yoga in OMerika: what $95 buys

The Official Blessing

$95 bought that logo.

I don’t consider my posts about the Yoga Alliance as rants, although I am sure some would consider them as such.  I consider them a public yoga education.  I am reporting my own experience in order to help any newbie teachers make their own informed decisions.

I gave my reasons in this post as to why I renewed my registration with Yoga Alliance.  $150 later I am now officially an E-RYT 200 — “EXPERIENCED REGISTERED YOGA TEACHER.”  I know, I was such a hack before YA’s official blessing.  I can now conduct a 200 hour yoga teacher training after YA’s approval of my curriculum, of course.  After paying the requisite fees.  Of course.

I decided to upload more teaching and training hours to the YA site, so I pulled out my four inch thick folder with my teaching and training records.  I was amazed to finally see it all laid out in black and white, all the time and effort I’ve put into my yoga teaching since 2004 when I first registered with YA  — over 2000 hours of teaching and almost 900 hours of advanced training.  I did not even count each and every three hour workshop.

I thought what the hell, I will try to upgrade to E RYT 500 – 500 because one day I might want to conduct a 500 hour training.  The upgrade is another $95.  Piece of cake with all my hours, right?  Wrong, wrong, and WRONG.   This is the email I received from YA:

“In order to upgrade to an ERYT 500, one must first meet the criteria for an RYT 500, having graduated either from a YA registered advanced 300 or complete 500 hour program  (please see standards below).  

RYT 500-
A yoga teacher with a minimum of 500 hours of yoga teacher training, either:

o   500 hours from one school, or
o   200 hours plus 300 hours of advanced training from one school (training that requires participants to have a 200-Hour certification.

As you have not completed a YA registered training, but  have spent many hours of in depth study with Sri Desikachar, I would recommend that you complete the “graduate of a non-registered school”  application (attached) for your RYT 500 upgrade.”

Out of my 800+ hours of training, my three intensives at KYM plus private classes with Desikachar’s senior teachers total 300 hours of advanced training.  Apparently the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram is NOT a registered school with YA.  AS IF that would stop me from studying there.

I am sure Sri Desikachar stays up at night wondering whether the school he started to honor his father, the Source Scholar of Yoga, the Grandfather of Modern Yoga, should be registered with the Yoga Alliance.  Please.  Really?  The YA can’t cut KYM any slack?  Let them “grandfather” in as a registered school?  Seriously?  By the way, someone who certifies you in “Goddess Yoga” IS an approved school of the YA.  Right.

Here’s the kicker:  in order for me to upgrade to a 500 level teacher, the “graduate of a non-registered school” application costs $150 together with the $95 to upgrade to E RYT 500.  So another $245 over and above the $150 I already paid to renew and upgrade to E RYT 200.

Oh my Goddess, I am in the wrong business.  I need to be in the certification game.  And can someone tell me why YA is officially a non-profit organization?  I said “no thanks.”  I don’t want to pay another dime to YA especially considering all that dough is a lot of rupees in India which I will need starting in January.  But eventually I will have to pay it if I ever want to conduct a 500 hour level training in the future.  AS IF I could not do that RIGHT NOW.

Of course I can conduct teacher trainings without being “Yoga Alliance approved” but how realistic is that?  With the current mentality of yoga in OMerika, would anyone sign up for my trainings?  I doubt it, because even the most staunchly anti-YA teachers (Ganga White – a must read; Lex Gillan; and my teacher in Chicago, to name a few), ALL ended up registering their schools with YA.  Because that is what people look for.

So here is my question, good readers:  the curriculum being equal, if you had a choice of a non-YA approved 200 hour teacher training with someone like me, with all my hours, 5 times at KYM OR with someone who is YA approved but does not have the hours of training and teaching experience that I have, which would you pick?

And I will say this before anyone else does:  yes, I know hours of training does not automatically make one a “good” teacher, the same way inexperience does not automatically make one a “bad” teacher.  There are always variables.

Yoga in OMerika.  Travel at your own risk.

25 thoughts on “yoga in OMerika: what $95 buys

  1. You ask us to comment on this. How about, “NO COMMENT” = what an E-RYT 500 in a vinyasa style had done to my body and my practice ? … which I know you already have some idea about …[I’m a.k.a. Yogini5]


  2. the alliance is a big scam & has never meant anything to me. my trainings were with suddha, dena kingsberg, tim miller & guruji/sharath. none have the ryt training (well maybe suddha). however, i will never do my own training. i prefer to apprentice. i have turned a handful of my students into decent teachers. if you’ve practiced daily for many years, you can probably teach regardless of your “training.” because most of what you learn is from your OWN practice. i’m still learning because i’m still practicing. it never ends. it’s criminal to charge thousands of dollars for TTs when most yoga teachers are at the poverty level.


    1. yup, heard from a former student of mine who became a yoga teacher at age 61. THAT is an inspiration. As I said, I renewed my YA and upgraded to ERYT because two studios where I do workshops wanted to incorporate my workshops into their own teacher trainings and technically they could not do it w/o my being registered with YA. I had let my registration lapse in 2008.


  3. You know, it seems to me like you’ve made enough steps here. I guess I would like to believe that dedicated, passionate students would find your 200 hr program, realize who you are as a teacher, and then feel compelled to keep working with you, regardless of additional certification. This probably is a much smaller group of students than would come from having the “official” sign on the door, but it also seems to me like a good way to weed out those who are driven by credentials and other superficial aspirations.

