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Professional Affiliations – Options & Considerations – Yoga Alliance Alternatives – Other Registries, Certifications & Standards Proposals

Introduction

You Have Choices

The primary purpose of this page is to provide support for teachers and trainers who are exploring their options related to the subjects of recognition, certification and the specification and upholding of standards.

We’re trying to make the self-governance efforts in our field more transparent in an effort to highlight ways we can promote best practices and increase standards and accountability in yoga teaching and training.

Back in 2013, J. Brown suggested that the yoga teaching field could benefit by “a trade organization that promotes best practices by providing resources.” Founded in 2012, Yoga Teacher Central is just such an organization.

J. Brown, April 2013

As it stands, training programs are already only being held to the standards they set for themselves. Unfortunately, those standards are too often being tainted by the enabling emphasis on hours and the lucrativeness of yoga teacher training. A sensible way forward might be to have a trade organization that promotes best practices by providing resources, education and incentives for registrants to conduct themselves with greater honesty and integrity. Sounds awful rosy, I know, but it’s not that crazy. Maybe we can stop kidding ourselves about hours and identify other ways to encourage more personal accountability. – J. Brown  link

 


Your Options

In both my 200 and 300 hour trainings, and in a Level 1 Prenatal training, the course leaders expressed that they only register with Yoga Alliance for people doing online searches for programs to take. I’ll admit I liked taking part in programs that were YA-backed because it felt like a level of legitimacy and comfort to see they’ve got that stamp. However, being in the teaching field and paying for YA membership yearly, I now realize they offer me… nothing really? I’ve never gotten a client from being part of the YA community and none of my private clients have ever asked about my YA status, so I don’t plan to renew for the coming cycle. – Kala MacDonald  link, Yoga to Cope  link

Introduction

  1. Consider if you wish to perpetuate the false narrative that Yoga Alliance registration is related to teaching competency or legitimacy. In other words, every time an organization states that they or their teachers are “certified by,” “accredited with” or “approved by” Yoga Alliance, they are improperly stating Yoga Alliance’s role and propagating a myth.
  2. Be aware that you are free to register or not register with Yoga Alliance.
  3. If your objective in registering with Yoga Alliance has been to “legitimize” you or your organization, you can do so in other ways.

Verifying Your Legitimacy

If your objective in registering with Yoga Alliance has been to  prove the legitimacy of you or your organization, there are two primary ways to think about your choices: 1) what you can do on your own, and 2) the option to associate with third-party organizations.

  • You can “legitimize” yourself without a third-party organization simply by promoting your particular background and skills.
  • If you are a trainer, you can offer verification of your trainees through certification, registration or other recognition.
  • If there are third-party organizations that offer services you resonate with, you can choose to participate in their systems of recognition.

Alternatives to YA

Some options include:

  1. Adopt proposed standards: Minimum Knowledge Standards for Yoga Teachers and/or Heart of Yoga Teaching Standards.
  2. Participate in existing certification programs such as Iyengar, International Association of Yoga Therapists or OHYA Original Hot Yoga Association.
  3. Highlight your roots and education such as the Krishnamacharya lineage, Kripalu or Para Yoga-trained and so on.
  4. Create your own certification process. In other words, if you teach ABC Method, you can certify that your teachers are qualified to teach the ABC Method.
  5. Enroll in offerings by organizations such as those in the list below. If you know of more, please email us and we’ll add them.

 


List of Organizations

Here we provide an alphabetized list of organizations that offer yoga teacher or trainer recognition. (If you know of more, please email us.)

    1. The Association of Yoga Professionals (AYP)
    2. Black Yoga Teachers Alliance (BYTA)
    3. Christian Yoga Association
    4. International Association of Yoga Therapists
    5. National Association of Certified Yoga Teachers (NACYT)
    6. World Yoga Federation
    7. Yoga Alliance
    8. Yoga Alliance Professionals (previously Yoga Alliance UK)
    9. Yoga Association of Greater Detroit (YAGD)
    10. Yoga Australia
    11. Yoga Teacher Central
    12. Yoga Unify
The Association of Yoga Professionals

The AYP seeks to offer a higher standard and greater accountability among teachers of yoga, as well as to help connect students of yoga with those teachers most qualified to serve their needs. As a service-based, 501(c)(6) non-profit organization, The AYP is committed to operating in accordance with yogic principles.

