by Gina de la Chesnaye
(Please see updates below)
On Monday September 22nd, Yoga for New York met at Yoga Union to discuss a range of topics, most notably Yoga Alliance’s new listing requirements for studios that offer Teacher Training. Participating in the discussion, to the relief and delight of many, was Richard Karpel, the president and CEO of Yoga Alliance (YA).
Hired in 2012, Karpel opened by acknowledging that there had been plenty of dissatisfaction with Yoga Alliance’s performance over the years. There were three missing elements as he saw them: 1. No benefits and services offered to members 2. More rigor and credibility needed in its credentialing system 3. More transparency necessary vis a vis YA.
While most people thought that YA offered benefits and services, in fact, the organization does not have the legal charter to do so, explained Karpel. They must
change from operate as two entities, a 501c6 to a 501c3 (see update below), and when that occurs YA will be able to provide formal education, publish materials, offer member benefits such as discounts on products and services including liability and health insurance, work on building a community and lastly, have strong representation. Karpel added that “the yoga community needs an organization to speak for it with one voice, which YA will do.”
On the credentialing side, YA is looking to add more rigor and credibility. Credentialing is the umbrella term used to describe the processes through which organizations are assessed. The process began as a registry, which is not the same, and currently the registry is not designed to withstand rigor. There is no oversight for the credentialing system. Karpel indicated that this is a “major problem” and the organization is currently fixing its database and building a website to address it. “How do we make sure that the schools are actually doing what they say? How do we make sure they are keeping their standards? The website will allow us to have or provide the locus for the solutions we are looking for.”
He continued by explaining that YA will be asking for a syllabus from the schools which will be posted on the site along with the learning objectives. “We don’t always know what we are asking for and people don’t know what we are looking for. It’s usually an adventure. That’s why the syllabus will be helpful so that we can have oversight.”
YA intends to have social credentialing now which includes reviews and asking students to refer to the syllabus to see if it matches up with what the school markets. There will be three guiding principles:
1- No Anonymity “We know the students who go through the program. The schools will know. You tend to get more civility when people know they are accountable.”
2 – Objectivity Based on fact. “Did the school meet the learning objectives? Would you recommend this TT or school?”
3 – Feedback “We are also allowing the schools to program their own questions so they can get feedback from students, clients, etc. If you don’t have that awareness about what your customers or students are thinking it is difficult to know how you are doing.”
Karpel also addressed a major concern of the day – in requiring studios to post their syllabi it would be easy for competitors to simply copy and paste what has taken many studios and their Directors years to devise through decades of study.
Alison West noted that “some people have worked a very, very long time to create excellent Teacher Trainings and it will be quite easy for someone to take that and use it themselves. I feel very strongly that the amount of information you are asking for is the same as handing over the Teacher Training.”
“Initially we wanted schools to make that public. We won’t do that now. I’m not from the education world so sometimes I get it wrong, but my sense is that your intellectual property is the knowledge that allows you to teach that,” responded Karpel.
Another attendee asked for more information on the salient aspects of credentialing. “If you are a 200 hour program then we are asking you to lay out what number of hours is for which subject. 20 hours anatomy, 20 hours philosophy, etc,” said Karpel.
Alex Patriquin of YogaSampler wanted to know if YA is designing this to be a utility or service that also helped students discover and research TT.
“Yes, in addition to that, the site will be for every Teacher or TT to have their own Directory page. You will have a nice looking profile page to drive people to you. It’s simpler that the Yoga Community itself be as transparent as possible to its students,” said Karpel. He continued, “we will ultimately find a balance. When we are c3 [501c3] we serve the public, we are a charity organization and we don’t want to hide behind a vague scrim of words.”
In other news Monday, the new YFNY board was present: Alison West is Chair of the New Board for Yoga for New York. The other members include Lauri Nemetz of Westchester Yoga Teachers, Preston Pesek of Spacious Yoga, Bruce Wilcox, Managing Partner of Ishta Yoga and Alexis Fedor.
UPDATE: After this article was published, YD received notice from Yoga Alliance (from Richard Karpel himself, and a second notice from their public affairs department) mentioning some clarifications.
The message is as follows:
To Whom it May Concern:
Thank you for publishing this article.
There were a couple of mistakes in the article that I am hoping you
The mistaken material is set-off below by asterisks, and my
corrections follow. Feel free to call me to discuss.
***While most people thought that YA offered benefits and services, in
fact, the organization does not have the legal charter to do so,
explained Karpel. They must change from a 501c6 to a 501c3, and when
that occurs YA will be able to provide formal education, publish
materials, offer member benefits such as discounts on products and
services including liability and health insurance, work on building a
community and lastly, have strong representation.***
We do now have the legal charter to provide our members with benefits
and services, and we are not changing from a 501c6 to a 501c3. The
credentialing organization will remain a 501c3 public charity, as it
has always been, and our new trade and professional association will
operate as a 501c6. So we are essentially two separate legal entities
with a joint staff, an arrangement that is pretty standard in the
Our 501c6 status was approved by the IRS earlier this year, and we
have been providing our members with education, member benefits,
community and representation as a 501c6 for many months now.
***”Initially we wanted schools to make their (syllabus) public. We
won’t do that now.”***
Did I really say this? If I did, I misspoke!
We will still encourage schools to make their syllabus public, but
based on feedback we received from Registered Yoga Schools we have
decided to give them the option to present it only to the trainees who
will be required to evaluate their program. The syllabus that we are
requiring schools to register with us is a high-level summary outline
of their teacher-training program, and we think that over time our
RYSs will come to agree with us that it isn’t intellectual property
(like a lesson plan would be, for instance) and that they and the
entire yoga community will benefit if prospective trainees have access
to it in order to determine which RYS is best-suited to their
individual path in yoga.
