How can we help ensure that Yoga Teachers know what they’re doing?

Via Walk The Talk Show
on Apr 23, 2014
get elephant's newsletter

Richard Karpel

Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis.

Waylon on the Future of Yoga Teaching with Yoga Alliance CEO Richard Karpel.

A transparent, critical, but fun conversation:


“We need to see ourselves through other peoples’ eyes to get better.” ~ Richard Karpel



Elephant is psyched to be working in partnership with Google+ on our new live video series, which features three live videos a week (that can be watched later, too). 


Richard Karpel

Info from Yoga Alliance:

Richard Karpel is president and CEO of Yoga Alliance, the largest nonprofit organization representing the yoga community.

Yoga Alliance’s mission is to spread the power of yoga, one person at a time. Currently, their members include over 45,000 registered teachers and more than 3,000 registered schools.

Prior to joining Yoga Alliance in July 2012, Richard was executive director of the professional organization that represents daily newspaper editors, and before that he led the trade association for alternative newsweeklies like the Village Voice and Chicago Reader for 14 years.

He also worked for the association that represented the home video industry, back in the old days when people rented videos. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and a law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law.


Yoga Alliance on elephant journal:

An Open Response from Yoga Alliance.

Yoga Alliance CEO Richard Karpel Answers Hard-Hitting Questions About YogaGlo Patent Controversy.

Richard Karpel, President of Yoga Alliance Speaks: Creating Radical Tansparency.

yoga alliance


We got your social mediums right heah:

Get our best, new conversations through our Walk the Talk Show newsletter.

On Facebook? “Like” Walk the Talk Show. 

Hangout on Google+ every Monday, Wednesday & Friday at Noon MST.

Listen: Walk your Talk on your commute or over dishes with Soundcloud.

Subscribe directly to our award-winning Youtube Channel.


Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photos: Yoga Alliance


About Walk The Talk Show

Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis is fun, yet fundamentally serious. We aim to be "The Daily Show of mindfulness," spreading the good news beyond the choir to those who weren't sure they gave a care. Our videos are featured on more than 20 sites, including Fan us on facebook too.


18 Responses to “How can we help ensure that Yoga Teachers know what they’re doing?”

  1. yogibattle says:

    Question for Richard: It is clear that the 200 hour certification sets the bar way too low. As a result, there are more yoga teachers than there are students! This has wreaked havoc on many yoga communities nationwide not only in terms of increased competition for the few students who are left, and the horrendous stories of injury and lack of teaching skill in classes. A common one I hear from YA teachers is "if you have a headstand in your practice, do it now." What if anything is Yoga Alliance doing to increase standards in teaching?

  2. yogibattle says:

    Thank you for addressing my question Waylon and Richard. It still appears as though the question of increasing standards was not addressed aside from the new addition of a code of ethics. The 200 hour certification appears to be the elephant in the room (play on words not intended), and many still feel this sets the bar too low. Although some come to the certification process with many years of experience already as Richard pointed out, the vast majority do not. Some students are asked to become a teacher after their second yoga class because the studio needs money. At $4k per student, TT's are the cash cow for RYT degree-mill studios. I think for Yoga Alliance to be relevant and not just a glorified bulletin board is for them to actually go after some of these "schools." Kudos to Waylon for pointing out that teachers who have been teaching for 20+ years and teach all 8 limbs of yoga have only six students in their class, while the faddish yoga down the street is putting a cap at 50 students per class due to fire codes. I feel if this continues, yoga will soon go the way of aerobics or Jazzercise and will be supplanted by the next fitness craze.

  3. Colette Pratt says:

    I know of a teacher now, applying to YA, because he needs income revenue. He sleeps with students! These students, many of them married, depressed, sucked in by his charisma, charm, good looks.
    I have stopped attending his classes due to his lack of ethics. I gave him a book about teacher/student boundaries to no avail. I think he needs therapy!
    He is a good asana teacher, but so what? It is my word against his, and these married woman fear for their husbands to find out and ditch them…who is to stop him? He has no fear that I can see. I studied with him for 4 years and I don't think he ever did his chef's either. I do mine, because I am a RN. He studies, but informally. He also is a massage therapist. (Who suddenly became Thai, when it became popular)we live in Ann Arbor, MI.

  4. neil says:

    This is an interesting talk between two Westerners about how to organize yoga. Funnnny. Yoga was never meant to be just a physical practice but rather a science of consciousness, mind, body, energy, and connection. In the West we have totally taken yoga out of context and made it a product for selling rather than simply doing. It is too bad but too many Westerners are missing the whole point of yoga. Each person is different and needs to follow a path which is suitable for him/her. Coming up with stringent guidelines, credentials, certifications, social feedback, registration and so on is missing the boat entirely. The mark of expertise, for instance, in wearing different colored headbands is an example of Westernizing yoga into a hierarchy filled with ambition, ego, and materialism. Is this really what yoga is about?

