Rally Rebuttal, Open Avocation vs. A Vocation Debate

9 comments… add one
  • sangos

    I thought this was about taxation(correct me), which is OK considering the big bucks Yoga teachers in the west make (no correction needed and unbelievable for us in India)

  • i mean, it is regulated, in a sense by the yoga alliance. most programs fall under that…

  • Congrats to Yoga VA and its teachers.

  • Hurray for sangos, it is not about taxation, it is about regulation. We pay our taxes. Yoga Alliance is voluntary (yogis regulating themselves) whereas government regulation is unwelcome. Do you want the government to regulate your meditation practice, your tai chi, your aerobics, your swim class? Yogis in Texas have launched the Texas Yoga Association now in a big way to fight the power and have been discussing with yogis and attorneys about how to approach the Texas Workforce Commission, the State Legislature and how to build a grass roots campaign. Check it out: http://www.texyoga.com

    I will say that the larger, corporate yoga institutions do not seem to mind regulation or otherwise seem to encourage it, and my personal opinion is that the reason is that licensing fees will be a barrier to entry for smaller studios to have teacher trainings, and hence elimination of competition. The majority of smaller studios and non-big business affiliated teachers that make up the majority of yoga studio owners and teachers do not want the gummint meddling in their affairs.

  • We don’t believe the State should be imposing fees and burdomsome paperwork onto small mom-n-pop type yoga studios during a time of recession. Nor should the government have any role in regulating yoga – a 5000+ year old tradition that frankly the State knows nothing about. To top it off, VA already has a consumer protection law in place that already protects future yoga teachers from nefarious yoga teacher training programs.

    This is a huge win for us and hopefully for other states dealing with this issue.

  • emily

    It is ironic how VA is a conservative state and as such believes that gov’t intervention is bad for business. Yet they have a lot of regulations on the state level that do just that.

    I’m glad that the yoga teachers won.

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