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Yoga Alliance Approved, My Ass

in Business of Yoga, YD News, YogOpinions

by J. Brown

Flipping through the catalog for a big name yoga and retreat center, I was shocked to notice that they advertised their yoga teacher training programs as “Yoga Alliance Approved.” Misrepresentations like this are the dirty little secret of the yoga industry. No one really wants to admit there is no accreditation for Yoga.

Anyone who claims to be “approved”, “certified” or “licensed” by the Yoga Alliance is either grossly uninformed or disingenuous. The YA maintains a registry of yoga teachers and training programs. In filling out the paperwork and paying the fees, yoga teachers and training programs purport to follow a vague set of curriculum guidelines that are posted on the YA website and assume a service mark of RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) or RYS (Registered Yoga School).

What no one ever seems to acknowledge or mention is that the YA provides no oversight whatsoever. No one checks to see if anyone is actually doing what they say. Everyone is on the “honor” system. Consequently, the registry amounts to a digital rubber stamp or paid advertising. Not to mention, the YA does not disclose what they do with the money they collect from the Yoga community.

Even if everyone is being true to their word, referring to the YA guidelines as “standards” is quite a stretch. For example, being registered at the 200 hr level is said to have 20 hours of yoga philosophy. Generally, this entails a cursory reading of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s and a written test, kind of like reading the chapter and answering the summary questions in my 9th grade social studies class.

Given the profound diversity of texts and interpretations that exist within Yoga philosophy, simply designating 20 hours of time means absolutely nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel strongly about Yoga teachers and schools being held to high standards. My point is that Yoga is not an academic pursuit. Attempts to standardize Yoga training into a set of requisite hours completely undermines yoga pedagogy, which is not contingent on time.

“Standards” implies greater quality, not a specific quantity of time spent on who knows what. If we want to encourage more qualified yoga teachers, lets start talking about “competencies” instead of hours and, more importantly, lets be straightforward with the public so they can make informed choices.

Brian Castellani, the founder of yoganomics.net, has been leading a personal crusade to hold the YA to account for its misgivings. Initially, he was hoping to bring integrity back to the YA but, as he has continued to dig into the YA’s activities and policies, his sentiments have changed. He recounts a conversation with Jeanine Frest, the longest standing employee of the YA up until she quit in 2010, where she said, “Maybe it would be better to scrap everything and start over.”

I can already hear my wife’s criticism of this post. When I mentioned to her the topic I was taking on, she said, “Oh really? I think its better when you stay ‘positive’ like last month’s thing on Nurturing.” She thinks I do myself a disservice by inviting controversy and she is probably right.

I almost heeded her call until a recent exchange with an editor at the megalith of yoga-related publishing. She told me that the credo for their bloggers is “What are you adding to the conversation?” I didn’t think it wise to speak my mind as freely as I might, but what I really wanted to say was, “What conversation?”

As far as I can tell, there is not much of a real conversation happening. In risking the ire of others, I suppose I’m hoping to get one started. I don’t think holding the Yoga industry’s feet to the fire by shining a light on hypocrisies and inconsistencies is negative. In fact, Yoga encourages this sort of discernment.

Yoga also encourages truthfulness. The fact that the only trade organization offering a title to Yoga professionals is not an example of being truthful does not speak well to the profession of Yoga.

At the very least, any trade organization that wants to represent the yoga community must operate with complete transparency and accountability. Members of that organization must also do the same. Anything less is a discredit to Yoga and deserves scrutiny.

~

J. Brown is a yoga teacher, writer and founder of Abhyasa Yoga Center in Brooklyn, NY.  His writing has been featured in Yoga Therapy in Practice, Yoga Therapy Today and the International Journal of Yoga Therapy.  Visit his website at yogijbrown.com.

~


Recent articles by J. Brown:

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62 comments… add one

  • E.R.

    Thanks for the post J! This is a topic that needs critical discussion. I would add that in looking for a teacher training program, people should consider the reputation of the studio and look closely at the requirements for the program as well as the quality of the content (does the studio bring in master teachers for workshops, does the curriculum stress training in anatomy, etc.).

  • Thank you for the article of discussion. What does YA do with the money? It cost more to maintain a RYT than my nursing license in California! More hours on and off the mat for CEU’s. None of which makes you a good teacher. E.R brings up a good point, a curriculum that stresses training in anatomy. My training did not stress anatomy, only what was required by YA, shoddy at best. My nursing background and BS in Dietetics saved me in that area of study. For crying out loud YA is a big coorperation that is out to make money. The only thing they oversee are your dues. Let’s face it there are good teachers and bad teachers whether you are YA-RYT or not.

  • Curriculum development and standardization for yoga teacher training is a major, ongoing issue and one where our field is definitely lacking. Likewise, there is really very little training available for those who would like to teach yoga teachers. Yoga Alliance simply reflects the primitive state of the field as a whole Without standardized training, how could a program be evaluated? Is it YA’s responsibility to develop the standards? Probably not. Different schools teach very different types of Yoga and each has their own standards. Sometimes these standards are stated explicitly, but mostly they are not. Without explicit publication of standards and the methods used to ensure that students have achieved them, there is no accountability.

  • there’s a lot of ramifications regarding realizing that yoga is not one standardized thing or state of being or accreditation -

    * various states’ attempts to regulate yoga teacher training

    * various yoga groups attempts to be classified as religions, to escape regulation

    * calls or intimations of requirements for “a” yoga community by yoga “spokespeople” to support or participate in occupying various things and places

    these are legitimate serious issues, with lasting consequences depending on “any” of the ways this is eventually handled

    and so there’s not “too” many sidetracks, i do support the ideas of more equality, and responsive representation by our elected representatives, and people being more responsible, just not “required” by religious or non-religious, or guru or non-guru yoga reps

    the real movement, across the world, is for more and more individual acceptance of the responsibilities of democracy, including choosing how we each elect to contribute, both productively in general, and towards alleviating inequalities

    another nice article j brown – but i wonder, has your wife not seen some of your other articles that’ve raised a rukus? ;-) ala Nonviolence, Hypocrisy and Veganism? ;-)
    http://yogadork.com.s157905.gridserver.com/yogopinions/nonviolence-hypocrisy-and-veganism/

  • I have been teaching for almost three decades and I have watched the yoga business change incredibly with the avalanche of teacher trainings. Yes, I have even offered a few (with 104 people) because people wanted to learn from me. I never thought I would be a part of that; on the one hand the huge growth in yoga has surprised me, especially the number of young teachers from the numerous trainings everywhere. There are so many issues arising around yoga these days. Thank you for pointing out one of many- another being the issue of earning a living as something you have devoted your life to- between the rock star yoga teachers and the new ones scrambling to find their place.