The Association of Yoga Professionals (AYP)

Black Yoga Teachers Alliance

BYTA is a collective of yoga teachers who share the peace and power of yoga to inspire conscious living. BYTA supports the continuing educational and professional development of black yoga teachers.

Black Yoga Teachers Alliance (BYTA)

Christian Yoga Association

Membership is open to any level of Christ centered yoga practitioner, yoga teacher, yoga therapist, and any other practitioner who incorporates Christian yoga into their healthcare, therapy, holistic, wellness or research program. We are on a mission to bridge Christian practitioners on a global and local level to provide strong, supportive communities.

Christian Yoga Association

International Association of Yoga Therapists

IAYT supports research and education in yoga and serves as a professional organization for yoga teachers and yoga therapists worldwide.  Our mission is to establish yoga as a recognized and respected therapy. Founded in 1989, IAYT has consistently championed yoga as a healing art and science.

International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT)

National Association of Certified Yoga Teachers

The National Association of Certified Yoga Teachers (NACYT) is a nonprofit that offers a free national registry for certified yoga teachers of all traditions. In addition, NACYT is a nationally recognized not-for-profit certifying body for yoga teacher certification courses at both the 200 and 500 hour level. The purpose of NACYT is to bring a semblance of simplicity to the national yoga community. Together, let’s form a simple national registry without unnecessary complications, restrictions and regulations. – Lex Gillan, Founding President

National Association of Certified Yoga Teachers (NACYT)s

World Yoga Federation

World Yoga Federation is an organisation that works towards equal opportunity and international recognition of all yoga practitioners, teachers and organisations from all over the world. World Yoga Federation provides International Certification, recognition, registration and an International Platform to Yoga Organizations, Yoga Federations, Yoga Institutes, Yoga Studios and Yoga Teachers worldwide.

World Yoga Federation

World Yoga Federation United States

Yoga Alliance

Yoga Alliance fosters and supports the high quality, safe, accessible, and equitable teaching of yoga.

Yoga Alliance

Yoga Alliance Misperceptions

Yoga Alliance Professionals

We are not and have never been affiliated with Yoga Alliance USA or any other external body. We believe Yoga Alliance USA plays a significant role in the reduction of standards and is the main reason we don’t want the public to be confused with us and YA USA. Since inception, we have always asked that the teacher has a minimum of 8 years and 4000 hours of teaching experience to run a Training Course. Additionally, we require the teacher to teach 70% of the course. In short, our standards are more than four times greater than YA USA. Our first step in moving away from any confusion was to change the name to Yoga Alliance Professionals. Our long-term approach is to drop the name Alliance, but this will take time with 8000+ live members.

Yoga Alliance Professionals

Yoga Association of Greater Detroit

Yoga Association of Greater Detroit is a multi-discipline resource organization for Detroit-area yoga instructors, bringing them together to share their knowledge and expertise.

Yoga Associatin of Greater Detroit

Yoga Australia

Yoga Australia is a voluntary, not-for-profit association, incorporated in 1999 (originally known as the Yoga Teachers Association). It was originally founded by a group of independent yoga teachers who recognised the need to bring yoga teachers together from all different traditions, styles and backgrounds, to provide mutual support and professional recognition of yoga in Australia. Today Yoga Australia is recognised as the peak body for Yoga in Australia. We strive to support our fellow yogis and ensure the sustainability and longevity of our industry in this country and around the globe.

Yoga Australia

We have worked with experienced trainers who have also worked with Yoga Australia and who have vouched for the effectiveness and support of the Yoga Australia model. In addition, what Yoga Australia has published makes it clear that their model is completely different from Yoga Alliance USA. Therefore, we have published a detailed summary and comparison below, most of which was compiled by an experienced trainer in Australia.

Yoga Teacher Central

Yoga Teacher Central offers Minimum Knowledge Standards for yoga teachers to: 1) Promote and support widespread adoption of training models that adequately prepare yoga teaching professional, and 2) Make it easy for teachers to become aware of gaps in their knowledge, and to efficiently bolster their education in foundational knowledge.