President and CEO
Photo of Richard Karpel and Alison West, Chair of Yoga For New York.
This article was originally published on YogaCityNYC.
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Yahoo! thank you for publishing this.
Being a yoga teacher I appreciate seeing this. Having had rigorous trainings that had me going from 6am – 9pm for over a month learning, teaching, taking classes, meditating, learning anatomy and history, I want the standards to be more transparent for trainings. I have seen trainings pop up everywhere, and I love that people are so interested in it, but I also worry about the quality. I have been alarmed at some classes I have been to over the past couple years.
On another note…to have a clear voice for the community that provides benefits?!? Sounds great!
Our facility has yoga teachers that have been certified in one weekend( 4 days) it’s scary to me, I have 200 hours , these teachers never look at the class or make adjustments they move from one pose to the next with no explanation, they are in front of a class with back or side to the class and just proceed to call out the poses as they perform their own practice!
One of the studios I’d gone to, would perform “the yoga teacher workout” for half the class (please see http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/09/the-yoga-teacher-workout-hannah-siegle/ ), and the rest of the class adjust only (they talk about teaching to the high-middle in skill ?) the highest level practitioners in the so-called all- level class. And they were proud of this their signature teaching style … even trademarked it!
But I’m done with all that !
I’m not gleeful somebody’s trademarked style is going to get it handed to them by Yoga Alliance. They were an inspiration to my practice although one of a few. They have a chain mini-empire of studios, so if Yoga Alliance moderates the trend of chain-friendly yoga (which starts with cookie-cutter, fast-replicable, low-client-centered styles) it’s MORE than okay by me …
They’ve stepped in with the YogaGlo lunacy … so that’s promising ….
I did my teacher training. I payed my money to Yoga Alliance for acknowledgement only to find they want an annual fee. How much money is required to keep a name on a data base? My school has a record, without asking for more money, when I received other fancy pieces of paper throughout my life, they didn’t ask for annual fees, so what’s the deal?
There are two major holes that have bothered me about YA for some time that I hope they are planning on addressing.
1. Of the 20 required hours for anatomy and physiology, only FIVE are required in spending time applying anatomy and physiology directly to yoga. The rest of the hours can be used studying ‘energy’ systems like chakras and nadis. While these are important symbolic systems, they should be placed in a separate category altogether. They have nothing to do with actual anatomy, as they are metaphorical ideas.
2. YA needs to work with governing bodies of physical education programs, either nationally or state-by-state. The lack of accountability is disturbing. The requirements to perform massage, for example, are extremely rigorous. For yoga to truly be considered a therapeutic tool, and perhaps eventually have a bigger impact in national healthcare, yoga studios and programs need to work with actual doctors and therapists. Hopefully YA will recognize this at some point and design a much more comprehensive training program, as well as mandate continuing education, as they do in Spin and other forms of exercise.
Having just taken several years to get certified in another prominent yoga system, I see the wisdom of having the credentialing process taking a long time. It definitley weeded out those who lacked patience and perseverence. It also gave me a long time to learn and practice with “basic” asanas which other schools gloss over on the way to the flashier ones. The deeper wisdom is these “basic” asanas are not basic at all on a deeper level.
Hi- This is Katie from Yoga Alliance. I submitted these corrections by email, but since I see that they haven’t yet been addressed, I am posting them here in an attempt to clear up a couple of inaccuracies that were in the initial article.
In the second paragraph, you say that we need to change from a C6 to a C3. This is inaccurate and actually nearly the opposite of what we are doing. Yoga Alliance has been a 501c3 since its incorporation in 1999. The credentialing organization will remain a 501c3 public charity, as it has always been. In 2010 we formed the 501c6 organization which means that we do now have the legal charter to provide our members with benefits and services as a professional and trade association. We are not changing from a 501c6 to a 501c3. We are essentially two separate legal entities with a joint staff, an arrangement that is pretty standard in the nonprofit world.
Our 501c6 status was approved by the IRS earlier this year, and we have been providing our members with education, member benefits, community and representation as a 501c6 for many months now.
The second point of clarification is that while we are certainly listening to community input about publishing the syllabus on the new system, we are still encouraging schools to make their syllabus public. In response to feedback we received from Registered Yoga Schools we have decided to give them the option to present it only to the trainees who will be required to evaluate their program. The syllabus that we are requiring schools to register with us is a high-level summary outline of their teacher-training program, and we think that over time our RYSs will come to agree with us that it isn’t intellectual property (like a lesson plan would be, for instance) and that they and the entire yoga community will benefit if prospective trainees have access to it in order to determine which RYS is best-suited to their individual path in yoga.
Good luck Katie. Unfortunately in my community, unscrupulous teachers attended one of the TT’s at a local studio of a particular style several years ago and took all of their learning materials and used them for their own teacher training program. The good thing about the system they pilfered from is that it is more rigorous than the 200 hour method. This is why I have had such a low opinion about Yoga Alliance and the 200 hour process. I hope this kind of thievery comes to an end.
🙂 say what you will about its founder, but Anusara still lives on posthumously, for good reason …
YA seems dysfunctional looking. They won’t recognize Tony Sanchez, he’s unable to join. I got this message below:
FYI: Yoga Alliance
We tried to register Tony Sanchez with YA but he was not allowed to join because his certification, Ghosh’s College of Physical Education, Calcutta, 1980, is not a YA member.
Seriously, we are talking about one of the premiere yoga teachers on the planet today, and YA told him to take a hike? That shows me a lack of wisdom. I don’t think there’s any need to bother with YA. The regulations will come at the state level.
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