One of the most common questions I receive during yoga teacher training is about registering with the Yoga Alliance after graduation. In my opinion, formed after twenty years in the yoga community, the organization is not as important as new teachers may believe them to be.

I’ve been involved with the Yoga Alliance (YA) 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.

I’ve been teaching yoga longer than they’ve been an organization, and was one of the first individuals to teach yoga in my area. So being an RYT has never been important to anyone I interact with on a yoga level.

And most places outside of the yoga community like fitness centers, corporations, and school districts, have never heard of the YA 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. No local, state, or federal government sanctions the organization in order to hold any RYT or RYS 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 YA approved teacher training program like Purple Lotus Yoga.
2. You have obtained a certificate from that program.
3. You have sent a copy of that certificate to the YA.
4. You have paid an annual fee to YA 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.

*Updated: The Yoga Alliance increased its requirements for approval. These new requirements will go into effect in 2020.

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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 YA you must FIRST obtain a certificate from an approved* teacher training program.

*An approved school meets the minimum standards set for 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. They have tried to address this issue by making the categories broad enough to encompass the many ways yoga can be taught. This means not all teacher training programs are 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 order 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 YA differs from being a great teacher.

My own knowledge came through a mentorship. Yoga Alliance was not yet 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.

Time and experience made us better teachers.

What to do

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

Talk to your favorite teachers and find out whether they opted to register with the Yoga Alliance or not. You’ll probably find the score similarly split. Not everyone registers and many believe registering with YA is uber-important.

For me, continuing my RYT wasn’t important to me or to the individuals who came through Purple Lotus Yoga. When I first registered with Yoga Alliance annual fees hovered over $40. Now fees are more than $100 per year. I do 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:

  1. https://fourelementsyoga.wordpress.com/2010/09/26/yoga-alliance-registration-is-it-worth-it/
  2. http://www.jbrownyoga.com/blog/2011/11/yoga-alliance-approved-my-ass

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