Yoga Alliance Approved, My Ass

Another gem from my friend J. Brown of the Abhyasa Yoga Center

Flipping through the catalog for a big name yoga and retreat center, I was shocked to notice that they advertised their yoga teacher training programs as “Yoga Alliance Approved.” Misrepresentations like this are the dirty little secret of the yoga industry. No one really wants to admit there is no accreditation for Yoga.
Anyone who claims to be “approved,” “certified” or “licensed” by the YA is either grossly uninformed or disingenuous. The YA maintains a registry of yoga teachers and training programs. In filling out the paperwork and paying the fees, yoga teachers and training programs purport to follow a vague set of curriculum guidelines that are posted on the YA website and assume a service mark of RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) or RYS (Registered Yoga School.)

What no one ever seems to acknowledge or mention is that the YA provides no oversight whatsoever. No one checks to see if anyone is actually doing what they say. Everyone is on the “honor” system. Consequently, the registry amounts to a digital rubber stamp or paid advertising. Not to mention, the YA does not disclose what they do with the money they collect from the Yoga community.

Even if everyone is being true to their word, referring to the YA guidelines as “standards” is quite a stretch. For example, being registered at the 200 hr level is said to have 20 hours of yoga philosophy. Generally, this entails a cursory reading of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s and a written test, kind of like reading the chapter and answering the summary questions in my 9th grade social studies class…

Read the rest here…

69 thoughts on “Yoga Alliance Approved, My Ass”

  1. Hi Linda, do you know svyasa in Bangalore, India? I am planning to become an yoga instructor . currently I am doing one month course in svyasa Bangalore. I want to do the 3 years degree program so I can go to Singapore or south Korea to teach yoga. Do you think I should sign up for the 3 year course? Or should I just take up yoga alliance certification.. Thanks

  2. Hi guys, I am aware that YA certification is not really the best way to become a yoga instructor after reading the post and comments. Can anyone give me a pointer about the path to become a yoga teacher? I am in my twenties and didn’t attend any college/uni.. I would like to spend 1 to 2 years learning yoga in India so I can teach yoga in Singapore or south Korea..

  3. I am also going to be new to the world of teaching yoga. After training, I refuse to pay for some meaningless piece of paper churned out by a money-making mill calling themselves some sort of authority or registry of “approved” instructors.

    How does one prove or show proficiency in ability to teach, without this bogus certificate? Do you simply apply for instructor jobs and demonstrate your skill and what you know to the person hiring you?

    I seem to be looking for the same type of information or answers as SRX360 or Danielle Giles.

  4. “…demonstrate your skill and what you know to the person hiring you…” is how it should ideally work, but some potential employers will not even let you in the door to audition without the YA mark after your name. I think it’s lazy and stupid, but from their perspective, it’s simply letting someone else do the pre-screening on their behalf.

  5. Christine, no body has answers, the world is making yoga into a profit making machine.
    We advice yogis who want to progress to try a true indian experience, i.e. the Gurukul system.
    We were yoga alliance USA registered teachers and schools until we realised the same as you guys, “what the hell are we paying for”
    standards, pre-screening, is utter nonsense and there are no control mechanisms to audit these processes.
    Hence starting our own alliance which is free for all yogis to be part of, to share their knowledge, experience, love and passion for Yoga.

  6. I just registered for YA but after reading this may not renew. You don’t need YA to expand your knowledge. I am 200 hr certified through YogaFit and believe I receive excellent traning and education from them. But I still attend many workshops and trainings at area Yoga schools, read many books to learn more about the philosophy of yoga, watch YouTube videos for new ways to do postures, and subscribe to Yoga Journal..a wealth of information. All this in order to keep learning so I can give my students the best instruction I can.

  7. Hey Steve I’m thankful for your more optimistic comment amongst the strong, and apparently duly noted, criticism of YA. I’m wondering if you have any suggestions for where one may begin becoming certified as a yoga teacher, given the present circumstances? If not through YA, then through what organization? Thank you for your time. Definitely open for comments from anyone else.

