On June 2, 2019, the Yoga Alliance announced a change in its current certification standards. This is a big deal for the industry, as it will force change from schools and teachers.
Some of us have seen this coming, as for years, there’s been a lot of disdain for the Yoga Alliance as a “depthless” certification that offers no real value to students or teachers. As the industry explodes in popularity, it has felt like these changes have been long overdue.
We understand that the intention behind this shift is to reinforce the Yoga studies to train Lead Teachers by an all comprehensive curriculum and unified principals, and moreover, take care of the student as it is the most vulnerable party within the industry.
Yoga Alliance has been the major certifying body worldwide since 1999. Their job is to set standards for Yoga Education and Yoga Teachers to understand to some extent the level of aspiring yogis and their abilities to teach. The registration until today has been voluntary, however, it has grown worldwide in such a way that evolved into a MUST-HAVE in the professional Yoga industry.
The yoga alliance sent out an email to all it’s members on June 2 notifying the industry that they are proceeding with some changes.
Whether you are a registered Yoga school, willing to register your school or a Yoga teacher aware of the importance of Yoga Alliance in the modern Yoga world, listen attentively because there might be notable changes for you to implement.
Fortunately, Yoga Alliance recognized that these changes are substantial and will allow all schools and teachers more than 24 months to adapt. All the new certification standards must be implemented by February 2022.
The changes will begin with the foundational teacher training program, (RYS 200), as is the most common and widely held school credential. The changes are imminent. From June 2019, the shift will start to take place and schools would have to renew these standards maximum by the end of 2021.
As a Registered Yoga Teacher 200, and being part of one of the leaders' schools offering teacher training in Bali, I know these changes are ready to affect us. As teachers, the studentship approach is the most valuable on our spiritual journey, and we are in continuous research for courses to help us grow and improve our skills, but we don’t necessarily have the money or the time to engage in studies all the time.
The foundational 200 hours course boomed, probably due to its accessibility, and both young and adults started participating in it, changing many people's lives, but also generating an astounding amount of non-prepared ‘yoga teachers’ around the globe.
THE CHANGING PROCESS
“83% of the Yoga Professionals were interested in updating the teacher training standards”
From what we can tell, it seems the Yoga Alliance was extremely diligent in preparing and educating themselves about necessary changes. They conducted a Standards Review Project which took place over the course of 18 months to survey the industry before they made any adjustments. It was very clear that the Yoga alliance was careful with how they implemented and announced these changes, as they had had strong implications on the entire yoga community, including:
Yoga Teacher Trainers
Studio/School Owners and Managers
Yogis (Students or practitioners only)
The survey reached over 12,000 people, from more than 90 countries, all genders and ages, members and non-members of the Yoga Alliance.
After more than 18 months of research, feedback, community conversations and group meetings, some conclusions have been reached.
Let’s take a look at these changes…
CHANGES REGARDING SCHOOLS
LAUNCH OF A NEW APPLICATION PROCESS 200 RYS (Beginning February 2020)
Aspiring Registered Yoga Schools (RYS) will request membership in a new format. This in-depth application will be including the submission of a bunch of components such as letters of intent, training materials, outlines of the assessment methods, and general info about the trainer, trainee ratio and trainee prerequisites.
The school will pay an application fee of $400 while submitting these documents.
Credentialing Advisors will be supporting the process if any question or doubt arises to provide clarifications when needed
The application will be reviewed thoroughly by a credentialng advisor and if everything meets the new standards, the school will be accepted into the Yoga Alliance. Once accepted, a credentialing fee of $240 will be required, which will be renewed automatically each year. Once a period of three years is over, a process of re-credentialing will start to make sure the school still meets or exceeds the YA standards. The total initial cost to become a 200 Registered Yoga School will be $640.
In case the application doesn’t go through, the school has the chance to correct the documents and resubmit the application.
COMMON CORE CURRICULUM (by February 2022)
To ensure every yoga teacher acquires high-quality knowledge and skills, the 200 hours syllabus has been upgraded. With the new RYS 200 standards, all schools will share a common core curriculum.
Yoga Alliance will not give a sample to see how the new curriculum must look like, so schools will have to do their best to fit the new requirements into their actualized course.
Registered Yoga Schools will have to design a course with 100% (200 hours) of classroom hours.
We understand classroom hours as the hours spent in the presence of the faculty or learning from the material provided by the school (videos, etc)
The classroom hours do not include time spent completing assignments or taking yoga classes. The Online format has been now accepted, and up to 40 classroom hours may now be done online (from the categories Anatomy & Physiology and Yoga Humanities).
Educational hours will be divided into 4 different categories and 13 competencies. Some categories have been condensed and renamed.
Categories & Competencies
- Techniques, Training, and practice: consisting of Asana, Pranayama & Subtle Body and Meditation.
- Anatomy & Physiology and Biomechanics (20 of the 30 hours may be delivered online)
- Yoga Humanities: including Yoga Philosophy, Ethics and Lifestyle (20 of the 30 hours can be delivered online)
- Professional essentials: what before was only Teaching Methodology, now will also contain Professional Development and Practicum. (up to 15 hours of the 65 hours can be dedicated to Electives)
Elective hours can be used to bring other holistic therapies into the training such as Reiki, Thai massage, Ayurveda, or give the opportunity to the schools to immerse their students into whatever the specific message their lineage has to give.
