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importance of yoga allianceAfter twenty years in the yoga community, I can tell you one unequivocal truth regarding Yoga Alliance. They’re not as important as potential and new teachers believe them to be.

I’ve been involved with the Yoga Alliance since 2002 both as a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) and a Registered Yoga School (RYS). But honestly I haven’t renewed my RYT in probably ten years. Since I’ve owned two studios and taught at many other locations, being an RYT has never come up.

And most places outside of the yoga community like fitness centers, corporations, and school districts, have never heard of the Yoga Alliance either.

What is Yoga Alliance?

Yoga Alliance is a private, non-profit organization created in 1999/2000 to provide a standard of education for yoga teachers. However, they are NOT a certifying body like ACE or AFAA, and they state this clearly on their website. They do not issue certificates of any kind, nor are they sanctioned by any local, state, or federal government to be able to hold any teacher or school accountable.

Becoming an RYT is completely voluntary.

So what does it mean to be a Registered Yoga Teacher? It means:

1. You have completed a Yoga Alliance approved teacher training program.
2. You have obtained a certificate from that program.
3. You have sent a copy of that certificate to the Yoga Alliance.
4. You have paid an annual fee to Yoga Alliance which allows you to use the designation of RYT.
5. You have been added to their registry {database} of teachers.

Voila! You are now an RYT.

Certification vs. Registration

In one blog post, the author states, “A Yoga Alliance certificate does not denote the credibility it claims.”

I agree 1000% with this statement, but there’s also a misrepresented term in the above. Yoga Alliance is not a certifying body therefore you can’t receive any kind of certification from them. In order to “register” with Yoga Alliance you must FIRST obtain a certificate from an approved* teacher training program.

*If a school is approved it means it has created a program that meets the minimum standards set forth by Yoga Alliance. The downside to this is the standards do not take into account the myriad forms and styles of yoga; its standards are designed mostly for posture-based yoga.

One way they’ve tried to address this issue is by making the categories within the standards broad enough to meet the many different ways yoga can be taught therefore making all teacher training programs not created equally.

Experience is Everything

In my twenty years of practicing, I’ve learned that book knowledge can only get a teacher so far. Practice teaching on other potential teachers in training is good, but in orderĀ for teachers to truly learn and grow they must actually be teaching to real live students.

Think about your own practice. Was your main concern when selecting a class (besides fitting into your schedule) about whether or not the teacher was registered with Yoga Alliance? Probably not, since obtaining a certificate or registering with Yoga Alliance is not the same as being a great teacher.

My own knowledge came through a mentorship. Yoga Alliance was barely formed, and formal teacher training programs were a distant idea. The fact that both my mentor and I never went through an organized/formalized 200-hour yoga teacher training program does nothing to lessen our experience and ability.

What’s made us better teachers is time and experience.

What to do

Ultimately each teacher must decide how important being an RYT is to them. Do your research and decide for yourself if it’s a step you want to take after graduating from a teacher training program.

For me, continuing my RYT wasn’t important to me. I didn’t want to continue paying $40-60-then $75 per year for something no one (and I mean no one) ever asked me about. However, I do continue to renew my RYS for my live/offline training because too many people still feel like they need to “register” in order to be legitimate.

Check out the additional blog posts on the controversy surrounding Yoga Alliance: