Yoga Alliance is the largest nonprofit organization in the United States that represents yoga teachers, schools, and studios. The association exists for the sustenance and support of yoga by providing the general public with a registry of instructors and schools who meet their minimum standards. Their online registry includes over 39,000 teachers and more than 2,500 schools that meet their requirements. Yoga Alliance, also known as YA, is widely recognized as the premiere recognizing body for yoga teachers and schools.As yoga grew into a mainstream form of exercise, rising steadily in popularity since the 1980s, countless studios and teachers emerged. However, an organization for accreditation had not been established. In 1999, that changed with the formation of the Yoga Alliance. Two volunteer organizations merged to form the association—Unity in Yoga and Ad Hoc Yoga Alliance.
Unity in Yoga had been sponsoring local and international yoga conferences since 1982, with the aim of uniting different styles and traditions of yoga. Ad Hoc Yoga Alliance was formed in 1997 with the vision of creating minimum standards for the teaching of yoga. Together, these two groups formed Yoga Alliance, and YA has now been operating for more than a decade. YA has continuously provided students with an online directory of registered yoga teachers and schools that have passed the requirements of yoga training needed to be able to teach the discipline credibly.
Yoga teachers who want to be registered have to meet a few requirements under certain categories. Categories are the 200-hour, 500-hour, Prenatal and Children. For example, in the 200-hour category, teachers who want to be registered must complete the hours needed in several training courses, which include yoga philosophy and teaching methodology, among many others. Once they are registered, they can already attach RYT to their name, which means Registered Yoga Teacher.
Schools who want to be registered must have experienced teachers and training programs that meet the standards of curriculum developed by Yoga Alliance. By voluntarily registering, it enhances the school’s credibility and distinguishes it as one staffed with knowledgeable and well-trained practitioners.
Importantly, Yoga Alliance does not certify teachers and schools. The YA registers them. There is a big difference between the two. Certification is a more formal process of the declaration of a particular individual’s professional competence and is most often a requirement for practice. When you become registered with Yoga Alliance, it just means that you meet their standards for the teaching of yoga. However, their minimum standards still provide the basic amount of training that you would want your yoga teacher to have.
A review of online forums suggests that some within the yoga community have raised questions regarding the value of becoming a registered yoga teacher or school with the Yoga Alliance. Whatever criticisms the association may get, it is undeniable that they have established themselves as a national and global organization for the service of yoga, and they are even recognized by the US Department of Labor.
Yoga Alliance offers a yoga liability insurance program as of 2013. Their annual rates are $233 or $183, which include an $80 or $53 dollar membership fee, respectively. They provide claims made coverage, not the industry-preferred occurrence form coverage, which is an important distinction for yoga teachers to note. In comparison, Yoga Insurance Plus has one annual rate of $159 per year and provides occurrence form coverage.