  • TM

    Thanks for this. I am not a yoga “insider” by any means and I have always wondered exactly what the YA standards were. This is an informative and helpful piece.

    I think sticking to “positive” articles does the yoga community a disservice. Yoga is a multi-billion dollar industry where there are obviously going to be people who are in it to earn a quick buck. For those of us who care about the practice it is important to understand how we may be being misled. Yoga is as much about conscious activism as it is about staying “positive”, and that activism should begin within freedom of expression about the yoga industry itself.

  • Elizabeth

    I think most of the yoga teachers I have personally met need more training. My two biggest issues are with anatomy and philosophy, though I’m also annoyed with teachers who know nothing outside of The One Truth of Their Yoga School. Once I met a student who was having knee pain in side angle pose–clearly because his knee, ankle, and foot were grossly misaligned–and his yoga teacher told him he was releasing toxins and would feel better if he just kept practicing. Another time I took class with a teacher who began class with a creative flow sequence that reminded me of Shiva Rea meets Power Yoga, which the teacher then announced was “Surya Namaskar B.” I wonder what planet these teachers are from… While not knowing philosophy and only living in your own personal yoga box annoy me, at least they don’t pose any physical danger for the student.

    here are my broad standards for yoga teachers: I think that in service to our students, every yoga teacher should be completely transparent about what they studied, where, when, and with whom. (My yoga resume is open to any student who wants it.) I think a teacher should be honest with students about what they teach (“yes, I studied with X but I don’t teach in the XYZ style”//”while I took ABC Yoga training, I am not licensed/approved to use that name”). I think every teacher should be pursuing his/her own continuing yoga education by reading/studying AND taking class with other teachers, again because this is beneficial to all. I think yoga teachers should be more comfortable saying, “I don’t know the answer to your question, but I can go try to find you an answer” and that we should each recognize our own not-so-strong areas. The problem is that there isn’t a good way to “track” this or otherwise keep tabs on it, and any self-reporting system is subject to the criticism that people can lie (and also omit information).

  • While its true that the motives of YA may be suspect, resulting in a poor methodology of “approvals”, perhaps we should give them credit for initiating some kind of system in quantifying things. No one denies that quantity can never substitute quality, but if these standards are seen in the spirit of self evaluation as a start upon which to build on further, it may result in better teachers overall. What’s that they say about not throwing the baby out with… :)

  • I agree that “if these standards are seen in the spirit of self-evaluation as a start upon which to build further, it may result in better teachers.” In fact, that was the original idea behind creating GUIDELINES. A suggested curriculum for helping people in their studies is not the same thing as “standards” which implies real accreditation. I am in favor of a trade organization that provides resources for better learning. Unfortunately, the YA does not present itself this way and yoga professionals are using the registry to make misleading claims about yoga training. This does not serve yoga or the yoga industry.

  • michelle

    I couldn’t agree more with this post, J. , and with the replies in the comments. I have yet to see what benefits registering with the Yoga Alliance, beyond a subscription to Yoga Journal, really brings.

    (Note to yoga teachers looking for insurance – you need NOT get it through the YA – you can get it direct from the insurer (Philadelphia Insurance Company is the one they use) and not pay the middle man fee that the YA charges to “facilitate” this.)

    I have interviewed teachers who have claimed they went through “200-hour” training with “YA accredited” schools who have only a cursory understanding of anatomy, who don’t know how to safely and compassionately assist students, and who know just the basics of the Yoga Sutras and Yoga philosophy. Essentially, they’ve been taught an exercise routine with some feel-good, motivational philosophy thrown in. This is dangerous, frankly. Being a yoga teacher – a good yoga teacher – is a huge responsibility and takes years of training and study.

    One budding teacher told me that she never learned the Sanskrit names for the postures, because the training program she took said Sanskrit was “too much of a turn off for American students,” so they removed it and Anglicized all the posture names. (Sanskrit is a vital part of yoga, certainly from a practical standpoint – it’s the lingua franca of yoga, the yoga mother-tongue. We disrespect Yoga’s origins when we avoid it.)

    It just seems to me that many (but certainly not all) yoga teacher training programs are just money makers for studios. I bemoan the fact that folks who supposedly are teachers of teachers have essentially “sanitized” yoga to make it more palatable for Americans.

    I may offend many when I say this, but I suspect (cynically, I know) that they do this not because they are trying to “develop something new and better” (a pretty egotistical thing in and of itself, considering that there’s probably 4000+ years of research and insight into what’s been handed down to us – who are we to think we could make it “better”??) but because they want/need to make more money.

    And, I suspect that the YA is really just that, too – another means of making money. Not that that’s a bad thing, but still…

  • Not only do you not need to go through YA to get yoga teacher insurance, you don’t need to be a certified yoga teacher. Philadelphia Insurance Company does not ask for any documentation as to training. Just fill out the forms and pay the premium and they will give you the policy. How about that?

    As regards quality training: I don’t think that 200hr training means that someone should know all the Sanskrit names or is extensively studied in anatomy. The point is to encourage real learning and honesty. Being competent in providing safe practice and having clear boundaries in scope of practice is not contingent on book learning. An initial training is just a way of providing the jump off for continued studies. The problem is the current convention creates an impression of credibility where there is often none.

    I do think that yoga teacher training (and the registering therein) has become more about making money then learning yoga. Definitely a problem.

  • michelle

    I didn’t mean to imply that I think a 200 hour training should include learning “all the Sanskrit names.” My point was complete avoidance of the Sanskrit, mainly because it may not be palatable to some students, disrespects this ancient *Indian* philosophy. As teachers, we should respect the Indian roots of this practice. They knew a hell of a lot more than we do and it’s hubris to change it – Westernize it – with the intent to “make it better”.

    Don’t the various movements and forms of ballet get taught in French to students? – see here: http://www.abt.org/education/dictionary/index.html

    Sure, the difference between ballet and yoga is that ballet is an art/dance form and yoga can be a spiritual – i.e. religious – practice. And, yes, when we use Sanskrit, we risk turning off a person who may not – yet – be open to something beyond their own set of spiritual beliefs.

    However, from a purely practical standpoint, Sanskrit is the universal language of yoga, as French is the universal language of ballet/dance.

    Take, for example the several names of Uttkatasana – in English, I have heard it referred to as: Squat, Thunderbolt, Awkward and Fierce pose.

