Government regulation of yoga teacher training programs
Yes, you read the headline correctly. State governments are starting to impose regulations on yoga teacher training programs. Since these programs are similar to other "vocational instruction" programs (e.g., truck driving, hair styling) states feel justified in charging licensing fees to operate.
What does this mean? CASHOLA. A New York Times article published today goes into detail about which states are cracking the regulatory whip. New York, Michigan, Wisconsin and Virginia are mentioned as having threatened closures if studios do not file paperwork and pay up.
In this recessionary environment states are searching for new revenue sources. And imposing fees on studios is low hanging fruit. And just how are officials figuring out which studios to target? An online registry of yoga studios that was created nearly 10 years ago by the Yoga Alliance lists over a thousand studios that meet minimum standards set by the non-profit group. It is like handing over a qualified email list to a spammer -- jackpot!
Those who bristle at the idea of regulation maintain that yoga is about freedom, spirituality and personal growth and that any sort of regulation or licensing requirement is an affront to the founding principles of the practice. While I'm not sure how I feel about mandatory licensing, I do believe that yoga is VERY much an industry and one that makes a lot of money...via clothes, teacher training, nutritional products etc.
The so-called "purists" also have thumbed their noses at franchise style yoga operations like Bikram, CorePower and YogaWorks. These "companies" provide a HUGE benefit to traveling yogis--they can maintain their practices even when away from home. Athletic-Minded Traveler lists these yoga studios and others for the 100+ cities we cover. By standardizing a practice and replicating it, these studios are self-regulated--by capitalism! Expansion requires a successful formula and for yoga that means excellent instruction.
Bikram was a genius. He found something that worked and capitalized on it. According to Bikram lore, it was all done to help as many people as possible. And if a net benefit of his effort is that it also makes money, what is wrong with that? He was the pioneer. Others have followed. And we all benefit.