Yoga Teacher Central Standards & Self-Assessment Hub

Yoga Unify

Yoga Unify is a non-profit, participatory network dedicated to empowering the evolution of yoga. Yoga Unify is a supportive blend of governance and guidance that honors ancient wisdom while meeting modern needs. YŪ aims to address the challenges plaguing every facet of the industry, from the poverty-line payment structure to the profound effects of the pandemic on our studios, to the ever-present elephants in the room: equity and ethics.

Yoga Unify

 


Yoga Australia

The following research and review is provided by teacher trainer and Yoga Alternatives Board member, Sarcha Thurston of Yoga Hub Perth.

Highlights

Here are a few particularly powerful excerpts from the summary below.

    1. A training program may only be registered with Yoga Australia by Level 3 / Senior Members (requiring 1,000 hours of training and 10 years of teaching experience).
    2. Yoga Australia’s membership levels account for both hours of training and years spent teaching. The inclusion of years teaching fosters an unhurried learning of the system of yoga as teachers increase skills and experience over their lifetime.
    3. The Yoga Alliance system, in contrast, makes it possible to go from never practicing yoga to training teachers in about 2 months.
    4. Yoga Alliance “approves” 200-hour trainings as short as three to four weeks long.
    5. Yoga Australia recognises and accepts professional development courses that are not registered with Yoga Australia and allows these to count towards a member’s accrual of training hours. Yoga Alliance, on the other hand, limits acceptable training hours to those conducted via their organization only. The definition of monopoly is “exclusive possession or control of the supply of or trade in a commodity or service” which is the structure that Yoga Alliance uses. The Yoga Alliance model thereby maximises membership, training registrations and the associated fees collected but rejects such high quality training options as university courses.
    6. The system for participating with Yoga Alliance is funneled, meaning they only recognise the YA pathway – even though there are other organisations that do the same thing. If you don’t join the system at the bottom end, you are kept out of the system completely. In other words, no matter how experienced and qualified a teacher or trainer is, they are required to take a 200-hour training with a Yoga Alliance school to be recognized and be able to begin building hours in the Yoga Alliance system.

The process and differentiation summaries below are verifiable by reviewing the Yoga Australia and Yoga Alliance websites. In addition, Thurston has first-hand experience with the training school registration process of both organizations. (See more: Teacher & Trainer Reports About Yoga Alliance.)

Yoga Australia Training Membership Levels

  • Provisional Members have completed a min 200 hours of training, but less than 350 hours.
  • Level 1 Members have completed a min of 350 hours of training.
  • Level 2 Members have completed a min of 500 hours of training and have been teaching for 5 years.
  • Level 3 / Senior Members have completed a min of 1,000 hours of training and have been teaching for 10 years.
  • Only Senior Members can register teacher training courses with Yoga Australia.
  • Registered Mentor Highly experienced teachers (min Level 3 / Senior Members) can register in a particular area of specialty. There is no formal structure around the training the mentor offers. In other words, Yoga Australia honors the trainings proposed by highly experienced teacher trainers.

For example, one of the yoga teachers that works for Thurston and Yoga Hub Perth has the following qualifications:

  • Registered Mentor with Yoga Australia for “Trauma in the Context of Yoga”
  • Level 3 Senior Teacher (25 Years)
  • Retired Medical Doctor
  • Somatic Experiencing Trauma Yoga Specialist (3 years / Peter Levine)

Other Membership Types

  • Subscriber memberships for general public
  • Associate membership (retired teachers etc.)

Cost

  • Membership is free to people undertaking training.
  • Yoga Australia offers free membership to trainees from the first day of their training until the end of their provisional training, allowing them to access services as they complete their training.

Continuing Education & Professional Development

  • Yoga Australia encourages the registration of Professional Development Courses with their organisation and will promote those courses on its platforms and channels.
  • Unlike Yoga Alliance, Yoga Australia recognises and accepts professional development courses that are not registered with Yoga Australia and allows these to count towards a member’s accrual of training hours.

In other words Yoga Australia is not trying to be a closed circle (monopoly). I think  this is important as I was able to use university study in neuroscience, anatomy and Sanskrit language to count toward my 1,000 hours. Obviously, university study is not going to be registered with a yoga industry body but the study was highly relevant to my teaching and was superior to many of the registered trainings I have undertaken. – Sarcha Thurston

Teacher Trainings

  • A training program may only be registered with Yoga Australia by Level 3 / Senior Members (requiring 1,000 hours of training and 10 years of teaching experience).
  • As such, Yoga Australia does not “micromanage” at the application level because the trainer is assumed to be sufficiently trained and experienced to deliver the training.
  • Nearly all the trainings listed on the Yoga Australia website are offered between 6 and 24 months, the most common being 12 month trainings for 200 hours.