    Wouldn’t it just be easier to all be on the same page and refer to it as Uttkatasana?

    While I have no idea about certification of dance teachers, my gut tells me a qualified ballet teacher – one who teaches at a school or college – is expected to know the French terminology before they can teach ballet to someone else.

    And, just as a ballet teacher would expect his/her students to eventually understand what “Fouetté rond de jambe en tournant” meant, by using the Sanskrit name, we are asking the same of the yoga student – or the aspiring teacher – to discipline themselves to learn something beyond their own ken, and to grow in their own knowledge, acceptance and understanding of this ancient, venerable practice, and yes, Indian practice.

  • Your point is well taken. I agree that Sanskrit is fundamental to our understanding of yoga and should not be “sanitized” out of the practice. The word “Yoga” does mean something and Sanskrit words are open to wide interpretation in translation.

  • JeffreyD

    Insisting on Sanskrit comes across as fetishizing the Oriental aspects. For me it’s all just a collection of syllables. I appreciate yoga postures having standardized names, but whether the names are Sanskrit or English or Mandarin really have no bearing.

    I don’t follow Indian mysticism and don’t care about the religious experience of my teacher. It’s totally outside of my interests or concern.

    Not to be rude but I guess you have a very hippie view of yoga being a pseudo-Indian system of philosophy, where for most people it’s a form of exercise. That doesn’t invalidate hippie yoga, but insisting that everybody else do the same as you is poor form.

  • michelle

    I’m not talking about teaching exercise, Jeffrey. If you want to teach Yoga, then Sanskrit is a part of it, I contend.

    I’m teaching as my teacher taught me. She learned it from Pattabhi Jois – an Indian man who was also a Sanskrit scholar. No hippie-dippie, India fetishizing intent behind it. Just doing what I was taught.

    Still, as I was expected to by my teacher, I expect my students to eventually learn the Sanskrit names, too, with my help. It’s part of the discipline of the Ashtanga Yoga practice to learn it.

    There’s no coercion on my part. If folks want to learn it, they learn it. And, I share the English equivalent when my students are lost by the Sanskrit. I’m not a fascist.

    Eventually, interestingly, though, the Sanskrit sinks in for folks. (I’m not sure why it would be bad or poor form to actually learn something a cool as an ancient language, one of the oldest languages on Earth, but…whatever.)

    Yoga – all forms of the practice, from ethical precepts through asana and breath control and meditation – is designed to quell the fluctuations of the mind. A rockin’ body is only a temporary “benefit”. But, that seems to be the intent of many “yoga classes” these days.

    They are missing the point.

    If Sanskrit and chanting helps to quiet the mind and bring folks some peace and solace and connection – and I believe it can and it does – then why not use it, too? It’s just another tool in the Yoga kit, so to speak.

    For most folks, it’s a lot easier to chant a mantra, then to try to put their foot behind their head in eka pada sirsasana or balance on their arms in bakasana.

    Many paths. One truth. Om.

  • This exchange between Michelle and Jeffrey represents one of the great divides that needs to be dealt with before any kind of training standards have any possibility of being credible. I get the sense that the majority of yoga studios and teacher training programs are trying to toe a line between the “secular, exercise and health” folks and yoga as a spiritual discipline. I don’t know about the rest of you all, but I don’t think this line toeing is working very well.

    Seems to me that having clearer divisions between exercise and health yoga, and yoga as a spiritual path would make it a lot easier to talk about what goes into being a good teacher.

  • abbylou

    I have not done a teacher training program, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

    My first exposure to yoga was asana. Knowing a little sanskrit has been really helpful to me as I have moved on to studying philosophy and meditation. It has enabled me to recognize the roots of words that I associate with asana and understand how they apply to the philosophical concept I am studying. This is important.

    I started out only seeing yoga as a form of exercise, but after several years of practice I have opened and experienced the yoga in broader ways. One day I actually could feel that I do have a central axis, sushumna. That was a powerful moment, and it changed my life. I probably would never have discovered it without practicing so much asana.

  • KatieLee Wright

    Michelle, J, i love this discussion, and although i am jumping in more than a year late, I can agree wholeheartedly that “Being competent in providing safe practice and having clear boundaries in scope of practice is not contingent on book learning. An initial training is just a way of providing the jump off for continued studies.”

    I just finished a 200 then 300 in the italian school “Samadhi” in Florence, and i gotta say, its a lot of material. The school did a fantastic job of providing us with real information: anatomy, history, philosophy , communication, meditation, all the aspects of Yoga , from traditional to modern.

    Who can ingest this in just one or two or three years? Initially I took the training to be” registered” and i don’t mind that at all. The fact is yoga is a business now. I am willing to accept this.

    But more that that I now have a base of understanding that I will continue to use for years to deepen and enlarge my studies. Woud i have learned this, sought out all this, on my own? probably in a very slow and organic way. Unfortunately, slow and organic is not the way of the modern world.

    I came from the world of “Yoga just for the Gym”, just the asana’s please, , and the requirement to get the training has given me so much more than a certificate, but a real sense of what yoga is. And is not that the goal in the long run?

    I was fortunate to choose a school in which all involved are passionate about the discipline and also open to integrating other disciplines that relate, ie: the concepts of Ayurveda and other styles of meditation, etc. I have lived in Italy for 8 years, and the Europeans that I have met seem to approach yoga more in the traditional manner, closley related to India and the roots of the discipline.

    My compliments in opening this discussion. Years of teaching in the gym (asana’s as some strange mix of acrobatics and aerobics, basically) and seeing the escalation of the “cult of personality” in the USA,(and globally), it is important that find a way to encourage the world of teachers and practitioners to know yoga as the incredibly profound practice is and it can be.

    KLW

  • KatieLee Wright

    btw, been in yoga since the year 2000. so i’ve had enough experience to know that i know very little!

  • Better late than never, Katie, to join this discussion! Thanks for your thoughts on this. I don’t mean to imply that I think all teacher trainings are not good – I know of several quality trainings that have turned out great new, beginning teachers.

    But, the more I learn as I teach year after year, 200 hours is just introducing the aspiring teacher to the tip of the iceberg. Let’s say a great deal of Western Yoga taught today arose via the Krishnamarcharya lineage – and we can say this lineage goes back at least 200 years – from, most recently, Iyengar, Jois, Indra Devi, Mohan and Desikachar, back to to Krishnamacharya himself, then before him to his guru, Yogeshwara Ramamohana Brahmachari, who apparently knew thousands of yogasana. Even just trying to distill what this particularly rich yoga lineage has discovered in the past two centuries into a 200 hour course that will turn out a “good” yoga teacher seems, frankly, highly ambitious.