LEAD TRAINER REQUIREMENTS (Beginning in February 2022)
One of the biggest changes is the fact that 150 hours from a total of 200 hours MUST be delivered by a Lead Trainer holding the E-RYT 500. This change ensures that the students coming to learn how to teach are supported and guided by an experienced Yoga trainer. We all know that a basic course of 200 hours (with no previous background in Yoga) cannot prepare a Yogi to lead other aspiring teachers.
So in which position does this leave us, teachers?
Most of us didn’t even know about the existence of an E-RYT 500. Actually, you might have just registered as a Yoga Teacher because your school advised you to do so in order to gain more freedom and credibility while teaching worldwide.
The E-RYT 500 credential represents that you have done your 500 hours teacher training course (200+300h or 500h), and in addition, you must have taught at least 2,000 hours of Yoga.
That means that MORE teachers will have to go through MORE education if they want to be the Lead Trainers of the Teacher Training courses.
What takes us back to the beginning of this article; As teachers, we are always looking forward to upgrade our skills and gather more knowledge.
We shall choose to utilize this situation to grow and become the best version of ourselves, trusting in a system that seems to focus on giving better education to the students. In the end, this is taking us to the starting point, the humble beginning that shapes the character and humbles the Ego.
CHANGES REGARDING TEACHERS
So as we accept this idea, regardless of the fact that Yoga has never been audited before, we enter this new reality with a positive mind. I know you are thinking that again the fish it’s being asked to climb the mountain and the tortoise to run a marathon.
But let’s be honest, there is some basic knowledge that we, as teachers, MUST have, and there is still so much work that can be done.
NOBODY is saying you cannot teach a Yoga class. You can still teach in a RYS holding the 200 hours certificate or and even teach a YTT; but not as the Lead Teacher.
Remember that Yoga Alliance membership is NOT MANDATORY, so you can even teach with no certificate at all (actually, many respected Gurus and Teachers around the world have nothing to do with the organization and still offer great teachings)
This new RYS standards reinforce the need to keep studying to get the best of you in the pathway of the Mastery of Yoga. Some of us have seen how the YTTC creates such an impact, that upon graduation you want to do nothing in life besides Yoga. And the last statement includes jumping into Yoga as a livelihood hastily.
“The professional track includes the RYT 500 credential, which can be obtained upon successful graduation from an RYS 300 or RYS 500. It might include upgrading to E-RYT 200 or E-RYT 500 status based on a number of hours taught.”
If you are already a Registered Yoga Teacher, you will still remain a RYT. You do not need to go again through a 200 hours program.
If you haven't registered yet, as long as your yoga school was a Registered Yoga School 200 when you graduated, you will be still eligible to join Yoga Alliance as a RYT 200.
ETHICAL COMMITMENT (Beginning February 2020)
Being a woman and considering that most of the Yoga teachers are men, (this has already quite taken a shift) I was waiting for this to happen: some kind of regulation to prevent inappropriate behaviors in the Yoga Industry.
Yogis have stood up against inappropriate behaviors from Gurus, Teachers or students all over the world. Forasmuch as Yoga is a practice to enhance peace of mind, the frequency in which sexual abuse has been heightened during the last years is disturbing. Fortunately, and perhaps as a result of having now tools like social media to express the most recondite feelings, everyone started speaking up. The movement metoo, a movement against sexual harassment, has helped opening eyes about events happening in some individuals yoga classes.
A very controversial case that affected many Yogis within the worldwide Yoga community was the stories coming to light about the Ashtanga Guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois when some of his students declared receiving offensive adjustments during his classes on an almost daily basis.
I was in Rishikesh while this story was coming into the surface, and just during that time the case of the founder and director of Shiva Yoga Peeth, (a school that was doing really well in Rishikesh) hit the Yogic peace again. He was arrested after accusation statements from different students.
Sexual harassment seems to be a curse that pursues the practice of Yoga.
Others like the creator of Hot Yoga, Bikram Choudhury, faced numerous sexual assault allegations and ended up being arrested too.
In an attempt to avoid this kind of situations, the RYT credential will include an Ethical Commitment in which old and new registered members will have to agree to. To support members stick into these practices, Yoga Alliance will provide an online course on Equity in Yoga for 10 CE credits, committing to continuing education credits over 3 years. This is an agreement to observe discipline and habits including:
Scope of Practice
Code of Conduct
Responsibility to Equity in Yoga: Defining Equity as the quality of being fair and impartial, we believe that the message Yoga Alliance is trying to spread is a Yoga practice available for all, suitable for all, and respectful with all.
In short, the different changes taking place can be concentrated into:
- A common core syllabus for the 200 hours course, based on 100% classroom hours, and the implementation of the online format (maximum 40 hours)
- New design and baptism of the 4 categories and thirteen competencies, emphasizing key learning goals and highlighting desired results
A requirement for the Registered Yoga Schools to determine if the trainees are ready to become certified as teachers, taking into account knowledge, skills and performance.
Creating Lead Trainers that are highly skilled and trained with an E-RYT 500, and that must deliver 75% of the training.
CHANGES COMING SOON FOR THE 300-500 RYS
STAY TUNED. This will not be all. Changes regarding the RYS 300-500 program will be announced during next summer (2020), and new applicants will begin submitting their request under these new standards from February 2021.