October 12, 2014

Yoga Alliance & IAYT: Are They Worth It? ~ Kirstie Segarra


Yoga Alliance (YA) is a voluntary registry of yoga teachers who have graduated from certified YA schools.

Watch: Waylon’s frank but friendly talk with YA’s new leader, who we like.

During the first few years of Yoga Alliance [YA], teachers could be grandfathered into YA. There is a second organization for yoga therapists with the International Association of Yoga Therapist (IAYT). IAYT certified their first group of schools in 2014 and are beginning a credentialing process for teachers.

I am a member of both organizations.

What I find interesting is that I am not sure I receive anything of value from either of them.

Thus ensues my frustration.

Yoga Alliance began in 1999 and IAYT began in 1989. One of IAYT’s founders, Larry Payne, obtained a false doctorate degree from Pacific Western according to William Broad, author of The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards. He bought his doctorate for a flat fee.

I did searches on several of the founding members of YA and was unable to find any formal credentialing. The big ethical question is :

Can leaders of organizations with no credentialing ethically set standards for others, especially since yoga has been traditionally taught in an apprentice-style format?

As an instructor of a yoga teacher training program at an institution of higher learning, I have had to design a program and bring it through a curriculum review process that was eventually approved by the Department of Higher Education. This process had nothing to do with YA or IAYT. It had to meet standards required in formal education.

This is a more rigorous process than either YA or IAYT.

Recently, I was exploring the idea of expanding our 200 RYT program to a 500 RYT program and I stumbled on a barrier with YA. In order to have a 500 RYT program, the lead instructor has to have graduated from a YA 500 RYT approved school. In 2010, YA did away with a certification process for instructors who trained at non-YA schools.

In other words, if you didn’t graduate from a Yoga Alliance school you can’t teach under their system.

I am one of those teachers.

I have over 10,000 hours of teaching experience, a stack of degrees and continuing education that adds up to several thousand hours, and I don’t qualify. In fact I e-mailed Richard Karpel, President of YA, to request that they reinstate the alternative pathways and he stated,

We receive 1,700 applications per month from yoga teachers who want to register with us. It’s impossible to review each application on a case-by-case basis.”

He did mention that they may reintroduce the alternative pathways, but it would take at least two years.

“It will likely take up to two years to develop and institute that process, and I can’t be certain that you would qualify even after the process is developed.”

Of course, I just received an e-mail that Richard will be leaving YA at the end of the year. No!

It was the last bit that got me—you may not qualify. Hmmm. Maybe, I don’t want to work with YA anymore. I stepped back and began to examine what YA and IAYT do to support me as a yoga teacher and the school I teach in. I recognized that they set baseline standards. Our programs meet and exceed them because we wanted to increase the quality of yoga teachers and have more anatomy and physiology training, awareness of preventing injuries and integrity.

I never felt the 20 hours of anatomy and physiology was enough for a 200 RYT.

Additionally, I work with a wonderful group of yoga teachers managing a yoga non-profit studio. We sustain through memberships and donations. The fees charged by both organizations are a financial strain for a small town non-profit.

I believe that the idea of both organizations was to invite some base line standards for entry level yoga teachers. However, neither of these organizations have any jurisdictional or legal authority to protect the public from harmful practices.

It may be time for a new registry without such limiting standards. This would essentially be the same voluntary registry, without a credentialing process and no fees.

If the goal of the yoga community is to move toward more standards and licensure, in order to protect the public, that is a different issue. Then we can look at the licensed massage programs for guidance. Registry will not have the enforcing capabilities to protect the public from harm. It is voluntary and not required.

I feel that YA and IAYT are overstepping their mission when they move toward regulating our industry, especially since the leaders lack credentials that meet their own standards.

Please respectfully comment or share your ideas below. ~ ed.

This is one of my favorite blogs I stumbled on, researching this subject.

Relephant Links:

What Exactly Does Yoga Alliance Do?

Yoga Alliance CEO Richard Karpel Answers Hard-Hitting Questions about Yogaglo Patent Controversy.

Yoga Confusion: Systems, Styles, Certifications…What Do They All Mean?


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Apprentice Editor: Kim Haas / Editor: Waylon

Photo: Wikipedia Commons




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Kirstie Segarra