    No offense meant, but, honestly, 200 hours is a very short period of time – it’s not that much, really, when you consider how very much needs to be learned. If we look beyond the lineage above, Yoga goes back several thousand years. Pre-Patanjali. We can’t possibly learn all of it in this lifetime!

    Look at it this way – how comfortable or well-seasoned would anyone feel about a job after just five 40 hour weeks – 200 hours – of working at it, and being trained to do it? Even if you loved the job more than anything you had ever done before, even if you were really good at it, and worked hard every day, and were even kind of a wunderkind at it, you still would not have the same experience and ability as someone who had devoted years, or perhaps decades, of their life to mastering this same job.

    Doing the practice yourself every day – struggling with it and figuring things out for yourself, meditating, doing the work consistently, for many, many years, is one vital key to being a good student – and even more so to being a good teacher. Sure, being adept at asana helps, but I think some struggle – and figuring out how to resolve those struggles through your own experience – true daily sadhana – is what eventually makes a good student become a good teacher.

  • KatieLee Wright

    Michelle, Elegantly said, i can only agree with you! these relativly quick trainings haves giving me the tools for a long winding voyage: the back pack, the donkey, the tools, some maps. but the horizon is out there, so off I go. Yoga is experiencing the voyage, not the preparation..

  • I just wrote about some of this on my own blog.
    http://dangerousharvests.blogspot.com/2011/11/yoga-standards.html

    But I’d like to add a few thoughts. First off, too many American yoga students obsess about anatomy, physical alignment, and of course, the physical benefits of asana (one limb of the eight limb path). I’m almost finished with 200 hr training, after having practiced yoga a good 12 years or so. I still feel like a beginner in many ways, but given that I have also practiced Zen for a decade, I’m quite grounded in meditation, and studying the spiritual and ethical teachings. And I see this as the main focus, something missed or dismissed by many yoga teachers, and something that feels added on when it comes to the “standard” YA requirements of 200 hr teacher training programs. Furthermore, while I readily admit that anatomy is a weakness, the attention and awareness I have developed over the years tend to make up for that. If someone is physically struggling in a class, or obviously putting themselves at risk physically, I’ll probably see it and be able to try and address it.

    The way I see it, we’re setting up a situation where knowledge is being privileged over wisdom and spiritual development. Wanting accountability in this way is really no better than wanting accountability from K-12 teachers using standardized test scores and curriculum. It’s all about knowledge and externals, and little or nothing about who people are, how they interact with their students, and whether or not they are able to demonstrate any wisdom.

    I’m not completely against standards, but it really needs to come from a deeper place then where we currently are coming from.

  • Standards that come from a deeper place. I second that.

  • michelle

    Great blog post, Nathan. You said it best:

    “…for the vast majority [of yoga teachers], nothing beats experience and practice. ”

    I was one of those yoga newbies 15 years ago, fired up by the practice and feeling a strong desire to teach. Luckily, a wise woman said to me, “Just practice regularly for a few years – develop a daily practice and see where it takes you. Then think about teaching.”

    I’m really glad I took her advice. It took me over 8 years to become a yoga teacher – before I really began to teach.

    If I could advise the budding yoga teacher, I would say this:

    First, just practice. For a long time. Find the practice style that resonates with you – whether it’s Ashtanga or Sivananda or Iyengar or Kripalu – and just do it. Every day. There’s a Sutra that speaks to this: “Practice becomes firmly grounded when done uninterruptedly and with reverence for a long time.” (1.14) A regular, diligent practice ultimately will teach you as much, perhaps more, than any training program.

    Second, once you find the practice that resonates with you, find a good teacher who has been teaching for a long time, and practicing for a longer time, and study regularly with them. This may mean having to travel, and paying a lot of money at workshops, to study with this person. You’ll know him or her when you find her. (If you are really blessed, they live nearby – rare! – hence the importance of a daily self practice, your first and best teacher).

    Third, at first, practice teaching to friends and family, or offer community classes. Treat it as Seva – selfless, devotional service. Consider these classes an apprenticeship. Teach in schools. Teach in homeless shelters. Teach in jails. Teach where there is no yoga.* For at least a year. Share what you have learned with honesty and compassion with those who don’t have the opportunity to pay for classes, and you will learn so much about teaching yoga. (*These environments are more demanding, in some ways – and conversely more forgiving – than the pre-selected environment of the local yoga studio, so they are great places to put your teaching skills to work.)

    Fourth – keep it simple. Be yourself. Teach what you know, don’t pretend you know more than you do, and have fun when you teach. And continue to study for the rest of your life, even after you have gotten “certified”. There’s thousands of years of yoga learning to catch up on. Enjoy the process!

    Fifth, you will lose more students than you gain. As it takes years to develop as a practitioner, it will take years to grow a body of students that look to you as their teacher. That is just a fact. Accept it and don’t take it personally. When you have a student that enjoys the practice you teach, and likes and respects you as a teacher, it is always a blessing.

    Lastly, because of #5, teach yoga for the joy of it, and not because you want to make money, or get a following of students. Most yoga teachers need to have a day job. Most yoga teachers do not make big bucks. This is a fact. Yoga students should not be looked at as dollar signs walking into the room. This pissed me off when one of my teachers said it to me – but it was a great lesson. Students are human beings and the teacher is there to serve and help them, not the other way around.

    Teaching yoga is a huge responsibility, and not easily learned in 200 hours – rather, it’s more like 10,000 hours. ;)

  • Amen.

  • I think my path actually includes all the steps you mention Michelle. It’s funny how taking your time, but being diligent and committed allows things to unfold.

  • michelle

    Absolutely!

  • KatieLee Wright

    well said Michelle, thanks for taking the
    time to expand your thoughts.

  • Great post. Let the truth be told. These are some of the reasons I never registered with Yoga Alliance…pointless!

  • Hillarie Ralston

    I am currently in a registered YA teacher training program in Maui and appreciate this post!!! I did my best to search out the best training program and feel like the YA website let me down. The program I am enrolled in is far from helping me become a competent yoga teacher and leaving me with even more questions than I started with.

  • In some ways, it’s really a blessing to have more questions. Deep practice always rides on questions. In fact, it would be much more troubling if you didn’t have many questions.

    This certainly doesn’t mean the program you are in is great or anything. And maybe some of the questions you have are ones that should have some resolution in a training program.

