By Diane Bruni
My yoga teacher training program is NOT certified by the Yoga Alliance. And I’m okay with that. In fact, I resist the Yoga Alliance, and consider it a useless organization that charges yoga studios for a certification that means almost nothing.
I was a member of Yoga Alliance for many years, as a co-owner of Downward Dog. We had avoided doing so for many years, but as more and more studios signed up for Yoga Alliance, we felt pressure to be certified, since graduates of our teacher training program could not apply for membership in the Yoga Alliance unless the studio where they trained was registered.
We spent months of preparing for certification. We paid our fees. Every year we were sent reminders to pay the renewal fees. After a few years, I realized that Yoga Alliance had never followed up to confirm that we were teaching what we had described. No studio owner I knew had ever been called or contacted by the Yoga Alliance, except when the time came to pay dues.
I believe that certification by the Yoga Alliance does absolutely nothing to ensure that teachers are well trained or that students are learning yoga.
I know many studio owners who quietly express similar feelings to mine, but they feel stuck by public misconception about the Yoga Alliance’s role in the industry. Most studio owners and teachers are unwilling to talk publicly about the fact that yoga is completely unregulated. The Yoga Alliance is really just a form of advertising, since the only benefit offered by certification is listing on the Yoga Alliance online teacher and studio registry.
Teachers I respect, such as Richard Freeman, as well as many teachers in the Iygengar tradition, have opted out. A few brave teachers have spoken out about this issue online. Try Googling “Yoga Alliance scam” and find a long list of links that describe how the Yoga Alliance takes money from yoga studios, but does nothing to protect students.
I am at a stage in my life where speaking my truth is more important than the bottom line. I hope that more studio owners will begin to question the status quo and have the courage to say NO to the Yoga Alliance.