Tag Archives: regulation

Yoga for NY Launches!


It’s been a busy few weeks, and I’m sorry I couldn’t deliver more posts, BUT I’m very happy to announce that the Yoga for NY website is up! (I was busy building it.)

Yoga for NY, aka the Yoga Association of New York, formed in June in order to lobby against the state’s efforts to force licensing on yoga studios. (Non-profits like Yoga Alliance are not allowed to lobby the government.) They’ve made great progress; yoga is on the path towards getting an exemption. But the work is far from over. They need the support of every friend of yoga in order to fund all the lawyers and consultants etc to make this thing happen properly. So please become a member, or volunteer — even $10 helps set the standards for New York and beyond.

And mark your calendar for next Monday, August 24th — there will be a big benefit / fundraiser / launch party at Om Factory. 8—10pm, $20 suggested donation, you can rsvp to rsvp [at] yogaforny [dot] org.

More Stuff You’ll Care About Eventually

yoga granthi
i gotcher granthi

The ever-vigilant Leslie Kaminoff pointed me towards a great update on the state’s Yoga Extortion Initiative:

Since the licensing battle with the Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision (BPSS) began in April, two pieces of legislation have popped up—both of which will have dramatically opposite effects on the future of teacher training for yoga studios.

One bill seeks to bolster the cash-strapped BPSS by raising application fees and increasing fines
. Interestingly enough, the BPSS’s only source of revenue is generated from application fees and fines collected from vocational schools. According to Assemblymember Deborah Glick’s legislation, discussed below, only slightly over 450 schools are currently licensed. This, compounded with the fact that many private vocational schools around the state are closing due to the current recession, funding for the BPSS is getting very tight.

Call us crazy, but we have a hunch the new licensing requirements for yoga studios aren’t just a coincidence.

The second piece of legislation, on the other hand, seeks to deliver yoga from BPSS control by clarifying and changing the law to make yoga studios completely exempt from its purview.

Both bills seem to be resting for the time being – seemingly due to all of the hullabaloo going on in Albany. We think that means that this is prime time to get informed and start lobbying your local and state representatives.

(Emphasis mine. Read the whole article at YogaCityNYC.)

What’s interesting to me — who gets glassy-eyed at politics, who never makes it through the first section of the paper, who got her only C in Social Studies — is that these first bills will set an ideological precedent. If we agree that the state has the right to charge us even $5 for a license to train yoga teachers, we’re agreeing that the PRINCIPLE of charging us is correct — and thus they can later charge us $50,000 if they think that’s fair. I don’t think the state needs to regulate a creative field that has had no consumer complaints. Do I need a state license to train someone to teach Photoshop? Why is the state going to know best? [Thanks to Leslie for opening my eyes a little wider.]

If you want to learn more and get involved with this battle, mark your calendar for July 8th, 12:15 pm. That’s the next meeting of the minds. In the meantime, I’ll share some stuff I learned at a tech meetup this month:


Inspired by other tech-savvy politicians, the NY State Senate massively upgraded their website to be very interactive. You can comment on current legislation, watch live video of meetings, and even suggest bills yourself. The designers said that the office is indeed reading all suggestions, but of equal importance is the site analytics. They’re tracking which bills and issues we visit, and which pages we click before and after — so even if you don’t comment or suggest a bill, you can still show that an issue is important by searching, visiting and spending time on its pages. And, there are now links to each senator’s Twitter and Facebook pages, if they have them, so that you can better follow and communicate with your rep.

So. Take five seconds and visit the press release for Senator Schneiderman’s bill. Click “send to a friend” at the bottom. If you tweet, blog, and share that page, the Senate office will see its importance. Then, friend Senator Schneiderman on Facebook and tell him “Thanks!” for supporting yoga studios. You could even find and friend your local senator, and tell them to help protect your local yoga studios, too. Modern democracy!