  • Meow

    Yes! I want to take TT, but there is no way I would ever consider going to one of my local studios to do so. There is one main yoga studio here and the quality of their classes is abyssmal. I’ve been complimented again and again on my beautiful practice since I’ve moved down here from NYC. I am so thankful for my teachers (actually, J, you were one of my first “real” yoga teachers at Go Yoga) who taught me proper alignment and finding a beautiful connection with the earth. My teachers didn’t take the time to do this bc I was some 95#, preternaturally flexible, destined to be a yogi, teacher’s pet type. They did this bc they respected their lineage and were well-trained, bc they straight-up loved yoga and teaching. I bet they didn’t even know my name, but they knew when I needed a block in extended side angle or to corrrect my crazy hyperextending elbows in downdog. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Yoga teachers are fucking magical!

  • Meow

    One more thing: I can do all this crazy shit w. my body bc somebody cared enough to teach me how to do it. Somebody was good enough at their job to get my klutzy ass into headstand in crowded NYC class with 50 other students, y’know? My “beautiful practice” is a tribute to every single yoga teacher who has ever taught me.

  • KatieLee Wright

    You are fortunate to fine those who cared, and it would be even better to take the beautiful practice and go deeper into the whole non physical concept of yoga!

  • Scott

    Before Yoga Alliance, there were no standards at all. Fly-by-night programs offering certificates with one weekend or less of training were common. When it was formed, the yoga teachers and leaders of the yoga community who cared about this issue put together some very felexible and MINIMAL guidelines for Yoga Teacher Training for beginning yoga teachers. This was a vast improvement over what existed before. It was never meant to be an inclusive best-practices stamp of quality on yoga teacher training. Holding it to that standard is just setting up a straw-man to bash. In addition, when YA came under criticism because of its lack of responsiveness to the concerns of the yoga community, they responded rather well. They just held a yoga leadership conference that was designed to begin addressing some of these concerns. They have also been working with the International Association of Yoga Therapists in the ongoing efforts to define competencies and establish standards for Yoga Therapists. If you genuinely are concerned about stards for Yoga Teacher Training, I suggest you get involved with both of these organizations and start working toward a better future for Yoga.

  • I agree that in the beginning, YA’s intentions seemed positive. In fact, I can even agree that a desire for standards has some merit. However, YA is now being held up as a “best practices stamp” by many in the broader yoga community, regardless of the org’s original intention. In addition, like many commenters here, I’m not sure what it is that teachers are getting when they pay their annual fees – other than to be “registered” and added to some lists.

    I will say, though, that I have really mixed feelings at best about standards. I don’t hold the view that developing any set of standards, even well thought out and with some depth, will necessarily create “a better future for yoga.” Maybe it will limit the amount of quick money schemes going on out there, but what will happen to how we view spiritual development, as well as teacher development, in the process?

    Something about the whole project seems off to me – like trying to put an analytical, concrete data driven box around the activities of a 5000 year old spiritual tradition. We’ve had similar debates in the North American Zen community, where some folks want to make it mandatory, for example, for anyone training to become a teacher to spend 6 months practicing in a monastic community. This, regardless of whether the person in question wants to lead a lay community or not. In my view, it’s just an arbitrary hoop to leap through which doesn’t, in and of itself, necessarily “prove” anything other than that the person can handle monastic life for 6 months.

    The same feels true of many of the hoops I have gone through during my teacher training. A lot of it has been helpful to my practice, and to considering how to teach, but without the years of practice and work with specific mentors under my belt, I don’t know how much of what I have learned would have sunk in at all. Furthermore, just because someone has a deep practice doesn’t necessarily mean they can teacher. Even a short time hanging around in academia and you’ll recognize that some of the professors might be brilliant, but they have the social skills of rocks.

  • Scott

    I don’t think it is legitimate to criticize an organization because others misrepresent the credential. That aside, YA has now formed a 501c6 organization that can and will be doing lobbying. This was in direct response to those who asked for change in the way YA was responding to the issue of state regulation of Yoga. So, that is a major benefit yoga teachers are receiving. YA came to Texas when we were in conflict with the state for trying to regulate us. They helped support our fight. For many years, YA was somewhat moribund, but with new leadership, they have come alive. I expect to see a lot of positive work come out of YA in the next few years.

  • Respectfully, I think your defense of the YA is naive. Brian Castellani breaks it down better than I could:

    “The regulation issues that occurred in New York, Virginia (Yoga Alliance’s own state of residence), Texas, Louisiana and Washington set the tone for all Yoga Alliance criticism’s and critiques.

    They accept no blame. They apologize for things that are small in relation to what they are really responsible for, so standing from where I have been, they get exactly what they deserve.

    The whole reason that this article was written is not from what Yoga Alliance has done, per say, but rather what they did not do, through omitting facts, omitting the actual truth of how events transpired, and not accepting responsibility.

    In 2008 Yoga Alliance sent President Mark Davis to a national Government Educational Conference, where Mark Davis “educated” the members of that conference and later, successfully persuaded Virginia to adopt the Yoga Alliance 200 hours as a benchmark of yoga education.

    During the times that Yoga Regulation was occurring between 2009 – 2011, Yoga Alliance specifically and quite strategically did not involve themselves in any local state yoga regulation issues, because they gambled that yoga teachers would accept the taxation on yoga as a vocation.

    Yoga Alliance expected that since individual states were beginning to instigate “vocational” taxes on yoga teachers, that Yoga Alliance would benefit by the “YA 200 hours as a benchmark of yoga education.”

    Yoga Alliance gambled incorrectly and an outpouring of upset yoga teachers pulled their memberships, and they quickly changed their tune.

    What is not mentioned in the above article, is that Yoga Alliance has changed only under the yoga public’s pressure, and now have formed an airtight micro-managed 501c6 Trade Organization, because they couldn’t accomplish anything as an unaccountable 501c3.

    You can defend Yoga Alliance all you want. It doesn’t change the fact that they knew ahead of time that states were going to begin taxing yoga teachers as a “vocation,” and that they knowingly “omitted” information. Omission is another word for profiting from others misfortune.

    While New York, Virginia and Texas were paying lofty lawyer fees and state lobbyists, do you know what Yoga Alliance was doing?

    Nothing to help yoga teachers and everything to help themselves. In 2010, while yoga teachers in New York and Virginia where paying out of pocket for lawyers and lobbyists – fighting for the right to teach yoga to students – untaxed…. Stoic Yoga Alliance paid $336,325.00 to two different corporate blog-farming businesses to increase their online presence.

