Here we expand upon opportunities for connecting with others, alternatives to Yoga Alliance registration, the differences between Yoga Australia and Yoga Alliance, and the services that Yoga Teacher Central provides.
Discussion & Resource Summary
This resource section offers factual, verifiable information on Yoga Alliance registry and alternatives. Select from these subjects:
- Registration, Certification, Accreditation — Why You Don’t Need to Pay the Yoga Alliance Fees
- Who is Responsible for Teaching Competency Standards? — What Standards Must Be Met? + Widely Recognized & Influential Teachers Not Registered with YA
- Yoga Alliance Alternatives — Research Summaries on Other Registries & Certifications + Groups Developing New Programs (you’re currently on this page)
- Insurance Providers — Insurance options for Yoga Teachers and Teacher Trainers
- YA Truth & Reconciliation — Teacher & Trainer Reports About Yoga Alliance
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
- 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.
- Be aware that you are free to register or not register with Yoga Alliance.
- 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
There are existing alternatives to Yoga Alliance and more in development. You options include:
- Participate in existing certification programs such as Iyengar, International Association of Yoga Therapists or OHYA Original Hot Yoga Association.
- Highlight your roots and education such as the Krishnamacharya lineage, Kripalu or Para Yoga-trained and so on.
- 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.
- Develop or choose alternative services.
Collaborating with Your Colleagues
In the latter part of 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. They represent the best of our field, displaying high integrity and many having 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 wow, did it ever work! The trainers who participated made connections, shared ideas and resources and began collaborating on numerous efforts. Some of what they shared is captured here in this section and more is in the works. If you want to connect with anyone working on particular subjects, write in at any time.
Research & Review Summaries
One task of the board (described above) is to research and communicate how existing registration and certification systems work.
These research and review projects are intended to:
- Bring current options together in one place for review.
- Clarify how various systems work and consider the effects on teachers, trainers and students.
- Enable teachers and trainers to see the benefits and limitations of the various options, and how they differ.
In the following sections, we will add the summaries as we gather them. So far, we have information on the following:
- Yoga Teaching Standards (by Mark Whitwell and Heart of Yoga) Proposed for Community-Wide Adoption
- National Association of Certified Yoga Teachers (NACYT)
- Yoga Australia
- Yoga Teacher Central
National Association of Certified Yoga Teachers (NACYT)
The following information is from the NACYT website. In addition, we’ve spoken with founder Lex Gillan, an honorable and extremely experienced yoga teacher trainer.
- The National Association of Certified Yoga Teachers (NACYT) is a nonprofit that offers a free national registry for certified yoga teachers of all traditions. The registry is a free service to the yoga community — no registration fees and no annual dues.
- 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. In this role, it’s associated with The Yoga Institute, founded decades before national standards for certification courses and teachers were established in the late ’90s.
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
The following research and review is provided by teacher trainer and Yoga Alternatives Board member, Sarcha Thurston of Yoga Hub Perth.
Here are a few particularly powerful excerpts from the summary below.
- 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).
- 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.
- The Yoga Alliance system, 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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 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
- 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.
- 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.
Proposed Standards for Community-Wide Adoption
The following teaching standards have been proposed for widespread adoption. (They were written by Mark Whitwell, founder of Heart of Yoga.)
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.
Here you’ll find not only the proposed standards but also resources to support them.
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 make it actually 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
Yoga Teacher Central
Back in 2013, J. Brown suggested that the field could benefit by “a trade organization that promotes best practices by providing resources.” Yoga Teacher Central is one such organization that is helping our field to evolve in positive ways.
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
- Due to a request from our trainer members, Yoga Teacher Central will begin to publicly recognize (for no additional cost) trainers who have used our resources and support in developing their training programs.
- The Yoga Teacher Central “accreditation” will signify the trainer has utilized YTC resources and support, indicating that the trainer is showing good faith in meeting high standards of safety and quality and utilizing verifiably high-quality resources.
- In other words, Yoga Teacher Central continues to be an option as it has always been: a resource for teachers and trainers. The additional service to be added soon is to publicly recognize members who wish to be affirmed in this way.
- Yoga Teacher Central recognition is one of a multitude of options available to trainers and is not intended to provide governance.
Sources & Resources
- Brown, J. (J. Brown Yoga) – Giving Yoga Alliance a Chance link
- Brown, J. (YogaAnatomy.org) – Yoga Alliance Approved, My Ass link
- Carlson, Karin (J. Brown Yoga Talks) – Yoga Alliance is Beside the Point link
- Carlson, Karin (Return Yoga) – Yoga Alliance link
- Halliday, Jillian (YogiApproved.com) – Do Yoga Instructors Really Need to Join Yoga Alliance? link
- International Yoga Federation – International Yoga Federation Home Page link
- International Yoga Registry – International Yoga Registry link
- MacDonald, Kala (Yoga to Cope) – Yoga Alliance Alternatives Board link
- National Association of Certified Yoga Teachers – Affiliated with the Yoga Institute link
- Schrei, Josh (Tapta Marg Productions) – Why I Am Revoking My Yoga Alliance Registration link
- Yoga Alliance – Yoga Alliance Home Page link
- Wooley, Katherine Austin (Karma Yoga) – How Yoga Alliance is Ruining Yoga link