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Who is in charge of Yoga Alliance?

Registered my Asana!

by Kimberly Hardick

O The importance put on a piece of paper. It becomes the end of the journey for some. The summit, the pinnacle, and unfortunately THE END. I see to often as the owner of a yoga studio and a yoga mentorship/studentship program. It is because of what I see and hear in the yoga community that I see no value in the Yoga Alliance. I have not always felt that way, even encouraged my teachers to join, I mistakenly believed it would:

  • Make them better teachers
  • Allow them to get insurance
  • Allow my teachers to “train” other to teach
  •  That my students cared

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Yoga Alliance and the military contractors InfoTek

I even went thru the long process of becoming an RYT-200 and RYT 500 then an E-RYT 200 and AN E-RYT500 and finally an RYS200 thinking my next step RYS500. Then I woke up.

What does it all mean? That you are a yoga teacher with a lot to learn. I giggle when I hear Yoga teachers liken RYT 500 to a master’s degree in yoga. Really? I only have 10 years of study in Yoga and I am far from being a master.
Many of the programs that are RYS with yoga alliance are what they call fast track, a few weeks of study, you walk out the door with a piece of paper that cost you a thousand plus and the honor of sending YA more money so that you can be Registered. I wonder how many of those schools belief in your ability to share your practice enough to have you begin teaching or subbing at their studio? That to me is the mark of a program committed to their students.

I had a teacher come to audition for me. She was not only an RYT but RYT500, and a massage therapist!! My heart sank as she began her audition and I was saddened. She had been taught a script, (that script was not going to work in the studio,) and she was so caught up in reciting a script that she could not remember and it kept her from being present and in the moment. She had a beautiful practice but was unable to confidently share it with others. This was when I began to wake up.

Yoga Alliance website clearly states “A Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT®) designation is a symbol of experience, dedication, and commitment on the part of your yoga teacher.” AND “A Registered Yoga School (RYS®) designation is a symbol of experience, dedication, and commitment on the part of the school, and is open to schools that have met Yoga Alliance standards at the 200-Hour and 500-Hour levels.”

I beg to differ. Being RYS is a publicity scam, and as far as I am concerned it is up to the yoga teachers and studio owners to help educate our students. Check out some of the more well-known names in yoga that have been around for years, most if not all are not affiliated with YA and they are doing just fine.

Have I taken a hit in the quantity of students that go thru my program? Yes, but I have not taken a hit in the quality of students that are interested in going deeper in their practice with the intent to share yoga with others. I have no interest in wasting my time on someone who is in it for the paper. I want to work with seriously committed students that realize what I am offering is just the beginning and that to be a truly effective teacher you are going to be logging in 1000’s of hours for the duration of your life as a yogi.

It was shared with me by an attorney that RYT status thru the yoga alliance means as much as the good-housing keeping seal of approval. Although, the Good Housekeeping seal of approval guarantees your money back if a product approved by them is defective.

Yoga Alliance is a “not for profit” organization. It is not an official list or record of qualified teachers, only teachers that are either misinformed or those that think it will land them a better teaching job. You do not need to be RYT with YA in order to be insured, nor do you need it to teach. I have never once been asked to show my affiliation with YA. There are other options available if you just need a card, and some offer you more for your money. IAYT sends out a beautiful publication several times a year. You also have IYEA, this is a yoga registry by donation. Iwellpros is yet another nonprofit looking to synergize the wellness community.

Yoga Alliance and the Website Commissioned from InfoTek

I recently passed down my In depth Yoga Study to one of my teachers, I prefer to call it that than to call it a Yoga Teacher Training as we are not training any one, we are mentoring and guiding our students to share yoga with others. Before I did, I needed to be sure that I was not passing on being affiliated with YA for personal reasons (this is yet another article as I feel they were instrumental in the states trying to force regulation on yoga) So, I spent time researching the internet. What I found were affirmations that money sent to the YA was money wasted. Registered my asana!

There is not now nor do I ever see there ever being a certifying Yoga body, either nationally or internationally. How can there be?

Each person who walks into the classroom presents with them their own unique story, that story shows up in the physical body. Each persons experience is going to be different and shared in a unique way.

Yoga as a practice cannot be regulated. It is a life long journey to health and wellness and one that will change from day to day. The moment I feel I have nothing to learn is the moment I am done as a teacher.
The Yoga Sutras make this pretty clear.

I am often frustrated by teachers, many of them are also my friends, who insist on keeping their paid status with YA as an RYS and an E-RYT for the marketability, yet each agreeing that YA credentials are meaningless.
Why are so many yogis’s attached to the idea of a 200 or 500 E-RYT?

Consider why #YogaAlliance is "the nationally recognized education and support organization for yoga in the United States?"

Does that designation really reflect who you are as a teacher and what you have to offer? Part of practicing yoga is the act of non-attachment and the relinquishing of labels. What are we saying if we are so attached to attaining that summit? I believe it is important to pause and think about where you want to go in your practice, but recognize if you are truly in yoga, there is no end. It is a lifelong commitment to growth and learning.

I agree we all have this inborn desire to be a part of something. There are ambassador programs popping up all over the place, none of them reflecting your knowledge or skill as a yoga teacher, but your image, your salability and what can you do for them. Yet Yoga teachers are standing in line, bending over backwards as they give away themselves and their money in the hopes of being picked as this years Ambassador.

Today all you have to do is go to godaddy.com and for $12.00’s buy a domain and suddenly you are the founder of a business idea to tag along behind your name. Impressive all of these titles, but does it really make you a good yoga guide or just someone with good marketing skills. I have to chuckle because I too have fallen prey to the game. I myself own several domains, I am not the founder, I just happened to be the first to purchase the name in the hopes of making my site more visible. I have some pretty good ones. Seeyouonthemat.com Godeeponthemat.com Yogabeyondtheasanas.com WhatsSupyoga.com Indepthyogastudy.com Myyogateachertraining.com, The list goes on.

The president of YA, John Mathews, who spoke so freely with me about change, even asked me to get on board so that my voice could be heard, resigned. As of this writing the YA has no president and we are going on two months. Who is in charge? Have you looked at the list of board members? One of the main reasons I declined the presidents offer to get back in. Many are affiliated with corporate yoga programs, putting out large numbers of “teachers” in a short period of time. Where is the mentoring, the studentship and the time to cultivate and grow. I wonder how many of these students that they “train” would they confidently allow them to teach their class?

Before we got into the “teacher training” We mentored at Aledo Yoga. We allowed new teachers fresh out of teacher training to co-teach with us, to get grounded and be confident. That was when I realized the importance of a mentorship/studentship program as part of our study.

I pride myself in the fact that when my students earn their first wing, that they are not only ready to share their practice with my endorsement, but that I have had them in front of the class room at my studio with my students.
I was told years ago, if you are going to teach, you better be prepared to suck. I know I did in the beginning (and occasional even now after 10 years) but wouldn’t it have been nice to have had a mentor, a seasoned teacher there to fall back on, to hold my hand those first few times.

Yoga is much more then the Asanas. It goes beyond the mat as a physical practice. It is a way of living your life and healing from the inside out.

I share with my students that the way you do anything is the way you do everything. Think about it.