Weak credentialing is hurting yoga

(Part two of a five-part series on the yoga industry.  You can read part one here.) 

“The world doesn’t need more yoga teachers, it needs better yoga teachers.”

– Kim McNeil

The yoga profession is unregulated.  For one reason or another, the yoga profession has never burdened itself with petitioning the government of any Canadian province or territory to establish protective legislation.  Unlike massage therapy, which did just that in Ontario in 1919, we yoga professionals seem happy with the status quo.  The status quo in the yoga world is the wild west.  With few exceptions, like the International Association of Yoga Therapists, under which I’m certified, and Yoga Alliance, under which I’m not, there aren’t many organizations with the mandate to regulate teachers.  It’s my opinion we should hold yoga instructors to the same standards as we do other complementary health care providers.

Training as a business

Education is a business.  Universities, colleges, and technical schools are in the business of selling education; the same goes for yoga studios.  Yoga teacher training programs (TTP) normally exist as the bread and butter of a studio’s bottom line.  A studio would be hard-pressed to post a profit without offering a certification program.  This leads to unregulated programs pumping out graduates at breakneck speed.  The result is a saturated market of teachers certified with a mish-mash of credentials.

I could certify anyone as a yoga teacher by signing off on a dinner napkin.

In all fairness, reputations in the yoga community count for something.  Credentialing is self-regulated.  If a fresh teacher suddenly started offering a TTP, word would get around.  Those credentials would hold less clout in the community.  With no one objectively evaluating certifications, however, there’s nothing stopping someone from calling themselves a teacher.

Yoga is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.

One yoga teacher may have taken a two-year-long program.  In contrast, another instructor could have travelled to an exotic location to do a month-long intensive.  The end result is a smorgasbord of instructor experience.

The wrong focus

Credentialing is an obsession with teachers.  For example, instead of putting their time and energy into gaining experience teaching students, they would rather focus on obtaining 500, 800, and 1000+ hour certifications.  Some instructors also claim expertise in an area after having only done a weekend course.  I’ve been privy to both situations.

I ask you: where is our integrity? How safe is this for the student? 

I have grappled with my role in the yoga industry for some time. If I’m being honest, I feel ashamed to be apart of it.  On the brighter side, there are many well-trained teachers who are working hard to change the face of yoga.  We owe it to ourselves, our industry, and the public to hold ourselves to a higher standard when it comes to yoga credentialing.


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