Yoga Licensing Update

For those that have been following New York State’s recent decision to treat yoga teacher trainings as vocational programs, here’s an update:

  • Yoga Union hosted a friendly meeting last week with the state education department, who softened their position somewhat. YogaCityNYC attended, and continues to report on the situation.
  • The New York Daily News posted a great editorial about the state’s Kafkaesque enforcement of its outdated laws — claiming to have consumer protection in mind even though “Department spokesman Tom Dunn acknowledged… that it has never in its history received a complaint about subpar yoga training.” It’s all about the licensing fees, people.
  • Jo Brill updated her resource page with many new links and tips.
  • Om Factory is hosting an informational meeting on Tuesday, June 2nd, at 2pm. Alison West is organizing. Please email yogaunionnyc at gmail dot com if you plan to attend, or would like more info.
  • And Leslie Kaminoff said “I told you so” — be sure to read his long but worthwhile thread on the original discussions on certification versus licensing. Thoughtful arguments at the beginning, many wise teachers chiming in at the end.

The yoga community is healthy and self-regulating, with a safe certification system already in place, and that this foolish licensing will put many small businesses into the graveyard! Yoga is a vast, ancient system of personal development that does not conform to a bureaucratic standardization of requirements. It can be anything from spirituality to athletics, and there’s no way to quantify what makes a “good” teacher. It’s different for every student. Yoga is an art form of self expression, and teacher trainings are just passing this on.

And for those that find politics deadly dull, here’s a picture of a fawn and a bobcat snuggling.

deer bobcat
La la la la

Yoga Teacher Training Licensing Hits New York

Sheriff BadgeWell, it’s happened. The New York state government wants to bring yoga into the fold of regulated industries. Teacher training programs are now considered “vocational training” and the state wants to require its own applications and fees. This would be in addition to the Yoga Alliance applications and fees.

Leslie Kaminoff warned us (in his anatomy class) about this possibility a few months ago: several states have instigated the licensing process for yoga. (Minnesota, Arizona, and Michigan, I believe.) It’s of course a new revenue source for struggling governments (and they’ll be more able to draw yoga “therapists” into the morass of health insurance providers and paperwork).

The letter was a full-out cease-and-desist order, threatening a fine of up to $50,000 for operation of a school without a license. Recipients were instructed to cease operating teacher training instruction until they complied. No matter if you’re halfway through a training, or advertising a new one. Your Yoga Alliance license? Irrelevant. You have to wait for the eight-month-plus process of state licensing to conclude; then you can finish up.

It appears that the state got their list of programs from the Yoga Alliance website, as not all programs were served with the letter (on April 16). Studios in other states could of course preemptively remove their teacher training programs from this website, without losing their Yoga Alliance certification… Also, programs advertised and focused on personal enrichment, not providing actual teacher training certificates for their graduates, would probably be exempt.

One problem is that the state board is pushing a one-size-fits-all vocational training application, while the range and methodology of programs is vast. A license to teach “yoga” is like a license to teach “science” — it’s a huge topic. Even Yoga Alliance has famously broad guidelines. It’s up to the student and studio to clarify their expectations. But the state sees vocational licensing as part of its mission. Exemptions seem unlikely; even if a school offers “only language, religion, and athletics”, the director of the State Education Department insisted that “If the student would expect to learn skills which may be used in an occupation at a later point, whether employed or self employed, then the training needs to be regulated by our bureau.”

If you’re a yoga student, this means your local yoga studio might go under. Teacher trainings are generally the main source of revenue for studios — even $20 classes are no match for New York’s five-digit rents — and additional costs of hundreds or thousands of dollars might be impossible. Especially for smaller studios. So, what to do?

Jo Brill has compiled a resource page including PDFs of both letters, resources for studios, and contact information for the state regulators.

Yoga City NYC has a great article on the topic. (Thanks, J. Brown, for the link.)

Yoga Journal is holding a Business of Yoga Workshop tomorrow and Friday (May 14–15) — I’m sure this topic will come up.

And you can use the hashtag #NYSYogaReg to post or follow the topic on Twitter.

Does anyone know if there’s a senator or congressperson that it would be appropriate to contact?