    They never responded to emails, never responded to phone calls, and fired all of their staff except Jeanine Frest and officially hired the master manipulator John Matthews as there micro-managing ultra meditating, non-yoga practicing, Yoga Alliance president.

    Look at the facts:

    TRUE: Yoga Alliance successfully trademarked RYS, RYT, ERYT, Yoga Alliance, YAPlus while they claimed to only suggest standard for yoga.

    FALSE : Yoga Alliance claims they didn’t know about the Yoga Regulation happening in the United States during the years of 2008, 2009, 2010.

    FACT: In 2009 Yoga Alliance worked with Individual State governments to “Educate” the members of the Education Conference and later, successfully persuaded “some states” to adopt the Yoga Alliance 200 hours as a benchmark of yoga education (thereby hoping to create a monopoly on RYT teaching methods and bulldoze membership).

    So where is the solution? Where is the truthfulness?

    If you ask me, yoga teachers should take out a class action suit against them for having yoga teachers follow their ridiculous “bare-minimum” requirements that amount to nothing, charging money for fifteen years, not having a legally binding contract and then having the Yoga Alliance board grossly abusing the trust of not only their members, but also the employees they fired and also the entire yoga industry.

    I think the board that serves Yoga Alliance should all step down from their positions from the shame of selling out the yoga teachers they claim to set standards for.

    I also want to make it clear, that by my research, the board and specifically John Matthews are the ones responsible for the regulation mess.

    Whoever buys their cardboard certifications and opt’s to buy into the YAPlus trade organization, perpetuate misnomers and biased commercialism.”

  • Scott

    And your criticisms are informed by a harshness that allows for no shades of grey. Who is doing the distortion? I’d say a fair amount of that falls in your lap. You want to continuie to criticize them for faults they have already responded to while admitting no possibility that the process of change they are going through could yield positive results. That kind of mindset doesn’t exactly allow for an objective examination of the issues.

  • Scott, what changes have been made that suggest to you an entirely different direction? Everything mentioned above is really new – within the last few years – so it’s not like J. is dragging up ancient history here.

    As an aside, I just spent the last decade in the middle of a “professionalization” push in adult basic education here in Minnesota. It’s been a top down, standards based assault on teachers, and with next to no support for things like developing healthy teachers unions, or raising the bar for teacher pay, benefits and the rest. Frankly, the more I learn about this, the more it reminds me of that situation – and I want absolutely nothing to do with something like that again.

  • Scott

    Nathan,

    When New York tried to regulate Yoga, YA was so unresponsive and even resistant to the needs of the yoga teacher trainers that hey had to fight YA as well as the state. At that time, many within YA thought that state regulation was positive for yoga. That attitude has totsally changed. By the time they tried to regulate us like truck drivers down here in Texas, YA was totally bedind our efforts to be free of that kind of regulation. I also see the leadership conference as a huge step in the right direction. The big problem with YA until about two years ago, was that they were totally unresponsive to the Yoga community. That at least has changed. I don’t argue with the idea that tyhe RYT and RYS has little value, but I would argue with the idea that it has none. I think having minimal guidelines in place did help the field advance and having the additional levels of 500-hr and experienced yoga teachers is also a step in the right direction. I believe there is room for entry level yoga teachers. Their scope of practice should be limited to their area and degree of expertise and it might be a good idea that such teachers should continue to receive supervision and training as they mature as teachers. These are practical, positive solutions to some of the criticisms raised. Just saying that YA is shit and needs to be killed isn’t very helpful.

  • Hi! I came upon this post from facebook. I completely agree that there needs to be a conversation about YA and what they actually do for the community. I first became a yoga teacher back in 2003 through an old school style year long apprenticeship. This was not so long ago but before every studio, gym, spa, and your best friend’s neighbor had a yoga teacher training program. I did my second training in 2004 in Kundalini Yoga through the Kundalini Research Institute in NM. The first two I was teaching I would pay my yearly dues to YA but after a while I started wondering what I was paying for. What was I paying for? The ability to use RYT on my business card. None of the studios, gyms, spas or clients I worked with seemed to care. They just wanted to see my certificates. I continue to practice, study, and teach yoga but have not been a member of YA since 04 or 05. I don’t miss it and don’t see why it exists. Thanks for this post!

  • Remy G

    I couldn’t agree more! If nothing else but for the protection of starry-eyed yoga teacher hopefuls who deserve to know their training tuition is going towards a legitimate program.

  • Exactly my point. Thank you for writing this article. I’ve been drumming the same drum for ages. Wanna see – you can check my blog at http://2b2gether.blogspot.com/ and scroll through the postings. You don’t have to get too far to find out what i think about this issue? I’ve also been trying to educate the local public. I have a monthly column called “Yoga for Life” in the local paper and for over a year now have, in one way or another, been saying the same thing. What’s amazing to me is that someone with less than a year of personal practice, can go to a yoga teacher training, and emerge a few months later “qualified” to teach yoga. WTF? I mean, it’s taken me more than 10 years and MASSIVE amount of time reading, studying, practicing, stewing, trying, trying again….at this thing called yoga and i am still feeling like an idiot. I teach. I teach a lot and i have the opportunity to work with varieties of people, but boy, i still feel like an idiot. Yet, new born yoga teachers go around putting up workshops, teaching out of their living rooms, or advertising themselves as worthy of someone’s time and money!!! And the Yoga Alliance, collecting dues and doing what about what???? Anyhow…I can keep going. But no need. I know. However, if you ever need any help with anything on that subject – call me. You’ve got a friend :) )

  • TM

    Wait… aside from these issues about YA, can someone explain to me why all are assuming that yoga teachers shouldn’t be taxed??? Seems like yoga teachers should contribute their fair share to the social safety net, and to not do so would be hypocritical to say the least. Although I’m not a teacher so there may be an obvious rationale for this view point…

  • Yoga teachers are independent contractors who receive no benefits form their employers. They pay state, federal and self-employment taxes on their income. Yoga centers also pay state, federal and often property taxes. The yoga industry is already taxed as much as any other. What Brian was referring to was an attempt to regulate yoga teacher training programs that was not about providing better oversight and more quality yoga teacher training but rather an attempt to raise revenue to beleaguered state budgets.

    Honestly, had NY been smart about it and just instituted a business license for yoga centers that simply involved some paperwork and a nominal fee (like they do for hair salons) than I probably would of just payed it and chalked it up to “the cost of doing business.” However, instead, they sought to place unreasonable demands that would have put most smaller centers out of business

    Yoga teachers are contributing to the social safety net just like everyone else (except maybe for that upper 1%.)