    With Metta

  8. Hello Clarity- I’m a yoga teacher and journalist writing on the subject of regulation in yoga, specifically for a Canadian audience. I’d love to speak with you about this. Reach out if you are interested-

  9. I am from Guatemala and I did pay my YA certification. I feel kind of scammed. I had been practicing for about 5 years when I felt worthy of APPLYING to a Teacher Training at a YA certified school. I taught they were gonna ask questions like “do you already know how to do arm balances, do you have a proper alignment of the positions, etc..” or at least check out my practice to see if I was already worthy of teaching. They just wanted to see if I was able to pay. Although I loved my training, and I did learned about philosophy and the yoga sutras, almost all of my yoga classmates did not know how to even do something as important as a proper chaturanga dandasana. I do not want to sound egocentric, but I think these regulations should be done. It should not be about the money, who is able to pay. I paid a ridiculous amount of money (for a third world country) which took me years to save. Thank God I had this opportunity, but I know other amazing yogis and yoguinis who had been practicing for years and are seriously committed to yoga, its philosophy, and are advanced practitioners who will never gonna be able to pay for this.

  10. I am so glad I found this conversation. I have been successfully running my own studio for 5 years with no membership with yoga alliance and no need for it. I did a 200hr training course after practicing for 20 years so I could put a certificate on the wall. The training was very professional and very clinical and gave me a wonderful base to spring from. I continue with my own education because yoga is about becoming the best person you can be. In a few weeks I am doing a 300hr training course because I always want to learn more.
    I am leaving my students to take classes while I am away, and I started looking into making a course to formally give them the credentials.
    I see clearly now that so long as I train them to a high standard and they are committed, there is no need for a rubber stamp on their certificate from Yoga Alliance. I will determine if they are competent or not to be able to teach in my studio. 3 or 4 years of practice gives alot more experience than a person who has done a 4 week training course in India and returns calling themselves a yoga teacher while failing to uphold the moral codes of the yamas and nyamas in their life.

  11. Yoga Alliance continues to amass a fortune and hasn’t disclosed their financial statements or audit results since 2015. So much for transparency! It’s also very interesting to note that they no longer have a treasurer on the Board – looks like a case of the inmates running the asylum!

  12. This article really speaks to me. I was inappropriately touched by the owner of the studio I worked for. After leaving the studio and replaying the incident in my head several times over the next few years, I finally decided to contact yoga alliance and try to file a complaint about this man and all of the other women he’d been harrassing. They said they couldn’t do anything about it and directed me to contact local law enforcement. Why is this the case? Why then are we giving them all of our money and pretending to be part of some kind of governing body or organization that cannot uphold any standards for the profession. He still runs the studio to this day.

  13. What’s the latest on this subject? I’m very new to yoga and am considering a 200 hour training from a studio not YA. Is there a downside? Are you able to be accredited in further trainings if your 200 isn’t with a YA school?

  14. What about teachers who say they’re E-RYT and RYT and aren’t? I personally know teachers who do this!! I don’t think our students, you know; the people we serve, care at all about a designation. So who are they trying to impress?

  15. First of all most “licensures” and “certifications “ are purely fee charging money making scams whether it’s yoga or any field. That being said I do think it is keeping with the ethical philosophy of yoga itself that one be a diligent student ,a yogi devotee, and study and practice under the tutelage of a yogi master and be constantly learning and evolving as a yogi. Furthermore, just think about it… how can YA or any other “agency” codify thousands of years of philosophy and practice into a mere 200 hrs that “they” say you must be compliant with? It’s kinda absurd and humorous actually ?

  16. It’s very disappointing to see how yoga has been a huge scam/money maker by westerners. I want to do a formation, but i am not inspired by taking some kinda “certification” training, recognized by the YA. I’m all about structure, absolutely, but not when it’s money making…

    Does anyone have experience with teaching yoga without having a YA approved certificate?
    I see you one can take 200hr YTT, without it being “approved” by the YA.
    I truly don’t care for this YA organization, but I do wanna engage into a teaching training.

  17. Thank you for this article that i found on Linkedin.
    I’d be interested to hear what yoga Alliance has to say about this…
    Yoga seams to be all about profit lately isn’t it ?

  18. I sincerely hope you do. I too am struggling with this now as I begin the journey of hosting my fist yoga teacher training. I do not want to advertise it as yoga alliance. I fear it will put my students and trainees at a disadvantage when looking for jobs but I want to stop feeding the machine as it were.

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