Saturday, August 25, 2012

Why I am not registered with the Yoga Alliance

Ok, so I have mixed feelings about the Yoga Alliance in general but I don't really want to get into that debate here. So please don't take this post to be a structured or informed discussion on the YA - it's just my personal perspective.

So yes, although I am a yoga teacher, I am not registered with the Yoga Alliance. I used to maintain my registration, but recently I let it expire and decided not to renew it or update my membership with my 500hour certification.

Most of my reasons for this are practical: I don't run any courses or offer any certificates, I'm not employed by a yoga studio or anyone else who requires or prefers their teachers to be registered, and since I don't teach yoga for money (I collect donations through my classes, and those go to charity), I don't need professional insurance. Even if I did, I don't think that YA registration is a requirement to teach yoga or be insured for it - certainly not where I live!

So from a practical perspective, I don't see the point. Why should I pay the YA $80 per year so that I can have a few letters next to my name? What do I get out of it?

The YA, on their website say that I should register to "enhance my credibility" as a yoga teacher, since their "designations are the premier forms of recognition for Yoga teachers".  According to their criteria posted online, if I were to register, I could call myself an "E-RYT 200, RYT 500", which sounds pretty impressive and gives me a momentary ego-boost, but that's really about it. Oh, except they will send me a graphic image that I can use on my marketing materials. Ooooooh.

What bothers me is that there's no method of really verifying those certifications and what they mean. So while I support the notion of having set standards for yoga teacher training, what good is a standard if it's not upheld?  Yes, I have to scan and upload my YTT certificates, but nobody verifies the quality of those teachings or the standard of my knowledge. I would also have to log my continuing education hours, which are also unverified, and finally, my teaching hours, which, again, nobody has to verify. So I could easily pretend that I have tons of continuing education and thousands on teaching hours, even if this weren't true. Now I know we expect all yogis to be honest, but let's be honest - not everybody is!

This strikes me as a pretty big problem for something that claims to be the international industry standard in yoga teaching.  Of course, as yoga becomes more widespread, I suspect we will see more state or country-based regulation of yoga teachers, as in some countries already, which has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. But in the meantime, I don't think I'll be re-registering with the YA anytime soon.

The only thing i can think of that would make me change my mind would be if I wanted to teach on courses or offer my own trainings, in which case I think itis only fair to give students the option of registering with the YA themselves. Of course, I might think differently if I were employed by a studio or trying to teach full-time - what do you readers think?

14 comments:

  1. I think it's great that you decided to go "off the grid" so to speak. I think education and standards are necessary, but I also think self-learning (i.e. studying all the books, dvds and websites you can find) can be just as valuable. I admit to being a bit irked that all my training doesn't add up to the 500 hour requirements (even though I've put in the time) simply because I haven't done the time in a registered program. But this is the way of it. And our students get to decide who they want for a teacher and frankly, they don't seem to know or care about YA or what the letters RYT mean. That said, I do believe people should be trained (and probably more that we are) as yoga teachers. We have the ability to do serious damage if we do not understand alignment, mobility, body structure, joint function, etc. Thanks for the conversation.

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    1. Hey Sara! I totally agree - as yoga teachers we need to take our responsibilities seriously, and good training is a huge part of that. As you say, yoga teachers should probably be trained more - I feel that way no matter how much training I take. I can imagine that it's frustrating that your trainings aren't recognized by the YA - but as you say, your students will gravitate to you for the quality of what you are teaching, not for who certified you.

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  2. Hello. I am the new president of Yoga Alliance -- been here for six weeks now -- and thought I should stop by to say hello and let you know that we are working to find new ways to help enhance the credibility of qualified yoga teachers. Stay tuned.

    I also need to correct one of your statements: We don't claim to be the "international industry standard in yoga teaching." YA's registry was intended to serve only the yoga community in the U.S. The fact that yoga teachers and schools all over the world have adopted the standard says volumes about the registry's success. But now we need to build on that success and provide additional value to the yoga community.

    Although we are focused on the yoga community in the U.S., nothing would make us happier than to be able to help teachers and school in other countries as well -- including East Timor! If by this time next year we can convince you that it's worth the $85 to renew your registration with us, I will have done my job!

    Richard Karpel
    President and CEO, Yoga Alliance
    Arlington, Va.
    rkarpel (at) yogaalliance.org

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    1. Hi Richard. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. Since I am not American, I can only provide the international perspective. Thanks for the correction in that regard. But I certainly look forward to seeing what is to come. Good luck with the new job!

