The Yoga Alliance comes to Texas
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.