Member Services & Benefits

  • Registry of teachers and trainers
  • Registry of training programs
  • Monthly magazine
  • Yearly conference
  • Ongoing professional development courses
  • Promotes and publicises Australian yoga events
  • Easily accessed via phone and email

Yoga Australia vs. Yoga Alliance

Length of Experience

  • Yoga Australia’s membership levels account for both hours of training and years spent teaching (up to 1,000 hours of training and 10 years of teaching experience). The inclusion of years teaching fosters an unhurried learning of the system of yoga as teachers increase skills and experience over their lifetime.
  • The Yoga Alliance Model, in contrast, makes it possible to go from never practicing yoga to training teachers in about 2 months.
  • Yoga Alliance “approves” 200 hour trainings as short as three to four weeks long.

Quality of Experience

  • Yoga Australia recognises and accepts professional development courses that are not registered with Yoga Australia and allows these to count towards a member’s accrual of training hours.
  • Yoga Alliance, on the other hand, limits acceptable training hours to those conducted via their organization only. The definition of monopoly is “exclusive possession or control of the supply of or trade in a commodity or service” which is the structure that Yoga Alliance uses.
  • The Yoga Alliance model thereby maximises membership, training registrations and the associated fees collected but rejects such high quality training options as university courses.

System

  •  The system for participating with Yoga Alliance is funneled, meaning they only recognise the YA pathway – even though there are other organisations that do the same thing. If you don’t join the system at the bottom end, you are kept out of the system completely.
  • In other words, no matter how experienced and qualified a teacher or trainer is, they are required to take a 200-hour training with a Yoga Alliance school to be recognized and be able to begin building hours in the Yoga Alliance system.
  • On the other hand, Yoga Australia accepts trainings that increase skills, knowledge and quality.
  • The Yoga Alliance levels (RYT 200, E-RYT 200, RYT 500, E-RYT-500) imply an effort by a standards body to equitably evaluate teachers when in fact “achievement” of these designations is entirely dependent upon self-based reporting of hours and the payment of fees with no outside verification. Highly qualified, senior teachers are unrecognized within the Yoga Alliance system.

See Also

 


Heart of Yoga Proposed Standards

Heart of Yoga has proposed a set of teaching standards for widespread adoption.

Please read and consider your perspective on these standards. Perhaps you’ll agree with them wholeheartedly and want to implement them and spread them. Perhaps you’ll want to use them as a baseline and enact or suggest additions or changes. Perhaps you want to get involved with others engaged in such efforts.

We have copied each of the standards in the proposal and added support resources: Teaching Standards Proposal.

It is our intention that the education standards outlined here will be adopted by all sincere Yoga teachers and institutions. There is no doubt that actual Yoga is extremely helpful to our lives. But it must include the principles of breath, bandha, etc that actually make it Yoga. There must be an education to do this. The attempt to create safety standards without understanding the systemic flaws is fruitless, and the hidden hierarchy of the teacher as the ‘knower’ and the student as the one trying to ‘know’, must be eliminated for Yoga to start. When the principles of Yoga, such as were brought through by Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, are taken on, each person’s Yoga becomes entirely their own, powerful, efficient, and safe. Krishnamacharya was the origin point of so much of modern Yoga, but his teaching that Yoga must be adapted to the individual, not the individual to the Yoga is hardly available. When Yoga is adapted to individual, it becomes what it always was, each person’s direct intimacy with life. In this relationship, healing occurs in every way. May we get the job done together, and bring an actual yoga education to the world. – HeartofYoga.com  link


Knowledge Standards Proposal

Yoga Teacher Central offers specific Minimum Knowledge Standards for yoga teachers to:

  1. Promote and support widespread adoption of training models that adequately prepare yoga teaching professionals.
  2. Make it easy for teachers to become aware of gaps in their knowledge, and to efficiently bolster their education in foundational knowledge.

