Birth is not only about making babies. It’s about making mothers; strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and believe in their inner strength
— Barbara Katz Rothman

Statement on Divesment from the Yoga Alliance

We deeply object to the Yoga Alliance. The Bhakti Yoga Movement Center (formerly The Bhaktishop) has dissolved our relationship with the Yoga Alliance and their registration service as of 2019. I had personally been a member of YA since 1999, and found absolutely no utility to the entity of the Yoga Alliance and its "governing body" over these 13+ years as a registered school, other than in name only. I am deeply concerned that they lack ethical oversight, compliance enforcement or accountability protocol for their schools or teachers, as well as their business-based way of furthering the appropriation of the teachings of yoga from their source by cheapening "standards" for yoga teachers so they can make money. Thus we do not feel they represent a significant source of credibility in the teaching of yoga. I am concerned about their effect on the seperation of yoga from its roots and origins as an indigenous Indian tradition by way of watering down any requirements and qualifications that they deem necessary for teaching these practices.

According to the Yoga Alliance, no specific curriculum is required, nor is there any required assessment of a registered teacher’s skill. Ever. And there are no known plans to change that. It is this massive omission that in part has gotten us where we are with modern yoga yoga right now-- trainings with arbitrary curriculum being taught to prospective teachers who don’t know any better by underqualified teachers that cannot answer basic questions about yoga history, philosophy or lineage; this situation was borne of and is propelled forward by Yoga Alliance.

There is always the question: How do you regulate yoga? It has always been a wild practice, and it appears in many different forms through many different traditions and lineages. Yoga Alliance simply requires that a certain number of hours be spent covering each of five areas of study that they designate as important, with no specificity given on how to fill those hours, nor any follow-up on whether or not a school, once registered, ever actually sticks to that curriculum. As listed on their website, a registered 200-hour training (the level that 85% of their 100K+ registered yoga teachers hold) must include 100 hours of yoga practice (whatever that means; we assume it means asana), 25 hours of teaching methodology, 20 hours of anatomy, 30 hours of philosophy and ethics, and 10 hours of practice teaching. Any poortion of any of these hours can be taken online or through books, with no accountability. And, the content of each area of study is left up to the school and once submitted (in the loosest possible terms, believe me, these applications have no oversight) that is the last you hear of them except to tell you that your dues are up and you have to pay them fees again for another year. As a school with some source tradition connections, extremely high integrity, a high bar and a threshold of 300+ hours of entry-level Foundational training (which still is not enough!) we have always insisted on more than 200 hours in our basic training, a focus on safety, equity/inclusion, and a strong basis in the lineage and philosophy of yoga. We also require ongoing continuing education and advanced study for our teachers rather than simply the easily-bought ERYT500 stamp from the YA.

We realize that this may be controversial, and will cost us some potential trainees/students, but as they are basically the wikipedia of yoga, simply an online registration body/directory and have offered little else since their inception, they continue to offer nothing other than a logo after one's name or school with no real follow-through or follow up on curriculum, compliance enforcement of standards, ethics and beyond. But someone, somewhere, has to break the iron fist that this organization has around the throats of yoga, and not simply go along with them simply because "they are the only thing available." There are many schools that are also divesting across the U.S. and beyond.

Here is a very well-stated piece on leaving Yoga Alliance by Josh Schrei, if you are interested in another angle on this.

Here is another excellent piece on "metaregulators" like Yoga Alliance, from across the pond: "Practitioners who (in lieu of having an identifiable commercial product to sell) may join a metaregulator and become part of the metaregulator's income-generating inventory, touting the metaregulator's membership insignia they become a product of the metaregulator, no matter what the training style, individual experience or knowledge gains they may offer as human beings."

We work hard to make this program an embodiment of integrity, ethics and high teaching standards, as well as respect for the tradition. If you have any questions about or wish to comment on how this affects you and your study here, please do be in touch at weloveyou@thebhaktishop.com

All of that is to say that when you finish your study here by Fall of 2019, you will receive a certificate from us stating your prenatal study happened here and was over 85 hours of live, in-person study and contact time with teachers. You may do whatever you wish with it. Contact me at weloveyou@thebhaktishop.com with your concerns or questions.