License to Teach (Yoga)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Yoga schools that provide teacher training are now required to get a license. Alison West, director of Yoga Union Teacher Training, discusses how this will affect the industry. Daily News columnist Bill Hammond writes about the law today.


Bill Hammond and Alison West

Comments [29]

reader from CT

I may add that I agree with many of the comments in support of yoga licencing. I believe that there are good intentions that come with wanting to licence yoga teachers. I just am not sure how the knowledge and credibilty of a yoga teacher will be measured.
It often takes many years to understand yoga and the human physiological system enough to teach it effectively.

Nov. 22 2009 03:07 PM
reader from CT

It should be noted that the practice of yoga asana and medical gymanastics, requires a great deal of knowledge of the human physical and anatomical system. The knowledge that is needed to teach yoga can be obtained in many ways.
What will the requirements to become a licensed yoga teacher be? How will this knowledge been measured?
I have read that some have had bad experiences with yoga teachers leading them into injurious poses. Yet, I am guessing that many of these teachers have actually been certified and had gone through a training program. The thing is, is that many yoga teachers are not yet intuitive enough after a short period of study to teach the many different human bodies that may be in their classes. And many yoga practitioners with decades of practice and study behind them who have no "certificate" can certainly be very competant enough.
There are so many variables. So as this idea of licensing yoga teachers arises, it must be asked...if a yoga certification program cannot always guarantee a competant yoga teacher than how will their competancy be measured?

Nov. 22 2009 02:16 PM

I wish everyone would quit calling their "stretching" regimens "Yoga." Please. Just call it "stretching."
And look up the Sanskrit meaning of the word.

Nov. 01 2009 05:00 PM
Cheryl Malone from Southern California

I think licensing to teach Yoga Teachers is a very good idea. I have been practicing yoga for more than forty years and teaching for twenty.

I have seen more than I care to see of studios that are so called certified to conduct Teachers Training; some never ever mention anatomy, let alone teach it. It is very careless to think that you can take someone new to yoga and turn them into a teacher, in 200 hrs.

Oct. 19 2009 05:37 PM
Rebecca Poole from Brooklyn & Manhattan

As a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique(defined by the state of NY as an educational method), I am seeing more and more students who have been injured in yoga classes.

Not every yoga teacher is certified. For example: the acting teacher who has had some yoga and then decides to include some poses in an acting warm-up. Make sure your teacher is certified.

And not every yoga teacher tells his/her students to NOT compete. Some yoga teachers tell their students to "breathe" through any and all pain. And we are so conditioned in this society to "no pain no gain" and to compete, that even helpful instruction may not be heard & understood by students.

Yoga is a form of exercise (w some spiritual/ meditative aspects, depending on who is teaching it). Not every exercise is for every person. Large classes makes it difficult for even a very perceptive yoga teacher to give her students the individual attention they really need to do yoga well and safely.

Re: certification. To become a nationally certified (by American Society for the Alexander Technique) Alexander teacher, I was required to complete a MINIMUM of 1600 hours of training over 3 years in an approved training course where there was no less than 1 teacher for every 5 trainees.

Yoga teacher certification (by Yoga Alliance) requires 200 hours only.

People will continue to get hurt in yoga group classes until better teaching standards are implemented. It would be better for yoga if yoga teachers would come together and set those standards themselves.

Jun. 24 2009 01:59 PM
david from Torontoformerly of nyC

Please no..No we don't need the state to get involved. Yoga has grown just because of the ground up development. Also yoga always says to do only what your body allows not to compete.. which should avoid injury.

Jun. 24 2009 12:37 PM
Jo Brill

Comprehensive information about this unfolding issue is at

Jun. 24 2009 12:36 PM
Paul S. from NYC

Absolutely more licensing....I don't like the fact that when doing the yoga movements the instrucktor will tell you "if it hurts don't do it or ask for help".
....I think the Board of Ed of NYC being so organized and offers such a caring and safe education for our children should add another group to add to their political chaos. Oh Im sorry I thought I was talking about Sweden.

This is more political nonsense to gain some extra fees and possibly squeeze out some of the little guys. I wish those pushing for the bill would pay more attention to the present public school system and have extented hours and curriculums for the kids and libraries.

Oh and if your yoga instructors who might not be the most experienced tells you to jump in front of a cab would you consider it? Think a little on your own.~

Jun. 24 2009 12:17 PM
jtt from jackson heights


Maybe they didn't get that instruction, is the point here.

Jun. 24 2009 12:13 PM
Jessie from Manhattan

yoga teaches you to be in touch with the limits of your own body, so for those who claim that they have been 'injured' by yoga it just means that you did not follow instructions to only move your body as far as it is comfortable and painless to do so. I have sampled at least 5 different yoga centers in NYC and have only met teachers who are caring and concerned, they always say you are free to modify all poses based on the needs of your body. yoga is not a rigorous exercise program and you should not be trying to stretch as far as your neighbor is if it hurts you. I think this licensing will put unnecessary regulation and limit the diversity of the yoga community.