  • Club Silencio

    A couple people have already mentioned the fact that teacher trainings are frequently used as a money-making operation for yoga studios, but what some people may not realize is that for many studios TTs are not just a way to raise extra revenue, but are often their primary source of income and the main thing keeping them financially solvent. 10 people enrolled in a $2500 training will bring in a lot more money much more quickly than the casual student paying ~$15 a class a couple times a week. For most studios, drop-in students and memberships can’t even begin to cover the cost of paying teachers and other overhead expenses, making the TT program an indispensable facet of their business model (I know of very few studios in my area that can afford not to offer them on a regular basis, and I live in a major city). Therefore, as much as their owners might deny it, most studios would probably suffer extreme financial hardship and would likely have to close if the standards for “certification” were increased or if the process of becoming a teacher had more oversight or otherwise became more difficult. Studios have an incentive to keep standards low or nonexistent and to rubber-stamp anyone who pays the training fee because it is quite literally paying to keep the lights on. Does this imply that the market for yoga studios is oversaturated since they cannot make money on class attendance alone? Would increased standards for teacher trainings stifle demand and actually lead to an improvement in teacher quality, or simply result in new “certifying” organizations and a market for less-stringent accreditation programs? How many students and employers actually care about the training that their yoga teachers receive (I know the gyms I work for certainly don’t as long as attendance numbers are up)? How can the yoga community better serve the needs of students who want to pursue a more in-depth study of the practice but may not ever want to teach (because in my experience it is these students that usually comprise the bulk of any teacher training program, and what are there other options when you think about it)? It seems to me that the issues surrounding teacher training in this country go much deeper than the problems with the Yoga Alliance.

  • Club Silencio

    *their–sorry, I had to amend that or it would eat away at me forever :)

  • You are right to point out that yoga teacher training is a vital part of most yoga centers business. However, yoga centers are already setting their own subjective standards and earning the reputations that they enjoy. The question is whether the YA is false advertising (or even fraudulent) in that implies some sort of objective standard when there is none.

    I don’t know that everyone agrees that there should be a standardization of training programs. There is some question as to whether such a thing is even possible given the many different traditions. 200her certification in “power-vinyasa flow” is a very different thing then 200hr certification in Kundalini. How are these totally different systems going to abide by the same curriculum’s?

    If the YA stuck to its original intent, which was to provide resources and encourage better studies, than it might serve a useful purpose for the greater yoga community. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

    Regardless, I don’t think that if there were an effort to increase standards in some circles that it would stifle demand. Yoga centers will continue doing what they are doing all the same. Were a new system of accreditation developed, yoga centers would adapt to those new conditions or remain independent of them. Either way, there is no shortage of people interested in practicing yoga.

  • David D

    This is a good discussion to be having. I’m not that familiar with YA, but I’d offer the following hard-won perspectives on organizations and regulation.

    First, once created, any organization or entity obtains certain “life like” characteristics. Namely, it becomes concerned primarily with its own health and growth as a *primary* concern. Other concerns, to the extent that they are addressed at all, are entirely secondary. In this instance, it is entirely predictable that YA would favor regulation, if they thought it would favor them as an entity. Unless the members stand up and threaten the continued existence of the organization, the members concerns related to regulation would be irrelevant.

    Second, the original intent in creating an entity has little to do with its future operation. That is, regardless of the reason for creating YA, it will continue to evolve and may end up supporting something contrary to its orignal intent. This is particularly problematic with regulatory bodies and certifying agencies.

    Third, the people involved in establishing an organization are different from those attracted to it once it’s established. Of course, this is both good and bad. A mature organization has different needs than a start up, but the people attracted to a mature organization are not necessarily beholden to its original intent. Unfortunately, if the organization has sanctioning power (as opposed to a manufacturing company), then the people that will be attracted to it will be the people you *don’t* want in charge.

    Fourth,every entity will be mired in politics, both large and small. People + power of any kind = rampant politics. It’s built into the system and can’t be avoided.

    Fifth, the power to do something good implies the power to do something evil. In the context of yoga regulation, the power to determine who or what is proper “yoga,” means that the power can be abused to elevate political favorites or hurt the politically less favored. It’s not hard to imagine that a regulating or certifying body could exclude hot yoga as being dangerous; it’s also not hard to imagine that hot-yoga happy regulating or certifying body could be very hard on other yoga forms. (This is merely an example, not a comment on hot yoga or Bikram.) Generally, once you give up the power to make such decisions, then they will be made by people attracted to the power and with an agenda. If you are going to give power to an entity, make sure the power given is commensurate to the problem being solved. Whatever power you give up, may be used against you or in a way you don’t approve of in the near future.

    If this sounds pessimistic, I apologize. It’s not meant to be. But I think many people (to be clear, I’m not thinking of you or anyone in particular) just assume that “regulation” or “oversight” will inherently be a good thing and can solve all manner of perceived ills. That is not so. Many problems cannot and will not be solved by regulations or certifying bodies, and many problems that can be solved are not sufficient to warrant the potential downsides of creating regulations or certifying bodies (unintended consequences an all that).

    Thanks for taking the time to bring up real issues with YA. These are very important issues in our little community and we need to be very sensitive to them.

  • Eve

    Yes, it’s a mess.
    I’ve had “certified teachers” show up in my classes who have no connection to their feet, hang in their ligaments when they stretch, and “aren’t so good” with Sanskrit names.
    I fondly remember a student who, at the end of her first yoga class, asked: “where do I go to get teacher training?”
    If you’d taken your first piano lesson and loved it, I don’t think you’d be asking where you could go to learn how to teach other people to play.
    Perhaps part of the answer is for each form to be clear in what they ask for in teacher trainees, how long their training program is, what their standards are, and how certification is awarded. Is there an assessment? Does the student have to demonstrate his or her teaching skills to a group of training teachers that are not their own training teachers? How much are they required to do in continuing education to keep their certification valid?
    Second part of the task is for each form to make that information easily available to anyone who is interested in taking either classes or teacher training.
    It would be nice if all the media love showered on yoga also emphasized the importance of asking about how the teacher is certified and exactly what their certification means.

  • Scott

    When I was taking classes in one of the martial arts many years ago, they used a colored belt system to indicate levels of mastery. It wasn’t until they reached the black belt that those practicing were actually considered students. Until then, we were considered aspirants. Anyway, part of what the aspirants were required to do before earning the black belt was to show that they could teach basics of the practice to aspirants at lower levels. Until the point they earned the black belt, they never taught outside the direct supervision of their own teacher. Perhaps that model has some answers for some of these many questions we all have about yoga teacher training.