  5. karen katz says:

    I think Yoga will be just fine-because, as it has been pointed out, Yoga is over 5000 years old. I am worried, having encountered some fairly mediocre teachers, that many Americans will not derive the full benefit of Yoga, because they are only observing the asana limb, or that they will be injured because the basics of alignment, of ahimsa and satya in one's practice, are not taught. In my own city of Baltimore, I have encounterd fellow students who got way over their heads, both figuratively and literally, and sustained injuries.
    I appreciate that the YA at least is trying to organize the whole thing. It might be ultimately unorganizable, but at least they having a go at it.

  6. bradd says:

    Two non-yogis discussing how to "fix" yoga. American Yoga is collapsing of its own weight of hypocrisy, greed, and ignorance. And that's a good thing.

  7. elephantjournal says:

    Wow. I practice yoga, and love yoga. But I guess I should ask you to define "yogi," and practice and teach meditation, have my whole life. That said, I am an idiot. 😉 ~ @WaylonLewis

  8. elephantjournal says:

    Richard and Yoga Alliance will be happy to answer questions–I don't think they, or I, get alerts when comments are left on elephant, and we get 1000s of comments a day. I'll be happy to respond this afternoon, with thanks for your patience! ~ Waylon Lewis

  9. elephantjournal says:

    Headbands?! C'mon, Neil. 😉 That was humor, friend. Perhaps a grin and a wink are healthy, hey?

    I have no interest in organizing yoga. I do have interest in seeing the next generations of yoga teachers be grounded in training, alignment, adjustments, breath, meditation and intention. YA can hopefully help that, in its rather vague and challenging role in ensuring that yoga teacher training programs offer quality. ~ @WaylonLewis

  10. neil says:

    Ha! Gotcha. I was kidding too. Love you.

  11. bradd graves says:

    As an apparently successful new-agey businessman, you are clearly not an idiot ;). For more information on what is not yoga, see the facebook group of the same name: More fun than a barrel of 200 hr YA "certified" Yoga Instructors!

  12. elephantjournal says:

    Oof. I'm dedicated to the opposite of new age, hopefully. Nothing new agey about working to learn about and inspire eco responsibility, daily meditation (an ancient, not new, and rather fundamentally human practice) and social responsibility. But! If you're ribbing me, I'm happy to be ribbed–one of the basic qualities of non-new-agey spirituality is, hopefully, a sense of humor about oneself.

    PS: you should blog on ele! We need more not yoga. 😉

  13. elephantjournal says:

    Whew. Mwuah.

  14. @rkarpel says:

    Hi yogibattle. We are not increasing standards. First we need to provide oversight and accountability for the standards that we already have. That is what Social Credentialing is designed to do.

    Social Credentialing is our way of "going after the schools." We are asking their students — who know much more about what is happening at the schools than you or I — to evaluate them and let us know if they are up to snuff.

    Yoga has been around for 5,000 years and continues to grow each and every day. I guess I have more confidence than you that it won't be supplanted by the next fitness craze.

  15. @rkarpel says:

    Neil, I sympathize with your point about "guidelines, credentials, certifications" missing the point. We discuss that issue at the beginning of our most recent online workshop and explain why we need to have credentials even though they may "miss the point":

    I agree yoga is more than merely a physical practice. However, I would also note that you begin your statement by telling us with certainty what yoga is, but then follow it by making this seemingly contradictory statement: "Each person is different and needs to follow a path that is suitable for him/her." Aren't you asking to have it both ways? If someone else experiences yoga as a purely physical practice, why is it OK for you to question whether or not that path is suitable for them? Perhaps the physical practice will be their entry point to experience the deeper joys of yoga.

    P.S. If you listen to the interview again, I think you will find that neither Waylon nor I every discuss "how to organize yoga.' Neither of us are that arrogant!

  16. @rkarpel says:

    Thanks Karen. I agree, except for the "organizing" part (see my response to Neil above!) We aren't trying to organize yoga teacher trainings. Our objective is to increase the likelihood that more yoga teachers teach safely and competently and have the ability to inspire their students to experience the full joy and benefit of a lifelong yoga practice. That will help us achieve our mission of spreading the power of yoga, one person at a time.

  17. @rkarpel says:

    Bradd, I would like to subscribe to your newsletter so I can learn how not to be a hypocritical, greedy, ignorant non-yogi!

  18. Mark says:

    45,000 teachers join because they need insurance. They need insurance to teach in a public building. The rest is of very little use. Yoga is a doing word. Just do it.