Context

The techniques that teachers use in their growth and evolution fall into two broad categories:

  1. Practice, and
  2. Knowledge Acquisition

Here we use “practice” to mean all those things that you engage in with the mind-body in real time, including not only your personal practice (including self-study and reflection) but also practice teaching and receiving coaching and mentoring.

Both practice and knowledge are critical to teaching effectiveness.

  • Teaching is not simply spouting knowledge, and it’s not just oversight and coaching of students. Excellent teaching is a sharing of your whole self, including your accumulation of experience and a transmission of your energy.
  • A teacher lacking adequate practice will not have the level of experience and consciousness needed to transmit the depth associated with transformation, and they may sound “hollow” or superficial.
  • A teacher lacking adequate knowledge will be unprepared to utilize and adapt the broad and deep teachings that are needed to effectively meet the variety of student needs.

The primary reason for distinguishing knowledge acquisition from practice is this:

  • Many vital aspects of a yoga journey fall under the category of practice, which cannot be written down in a book or manual.
  • Knowledge, however, can be methodically studied, which is an accessible and practical way for every teacher to efficiently build an ever-more-powerful teaching toolkit.

Practice is critical to personal evolution, which happens in organic and non-linear ways. Knowledge, however, is a component of teaching that can be methodically learned at a pace that you define.

Here we specify knowledge standards to make it easier for trainers to adequately prepare trainees and for teachers to identify knowledge gaps and fill them.

 


History & Background

In case you’re wondering about the backstory… In 2019, we announced the formation of an Alternatives to Yoga Alliance Board. In less than a month, 39 trainers came forward to share their knowledge and time.

  • These were excellent and highly competent folks in our field, displaying high integrity. Many have 20 or more years of experience training teachers.
  • Many of the board members shared that they experienced renewed hope and optimism after meeting other colleagues with such admirable experience, wisdom and integrity.
  • The trainers came together to share information and to propose considerations related to the current state of the yoga teaching field, different approaches to standards, issues with Yoga Alliance registry, and alternatives.
  • Many more teachers and trainers wrote in sharing gratitude, questions and stories. You, too, are personally invited to write in at any time to share your thoughts.
  • The board was formed as a short-term method for kickstarting connections and actions. And it worked! The trainers who participated made connections, shared ideas and resources and began collaborating on numerous efforts. Much of what they shared and learned is captured in our free pages on these subjects. And a number of new resources we now offer also had their seeds sown from the outcomes of the board’s work.

Yoga Teacher Central’s New Offerings

In response to requests from trainers, Yoga Teacher Central is launching an Authorized Trainers program in 2021 along with YTC Teacher recognition and certification opportunities.

  • These are not governance efforts but rather are optional considerations for teachers and trainers interested in demonstrating high standards of knowledge acquisition and application.
  • We decided to offer our new recognition options only after considered thought and more than a year of watching and waiting to see what else might pop up. As the result of many conversations with trainers and a belief that we can contribute to the upleveling of knowledge standards among yoga teachers, we’ve come to this decision to publish minimum standards and offer recognition opportunities.
  • Learn more: Standards & Self-Assessment Hub.

Sources & Resources

  1. Brown, J. (J. Brown Yoga) – Giving Yoga Alliance a Chance  link
  2. Brown, J. (YogaAnatomy.org) – Yoga Alliance Approved, My Ass  link
  3. Carlson, Karin (J. Brown Yoga Talks) – Yoga Alliance is Beside the Point  link
  4. Carlson, Karin (Return Yoga) – Yoga Alliance  link
  5. Halliday, Jillian (YogiApproved.com) – Do Yoga Instructors Really Need to Join Yoga Alliance?  link
  6. International Yoga Federation – International Yoga Federation Home Page  link
  7. International Yoga Registry – International Yoga Registry  link
  8. MacDonald, Kala (Yoga to Cope) – Yoga Alliance Alternatives Board  link
  9. National Association of Certified Yoga Teachers – Affiliated with the Yoga Institute  link
  10. Schrei, Josh (Tapta Marg Productions) – Why I Am Revoking My Yoga Alliance Registration  link
  11. Yoga Alliance – Yoga Alliance Home Page  link
  12. Wooley, Katherine Austin (Karma Yoga) How Yoga Alliance is Ruining Yoga  link

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