  • I appreciate this article so much. I’ve recently become a studio owner after running out of places to teach that would accomodate more direct instruction per student (instead of a gym atmosphere). I am the first to admit that I have much to learn, even though I am a certified yoga instructor. There is so much about yoga to understand and study, it is an ongoing process. I consider myself a student of yoga first, an instructor second. Recently, a few studios have opened in my area where the owners haven’t taught prior to opening. They were certified and given credentials, then they opened up studios before they ever entered the classroom as a teacher. I find this very dangerous. Their studios teach classes in hot yoga, yin yang, ashtanga and other very advanced forms. Classes focus on what I would consider “tricks” doing poses such as Crow, Peacock, and other very advanced inversions or arm balances. Most of the students in the classes are beginner, but are attracted to the gymnastic style poses. I, as well as other more experienced practioners, have some grave concerns about the -safety and well-being of the students. I live in a community where yoga is not well-received (the Southern Bible-belt), so I feel it critical that I serve the students as a guide and offer the safest environment for them. To gain legitimacy in the world where I live, I feel I must prove yoga’s benefits, not support the notion that it’s quackery and hippy-dippy snake oil.

  • Well, I have been putting off renewing my YA registration for about 4 months now. I’ve asked friends and colleagues the question “why should I re-register with YA?” and nobody seems to be able to give me a satisfactory answer, save for maybe it makes it easier when I register as a 500-hr teacher. Now I have several good reasons not to. Including that I’m not wasting my hard-earned dollars on another year with YA. I think I’ll spend that $55 on a workshop. Thanks, J.

  • This has also been a concern/discussion for me in recent years. There were two areas where YA seemed to fall of the rails for me. The first is what you discuss here — Quality Assurance. The second is actually Due Process if someone has a complaint about a teacher or school.

    I stopped affiliating with YA in 2005/6, I think. I just didn’t see it giving me any value. When I moved to NZ, I thought about registering my teacher training, but the fact is — it just seemed like a needless expense. My teacher training process well exceeds their standards, anyway, and the RYT/RYS branding isn’t that important in my opinion.

    The real proof of a quality teacher training or a quality teacher is in the pudding — not the branding. Are they confident and capable in a classroom setting? Are they deeply curious about yoga and the study and practice of yoga? Are they open about their experience, their education, and where their abilities and vulnerabilities (as a teacher) are? Are they professional and courteous?

    I don’t need a brand to tell me I’m OK as a teacher or a person who trains teachers. And, neither do my students. If they do, my training isn’t right for them.

  • I know very well that it is extremely difficult to come up with worthwhile article subjects all the time. So I just want to say: well done! Regards,

  • Hi J…

    I just wanted to thank you for your willingness to discuss the ‘elephant in the room.’ Your points and the comments shared by your readers have been very thought provoking and have inspired me to action, both on a personal and industry-wide scale. This is a topic that has been a thorn in my side for many years. I’ve refused to pay into an organization/pyramid scheme that is, as you said, just a rubber stamp.

    There is much I could say on this topic, but more than anything I wanted to offer my support to you in your efforts. I’m interested in being more involved with this campaign, and would appreciate being kept in the loop of any new developments.

    Emily Seymour
    Yoga Revolutionary

  • Sunshine Daydream

    Finally! I have been saying the same thing since I went through a 200 level training 12 years ago. That is the point of registering that I have 200 or 500 hours of experience? For me, who has spent over 25 years developing the skills necessary to first be a yoga, and THEN, to teach what I have learned, it has taken well over 10,000 hours to get to this point. And then another 7-8,000 hours of actual class-room time IN FRONT of students. Those first 500 hours learning? Pointless. 200 hours is like 6 months of 3 hours a week practice, 500, just a year. And that is from point zero. Would a violinist even be able to get into an orchestra, let alone be qualified to teach their craft after a year’s worth of practice!???
    Its meaningless as a qualification if someone with 10,000 hours and 25 years experience is lumped with someone with 500 hours and one year. Yoga across our country is a commercial endeavor. People get into it to get a quick and easy job (so to speak). And what is a bigger money maker than promising to qualify people to “do what they love”. Sign up for ‘teacher training’, and call yourself a teacher. When everyone is an expert, the truth will never be profound.

  • Kim

    I called the Yoga Alliance last week. I have been teaching yoga for 15 years, 8-15 classes a week. My first teacher training was well over 200 hours, but well before the YA was a presence, so it was not registered. The person I spoke to at YA said basically I am S.O.L, even though I have thousands more hours of training and experience. I tried reasoning with the human being in a yogic way, suggesting an exam or a video audition or some way to address each individual’s situation (as is yoga)…but they seem happy to “keep it simple” and just take the money of people who came of yoga age after the YA spread its wings. I was told they “used to grandfather in people, but had to stop that at some point and draw the line” for their new incarnation.

  • KatieLee Wright

    Kim, I’m sympathetic with your complaint. I also took many trainings, some long, some short, much variation, before the YA existed. I tried to get grandfathered in: no go. The problem? I taught in Gyms, not studios. I taught privately, in small groups, medium groups, etc, but nothing “certifiable”. I had not studied under one person, I had not studied with someone “registered”, even though she had been in the practice for years and was, is excellent. I see all this as it has evolved: it all reminds me of the days of being an architect when , licensed, registered, practicing, I had to explain that the “AIA” did not have any value other than a dues gathering organization, not proof I was an architect.

    In the world of Yoga, i took a relaxed approach, as I found it petty and not worth arguing about: I deepened my practice with some excellent training that was fortunately certifiable, and now i don’t need to waste my energy on “is it right or is it wrong”. Just my approach, obviously it doesn’t work for everyone.

    I see all this as the dark side of the success of the rebirth of Yoga in the USA. Yin / Yang. Yeah, there is a new energy that has taken flight. Boo, it is a business, and all the grunge that goes along with at. It manifests a lot of UN-enlightenment. So hence we have the opportunity keep our center and keep practicing! But this whole issue is worth discussing and bringing into the light.

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  • Laura

    Not to mention how the yoga alliance appropriates the teachings originating in India 5,000 yesrs ago, whereas the yoga alliance has bren around for like what, 15? And theyvare trying to hold the yoga teaching standards, even for schools in India? The yoga school I went to in India refuses to have anything to do with the yoga alliance, after all, they have bren teaching yoga for dcdes before the existance of the company, but many schools are giving in so that they can attract more westerners.

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