Yoga Alliance

Confusion over the role of Yoga Alliance is prevalent among yoga students and teachers alike.  Yoga Alliance does not certify teachers – it is a registry only.  Registration signifies that a teacher has completed a certain number of hours of study (200 or 500) through a yoga school whose curriculum is approved by Yoga Alliance.  Neither the quality of the training program nor the progress made by the trainee is relevant to registration.  No final test or proof of competence is required.  In addition to the RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) 200 and RYT 500 designations, a teacher can also be classified as an E-RYT (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher) 200 by teaching for 2 years and 1000 hours, or as an E-RYT 500 by teaching for 4 years and 2000 hours.  Some teachers like to add T-RYT by their name, but it’s repetitive.  All E-RYTs are also T-RYTs, meaning they can instruct teacher training.

Certification is a completely different issue, and is awarded at the discretion of the yoga school or, in some cases, by the particular style or lineage of yoga (e.g. Anusara or Iyengar).  Many small yoga studios automatically award certification to all 200 hour graduates.  I am certified through YogaWorks, which involves a minimum of 500 hours of study through YogaWorks, followed by a rigorous written and practical exam with a low pass rate.  In a style such as Iyengar yoga, the certification process is even more time-consuming and grueling.

Personally, I believe that Yoga Alliance does more harm than good.  The problem isn’t with setting standards – it’s with setting them so low.  A yoga school doesn’t have to be any good to be registered with Yoga Alliance – it just needs to provide a curriculum with a certain number of hours in each of several categories.  As far as I know, Yoga Alliance never actually checks compliance.  The same is true for individual teachers – Yoga Alliance registers teachers based on the information they provide, without checking the facts.  I personally know of a few instances where teachers lied on their applications, and Yoga Alliance was none the wiser.  Even if the registration is legitimate, it doesn’t indicate quality, and provides a false sense of security for students.  Yoga Alliance registration means that a teacher completed a program more substantial than a weekend training or mail-order program, but that’s it.  And there are perfectly good teachers out there who’ve never registered, but are highly competent nonetheless.

In the interest of full disclosure – I’m registered with Yoga Alliance at the highest level – R-RYT 500.  But if you want to see what matters, check my resume.

For more information, visit YogaDork here or here for recent discussions of the yoga community’s opinions toward Yoga Alliance.

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