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The Yoga Alliance comes to Texas

July 29, 2010

The landscape  in Texas has changed in regard to yoga teacher training thanks to the Texas Workforce Commission.

The TWC has started to attempt to regulate teacher training programs  by sending out cease and desist letters  to the studios they determine are holding vocational classes.  Although these classes are obviously avocational, some people do go on to teach part-time and become poor yoga teachers in their own right. Of course there are some large training schools who have huge teacher training programs, and multiple large yoga studio locations, that create careers for their graduates.

While I was building my new yoga studio location, I created a yoga teacher training program. This is no small feat, you have to do quite a bit of research, you have to follow the guidelines of Yoga Alliance if you want to be approved by them. The guidelines of YA teacher training programs are not only cryptic and a little constrictive but they’re also an opportunity to grow your self as a yoga teacher. Just creating a teacher training program has been in them incredible challenge for me and such a joy. I learned a great deal and I’ll never forget when I got my letter in the mail saying that my 200 hours and 500 hours teacher training programs had been approved! I was thrilled!

Just about the time that my new studio opened  I received my TWC letter regarding teacher training programs. Since I had yet to even advertise my program beyond what was on my website, it was curious to me how I came to the attention of the TWC. It was later that we found out that many schools were targeted because of their YA certification! To be so betrayed!

My program was approved by YA which is exactly why my program was targeted for regulation!? What a disappointment, but with the YA approved schools database being public and on the web- I can’t imagine why Texas would not start there.

I am heartbroken! All of my work and my beautiful yoga teacher training program is still sitting in the boxes. I have yet to be able to start my  200 hour and 500 hour classes because of these regulations. I’ve been lucky enough to work with Attorney Willie Collins through the Texas Yoga Association toward defending Texans right to train others to teach yoga. Mr. Collins was able to get several yoga studios in Houston and in Texas exempt. This exemption is only that we may teach our programs as long as it is not a teacher training program. These classes may be advanced classes, or continuing yoga study classes, but these are not teacher training classes. If they are teacher training classes that are vocational classes and according to the state of Texas they must be regulated and taxed.

So the bottom line is:  if I don’t want to be regulated and taxed I cannot do a teacher training program.

Here’s the problem:  If my students are not attending my Yoga Alliance approved teacher training program then my students are not going to be approved for registration in the YA. Regardless of the perceived legitimacy or power that YA has,  is still the only cross lineage registry that we currently have in the yoga community. While my own experience with YA has been pretty pain-free, I do find it a bit cumbersome and sticky to get through their requirements. (However none of this really matters if my yoga teacher training program is no longer a teacher training program. Then my only focus with the YA becomes maintaining my own registration and my own continuing education.)

Two weeks ago I called Willie Collins about my frustration. I asked Willie what am I to do with all this work? How in the world am I going to offer these advanced yoga classes to my students now with the Texas Workforce changes?  Yoga Alliance is not the only way, or so you may think. The truth is, it is so prevalent now that students who want to practice yoga or who want to further their knowledge go to Yoga Alliance looking for a qualified teacher. I have supported you the YA since I received my first certification in 2000. I was YA registered in 2001. I have encouraged every young yoga teacher that I know to register with Yoga Alliance. I have always felt like it was important, and it mattered.  Now I’m just confused.

My conversation with Willie Collins about YA went like most of my conversations with Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins is kind, funny ,understanding and  very compassionate toward yoga’s plight. He practices hatha yoga  So he has a special soft place in his heart for the studios and teachers.  As a result of our phone call Mr. Collins decided to reach out to John Matthews the President of Yoga Alliance.

After a couple of phone calls John Matthews has agreed to come to Texas and talk to Texas yoga teachers about this new regulation in Texas. I will attend this meeting. As much as I love the state of Texas, I do not think they know a thing about yoga, and I’d like for them to butt out.  However YA- this is your baby. You wanted to bring yoga teachers together with their students and help yoga be better.

Yoga Alliance, you have had almost a decade of my support  and my hope is you will help Texas yoga studios find a way to extend our knowledge to others and allow them to do the same, all the while taking the Yoga Alliance registration with them.  It’s what you are going to have to do, otherwise you have seen the last  of my “Registered Yoga School” fees.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. July 29, 2010 1:36 pm

    Wow, I had no idea about all of this and I haven’t heard of anything similar going on in Illinois. What a bunch of needless hurdles and red tape! Good luck working it all out : )

  2. August 17, 2010 12:38 pm

    I think more and more people are hearing about this issue and wanting to do something about it. It hasn’t reached the doors of our California studios…YET! I’m sure it’s on its way, considering how badly the state of California needs tax money right now. If they can find one more thing to drain they will. I’d love to hear any follow up you have to this post and your interaction with the president of YA! Thanks!

  3. September 17, 2010 12:54 pm

    What came from the meeting with the Yoga Alliance? I am interested to find out more.

    Cindy

    • September 20, 2010 1:12 pm

      The president of yoga alliance came to Texas, and did have the meeting. He assured us that yoga alliance was looking to help and to make changes. He did not however indicate much about what those changes might be. He said that he was going to present some ideas to his board, but did not want to reveal those things before the board met. So I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

  4. September 20, 2010 1:05 pm

    yogadarla, your experience is going to become pretty standard pretty soon.

    and beckyoga, don’t be fooled by the “never in California” thing – we may be America’s yoga mecca (sorry for mixing traditions and metaphors) but as you observe, the state needs bucks, they’ll find a way to classify yoga training so that it can be regulated.

    right now, it’s up to yoga to define and regulate itself. if we fail to do so in a convincing manner and with a unified voice, yoga will become one more *career path* in our increasingly corporate state – and as such, it will fall directly into the laps of corporate training programs, like the very scary *Pure Yoga* of NYC and its connection to the Equinox Fitness.

    It is up to the yoga community to link up with the higher education community – only in this way can we maintain our right to teach and learn yoga responsibly, the way we want to – without government regulation/taxation and corporate co-option.

    Apologies for the fiery post, but I think the signs are clear – it’s now or never. Check out either my blog or ‘its all yoga baby’ for Vancouver’s attempt to grapple with these issues.

    Thanks and namaste!

    • September 20, 2010 1:16 pm

      I’m not sure how I feel about this, lately I’ve noticed the climate here in Houston has become more and more about the “power-hungry” local teachers who are organizing against regulation. The I even made a donation to the cause, and found out just recently (six months later) that the money had yet to be given to the lobbyists.

      I can tell you honestly this is shaken my confidence in the ability of the community to unite. To me it just looks like the same thing as in all political situations and those who aspire to have some sort of power. Specifically here in Houston, it’s shameful how one person represents themselves as leading the charge- and truly is just an embarrassment to all of us.

  5. October 22, 2010 3:26 am

    Nice to know that more number of yoga teachers are being approved in Texas now. Yoga workshops Texas are thriving because of this and it is good news to all those who practice yoga.

    • October 22, 2010 7:20 am

      approved? i am not sure what you mean? i do see some schools are getting approved by the state of TX. But what i also see is the “leader” of the opposition completely going against the state and still holding “teacher training” at her studio with out regard for others and their exempt status. Houston really needs to wake up and smell the coffee. The one you have allowed to “run the show” is doing only for her own benefit and to soothe her ego. it’s absolutely disgusting.

  6. September 25, 2010 5:47 pm

    Texas is NOT closing yoga studios. Texas is attempting to gain money from Teacher Training programs. There is a huge difference.

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