Jun. 24 2009 12:07 PM
Miranda from Brooklyn

I think this law won't work -- but since moving to South Brooklyn, I've been fascinated by the pure nutty godawfulness of some of the yoga studios I've found. I call it "dodgy yoga" practice. Some of the issue is linguistic and feeling out of place, I end up taking classes in Russian or Hebrew, but there is a whole "if it doesn't hurt it's not worth it" ethic that I think people must be bringing in from ballet or something. Once a yoga teacher, who at the beginning of the class did power pushups while we watched, and his wife knit a sweater on the side, biffed me with the side of his foot to make me tip over in a position. Albany can't fix that (or anything apparently), it just requires taking a class and seeing what happens.

Jun. 24 2009 12:05 PM
JP from The Garden State

You wouldn’t have a uncertified auto mechanic work on you car would you? So why take chances with your own body? You can be seriously injured doing yoga. I don’t think people realize once you tear a ligament you’re done. You’ll be in physical therapy for months and have complications for long after that.

Jun. 24 2009 12:03 PM
Jonathan from West Village

Absolutely NEEDED.

As someone who has hired many yoga instructors to come to my home for both myself and children, I can tell you the quality of the instructors -- which all charge very similar fees -- is horribly inconsistent.

The biggest problem is women calling themselves yoga instructors who don't know if they are instructors, or just trying to get paid to do stretch in someone else's house, or looking for dates -- it's a wild west proposition hiring a yoga instructor online -- no matter the claims made about their instruction. All in all: very unprofessional part of the industry at the moment that needs some regulation.

Jun. 24 2009 12:02 PM
Ivey from Brooklyn

I think that a better approach would be to create a civil rating system or a community run board of sorts.

The state is in no position to make regulations regarding yoga instructors, let us listen to our peers, use our judgment, take care of ourselves

Jun. 24 2009 11:59 AM
sophie from manhattan

I think this is a good thing. I've had several yoga teachers who obviously came from aerobics backgrounds. Many switched what they taught to follow the money when yoga became really popular. Made for a lousy class and people could get hurt.

Jun. 24 2009 11:58 AM
dc from brooklyn

If you think the pre natal yoga you are doing is dangerous - maybe another good form of regulation is not doing it.

Jun. 24 2009 11:58 AM
A. Jesse Jiryu Davis from Lower East Side

Yoga is an ancient mystical practice, an aspect of Hindu religion. Sure, New Yorkers like to do it for nice triceps, but that's not the point. The First Amendment prevents the city from interfering with a religion.

Jun. 24 2009 11:57 AM
GradSTud at McGill Uni Canada from Montreal QC

what is this anti-christian bias?

Have you had friends being cult-ed away by some unscrupulous phony swami guru?

Jun. 24 2009 11:57 AM
lauren from Asbury Park

lol. lisa was like "im knocked up right now". lol.... LOL. way to start a serious convo.

Jun. 24 2009 11:55 AM

maybe you should mention this movie in response to the first and last caller:

Enlighten Up!

Jun. 24 2009 11:55 AM
yh from brooklyn

What about licensing gym trainers? In my experience, most people who are personal trainers at gyms have less oversight and information about anatomy than yoga teachers.

If you're practicing yoga, as in practicing any sport (running, playing soccer, etc), you need to be aware of your own body and its limitations.

Jun. 24 2009 11:55 AM
Robert from NYC

Did she say she's knocked up right now?

Jun. 24 2009 11:55 AM
Suki from Williamsburg

This law would actual lead to higher standards and higher pay for yoga instructors.

Alison West is, essentially, playing the role of a union buster.

Jun. 24 2009 11:53 AM
maya from Jersey City, NJ

this is probably being pushed by Christian religious fanatics who are against yoga because, they say, it takes you away from God and all that C-R-A-P... gee.. what a surprise.....

Jun. 24 2009 11:52 AM
Chris from NYC

Not ridiculous at all. Some yoga is very benign, but some forms are quite rigorous and you could really hurt yourself if not under the guidance of someone who knows what they are doing and has good understanding of anatomy

Jun. 24 2009 11:51 AM
jess from Brooklyn

I am soooo for this bill. I think it should go farther and you should need a license to teach. You can really hurt somebody if you are not properly trained as an instructor and I have had one or two bad teachers that would have hurt me if I had let them. You need a license to cut hair- I think a license for this is a no brainer. Also, most other states have this law.

Jun. 24 2009 11:49 AM
Shari from Brooklyn

As someone who's been injured by incompetent yoga instruction, I'm all for this bill.

Jun. 24 2009 11:48 AM
GradSTud at McGill Uni Canada from Montreal QC

Yoga-ism is a cult.

They get their charges to belong to a guru.

Guru asks them to give them all their money

Jun. 24 2009 11:48 AM

Ridiculous! Just another excuse to collect fees.

Jun. 24 2009 11:47 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.