A letter from the President and CEO of Yoga Alliance and the Yoga Alliance Foundation

Dear Yoga Alliance Members,

In 1999, Yoga Alliance (YA) was founded to ensure and preserve the quality of yoga education and practice. At that time – and for many years to come – YA’s efforts to do this focused largely on establishing and disseminating a shared baseline of standards for the training of yoga teachers, regardless of yoga lineage or tradition, and on maintaining a registry of teachers who trained at schools that met these standards. Nearly 20 years later, I believe that our founding purpose is still sound, and I have heard from so many of you that today’s yoga community still wants and needs that support – as much if not more as in 1999. That said, I also acknowledge that some of the ways in which YA provides that support – including the standards themselves – have remained largely consistent since our inception, therefore having become far-outpaced by the rapid changes of the last 20 years and thus in need of review.

This is why, almost 18 months ago, we started the exploration of our standards to see what needed to evolve within an evolving world.  Over the course of this time, we have heard a few themes come through from the community, loud and clear:

  • Yoga Alliance’s commitment to ethics and a system of core values should be clear, central, and lived
  • The profession of being a yoga teacher is a lifelong journey of learning, and teachers would like to be able to look to Yoga Alliance for support at every step along that journey
  • The quality of a teacher’s training and students’ safety – which are directly linked – are the community’s co-equal and paramount concerns. When asked to deeply consider what drives quality teacher training and safe teaching, most yoga professionals assert that the root cause is not the number of hours of a teacher training program alone, but rather how those hours are used coupled with the level of experience, expertise, skill, and care of those leading the training program.

In addition, beyond a conversation simply about standards, we heard the following:  the Yoga Alliance membership and the broader yoga community expect YA to “do the hard work” to ensure that its credentials hold value and are “in Integrity.”

These lessons learned came from our work via the Standards Review Project (SRP). I’m excited to share with you the last of several in-depth research and input gathering exercises we undertook via the SRP – the recommendations from “Working Groups” of more than 100 thought leaders who shared with us their guidance on eight key areas of inquiry within the standards, including Scope of Practice, Inclusion, and Teacher Training Qualifications, among others.

When we look at these expert recommendations placed together with the results of last year’s 12,000+-respondent survey, one of the largest yoga surveys ever conducted of schools, teachers, and practitioners, as well as the feedback gathered from thousands of one-on-one conversations during 2018’s Listening Tour and at yoga festivals and symposia, the “state of play” of the yoga community is truly coming into focus. These papers are housed on YAstandards.com, a site we created dedicated to the findings of the SRP that includes the results of all of these efforts as well a summary for each key area of inquiry of “what rose to the top.”

Later this summer, after this last feedback period comes to a close, I look forward to announcing our decisions regarding updates to our standards as well as the launch of content, tools, and other resources to better support you, our members, throughout your yoga journey as schools and teachers. I also look forward to sharing exciting news with respect to the Yoga Alliance Foundation, which will serve the public interest through increasing the safety, inclusivity, and accessibility of yoga education and yoga overall.

I invite you to read the eight Working Groups’ recommendations, to spend some time on YAstandards.com complete with the results of more than a year’s worth of additional efforts to gather input from the broader yoga community, and to provide any feedback to us via IWantToHelpYA@yogaalliance.org.

Yours in yoga,

Shannon

Shannon Roche
President and CEO,
Yoga Alliance and the Yoga Alliance Foundation