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    2. I am a studio owner and have been running programs for a couple of years with going through the process of the YA by choice. After experiencing and working at other studios who had been approved, I decided that our standards were higher than the one the YA is claiming. We do not need to buy at "stamp" to run good programs that would provide the best knowledge to future teachers. I try to stay open to support yoga as a whole but I feel that the regulation shouldn't come from a self proclaimed organization. Unfortunately I know many YA approved studios with low standards. Will they then lose their stamps of approval? Will they have to re-apply for the new standards?

      Eventually we are all looking for one think, spreading the knowledge of yoga, and it shouldn't be by getting a stamp and paying a yearly due.

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  3. I think so many regulating agencies have imperfections. I let mine lapse also and have been contemplating renewing. It is about what makes us credible and I wish we did not have to depend on that so much. In my work with people I wan tot downplay that I am an expert and honor them as an expert of their lives and bodies, but as a teacher, I need to establish authority. It is a delicate balance!

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    1. Hi Jodi - it's so true - there is no "perfect" regulation, but un-regulation is often worse! I understand your point that being registered makes you seem credible to people you teach - unfortunately I just don't buy into that credibility myself. So it would be hypocritical of me to try and boost my credibility by 'branding' myself as an "RYT", when I don't really believe in that system... Whew! As you say, a delicate balance that each of us has to sort out for ourselves!

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    2. I am currently registered with the National Yoga Alliance, I have have my RYT-200 and have taught very little since my graduation and registration...I believe the problem is that too many schools are mass producing yoga teachers which in theory is great but the time needed for someone to receive the in depth instruction with alignment and movement takes much longer...I have continued my yoga practice personally and it has taken me 5 or 6 years to have the understanding I wish I would have had out of my training...I now have much more time to teach as my children are no longer small but I am unsure if I should get retrained all over again or come up with a yoga based program and teach outside of the YA...and can you still go to continuing education programs if you are no longer registered with the YA..?

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  4. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. I did my teacher training at a hot-trendy studio and now I am completely reconsidering this entire business based on some of the people I have come across along the way. Going in, I felt very passionate about teaching yoga - and I still do because I really do believe in it. However, the business of yoga and the salesy bullshit I have to hear on a daily basis is discouraging at its best. It's not allllll bad but if you're smart, it's not hard to read between the lines. Thank you for the awesome article.You sound like my kinda girl. I hope to find my own path as you have :)

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    1. Hi Anon, I can totally relate to what you're saying. This is something I think all yoga teachers struggle with, I think, the line between a passion and a business. I think the best thing we can do is just focus on being the best, safest, kindest teachers we possibly can - and find a teaching space that suits your philosophy. The great thing about the yoga boom is that there really is something out there for everyone. Keep us posted on your journey!

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  5. I am going to start my school and what upsets me is that the YA takes $200US for a teacher to register and $1000 for a 200RYT/ They are a non profit. I want to see their annual earnings report. What do they do with all of the money?

    They do nothing to represent anyone, they are a registry. Who are they, what are their qualifications, my school will provide all of the requirements they ask for and more. I think paying all of this money for a logo from an organization who does not police, they do not defend, in fact they do nothing is illegal.

    The problem is people buy into this fictitious way for this organization to make money and remember they are only a registry, they do not approve. So many studios put YA approved. That is wrong, the Yoga Alliance will take any schools money .... to become registered and any teachers money to become registered

    Any intellectual, knowledgeable, compassionate, ethical, moral individual who wants to train can and does not have to be bound by any Alliance. The YA checks nothing, they will not represent or field complaints...they just take money ENOUGH!!!!!!

    Teaching yoga to students should always have recognized standards for excellence in teaching. Are the management at the Yoga Alliance TEACHERS?

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  6. thank you guys alot, alot, alot, alot!!!
    instead of registrating i will make my mind up!!!
    thanxxxx for make thinking me twice!!!
    best from berlin from a still learning, but already very good educated teacher of dance yoga and bodywork...

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  7. Wow... I'm very happy to read this! I've been teaching for 4 years without a YA registration and after i moved suddenly everyone wants to know if i am a RYT... I don't know if that's all they want to see in my resume, but i have read and read and read and like BKS Iyengar said, i practice on myself... if i have a pain, discomfort or anything i will experiment on myself before i dare to try it on someone else. I respect the people that come to me, how do they measure that? It saddens me that they have done such a good marketing job that now i feel very excluded and can't teach in many places because i am not willing to pay their fees... I wonder... are they giving the best of the best to their students? or, are they keeping their students from good experiences just because of a stamp?

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  8. Is it required to be YA registered to own a small private practice if all I have is a certification? How difficult would this be in the future?

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