Friday, July 10, 2009 - Yoga Faces Regulation, and Firmly Pushes Back

Published: July 10, 2009

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Ten years ago, with yoga transforming into a ubiquitous pop culture phenomenon from a niche pursuit, yoga teachers banded together to create a voluntary online registry of schools meeting new standards for training instructors.

But that list — which now includes nearly 1,000 yoga schools nationwide, many of them tiny — is being put to a use for which it was never intended. It is the key document in a crackdown that pits free-spirited yogis against lumbering state governments, which, unlike those they are trying to regulate, are not always known for their flexibility....

Well, it didn't seem like a good idea to everyone at the time. I informed the reporter of this when I was interviewed for the article, and gave him extensive background on the issues. I ended up being quoted as follows:

“We made it very, very easy for them to do what they’re doing right now,” said Leslie Kaminoff, founder of the Breathing Project, a nonprofit yoga center in New York City, who had opposed the formation of the Yoga Alliance. “The industry of yoga is a big, juicy target.”

Reading through the 130 comments is very interesting (mine is comment #100). The most pervasive stupidity that's in evidence is the absolutely false association of regulation with quality and safety. The government has done a very good job of selling its brand because it is clear that to the general populace, "unregulated" equals "unsafe." Also, it's clear most people have no idea of the distinction between certification and licensing - the terms are used interchangeably in many of comments.

The inevitable stories about being hurt by stupid teachers also get aired out, and are used to justify whatever the state wants to do to "protect the public." Thankfully, a few commenters show the absurdity of that notion by pointing out how in the HIGHLY regulated financial industry, government controls did nothing to stop the widespread abuses and scams that have devastated entire sectors of the economy.

It was, in fact, those controls that made the abuses possible in the first place (they could never have happened in a truly free economy), and have only led to an outright government takeover of our banking, insurance and real estate markets. Typical regulatory logic: "a lot of controls didn't work, so now total control is called for. After all, you can count on us to keep corruption out of anything we choose to oversee..right?"

What comments do you have? Let's hear them.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

IYEA Launches on Independence Day, 2009

The Independent Yoga Educators of America is officially born on July 4th, 2009.

I have launched this initiative after many years of talking, writing and advocating for the freedom of my chosen profession: Yoga Educator.

This profession has come under attack by state regulators who wish to license the training of yoga teachers via existing vocational licensing laws. I have written an extensive article exploring these issues, which I am posting here, and also on our new website,

Please feel free to comment on the article on this blog. If you wish to engage in a more serious discussion of these vital issues, I urge you to click here to learn how you can support IYEA's efforts.

"A Declaration of Independence for Yoga Educators"

© July 4, 2009 Leslie Kaminoff and IYEA

Until a month ago, I was prepared to write a perspective piece for the International Journal of Yoga Therapy centering on the IAYT-sponsored Council of Schools that I attended this March in Los Angeles. Those well-organized and productive meetings produced a richly textured dialogue surrounding issues such as certification standards, accreditation and definitions of yoga therapy. Unfortunately, I can no longer write about those issues because it has become clear that dialogue can no longer exist for us as a community - it has been obliterated by the regulatory agencies of several states' departments of education...

Read the entire article on the IYEA website

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

IYEA Statement of Principles

I am an independent yoga educator.

I teach about the value of personal freedom on all levels of human experience.

I embrace my own standards for my education, and the training of my students, and am willing to be held accountable for living up to those standards.

I value my freedom to conduct my relationships without coercive interference by third parties.

I will resist to the best of my ability any entity that assumes the authority to license or regulate me as a yoga educator or to enforce its standards upon me.