    On the other hand, this brings us back to the complex, challenging issues that come with trying to practice in a capitalist environment. It’s so easy for everything to get corrupted, including the notion of “non-profits” organizations, and spiritual/religious organizations. Because sangha, the community, is so de-emphasized and diminished, it’s really difficult for any individual sincere teacher or student to find their ways. I feel the pinch right now. I can hear you feeling the pinch. And I know we’re not alone.


    1. “I would like to believe that dedicated, passionate students would find your 200 hr program, realize who you are as a teacher, and then feel compelled to keep working with you, regardless of additional certification.”

      One would think. But this is Yoga in America, not Yoga in Fantasy Land. 😉

      Actually, if I do a TT, I am not interested in teaching to 20, 30, 50, to fill a room. My training is going to be limited to a dozen, if that many, to weed people out, as you say.

      Sounds like a blog post for you.


  4. since you are planning on training a small group, most of whom probably know you very well anyway, you should just do your training and they will sign up for it, because it’s you and that is who they want to train with. i have never been asked to show YA membership (good thing since i’ve never been a member) potential employers/partners want to see certification from a reputable TT school, not YA association. if anybody asked, i would explain the qualifications of my teachers, all of whom have over 20 years + teaching experience, which is before the YA even existed. that should suffice. i say go for it, linda, offer your training and see what comes.


  5. Given the chaotic situation in the yoga TT industry, I would either take TT with someone who classes I have taken and loved, or study with well known senior yoga teachers. The YA certification doesn’t really mean anything.


    1. don’t know where you live, YYogini, but where I live, YA rules insofar as what people look for in TTs. As I wrote, that is the reason the teacher with whom I certified finally went the YA route. He was not a YA approved school when I certified as a teacher with him.


  6. I know it’s all garbage and I hate paying every year too. Some of the people I know who are EYRTs at 200H level should not be teaching. Unfortunately as you point out it’s part of the climate here so in some ways we must do it. I know where I live having the RYT after your name is mildly important. This is especially true if you want to teach at studios. Kind of a shame.


    1. I have never had a problem with the gist of YA, per se. However, I have a very hard time dealing with people or organizations who can’t think outside the box, i.e., my experience with them regarding my school in India. it’s bullshit, plain and simple. AND the fact that people have told me they know of teachers who have totally lied about their training to YA, yet, they give ME a hard time about my training in India? YA can EASILY grandfather in KYM as a registered school but they choose not to. like they need another school registration fee, from Desikachar? again, bullshit.


  7. I woulda thought the “E” in “E-RYT” stood for “Educator” and not “Experienced”. Weird language!

    I think it’s very interesting, how these organisations that have only been around for a handful of years really (its the same in Australia) feel like they can ignore teachers and training and wow, actual yoga lineages that’ve been around much longer than them. Or worse – make them pay more money and jump through more hoops just to be able to teach “officially” what they know how to teach anyway…


  8. I took a no YA certified training at first and it was difficult without a YA certification so did another training to get it. I am now about to do the 500h in Bali, also YA certified. You have so much great experience, be confident in your teachings!!! It might be harder without the certification but u can do it anyways. titles are only here for the business side, i know a lot of tripple certified teachers who are not great!


  9. Sounds like YA is just another bureaucracy that exists for its own sake, and when that happens the rules are supreme! So the E in RYT means that the person is allowed to conduct teacher trainings? I was wondering what the difference was.

    YA has such a strong foothold in that I was under the impression that you weren’t allowed to teach yoga without it for legal reasons! Which is pretty silly if I think about it because I’m not even American and I still thought I would need it. I guess the main reason it would make sense for me to be registared with YA or its equivalent would be for partical reasons, for as you say, some places require it if you’re going to offer workshops etc and since I’m rural I imagine I wouldn’t be doing a lot of group teaching out of my own home.


    1. “was under the impression that you weren’t allowed to teach yoga without it for legal reasons”

      nope, not true. one can teach yoga in USA without even having gone through a teacher training. I knew a few teachers — over 10 years ago — who did that, and you can still find a few. but these were people who had done yoga for 20+ years and their teacher said “go teach.” that’s old school.


  10. Signa – Fi – Nothing
    What a relief to read this post! This same bologna goes on in Massage and Acupuncture – makes me crazy! I think there is an “organization” archetype and these people do the same thing regardless of what group they are associated with. I try to comfort myself with the idea that perhaps these organizations serve to make the sincere more sincere – but it gets lonely out here in space – which is why I appreciate your expression of the situation so much!

    Maybe we could form a new multi-profession non-profit group of people who never want to be in groups – the main requirement being that one cannot belong to any other professional group.

    And, I have to disclose that of course I am “registered” with various CEU groups for the same goofy reasons that others are – I got tired of trying to explain why it didn’t matter, then I thought maybe I was just being stubborn and that was a bad karma thing and bla bla around the hamster wheel I go.

    When I witnessed the whole Yoga Association starting up it was like watching the Massage thing all over again. Personally, if a teacher has YA as their main attraction I go in the opposite direction – always on the look out for someone like you who is living the practice.

    Thanks for courageously speaking out – and giving me a laugh along the way.

    May it all fall apart allowing the seeds of sincerity to sprout from the compost pile of the corruption!


    1. cindy,

      thanks for looping me in here.

      the yoga “masters” of our time are not YA recognized, nor will they ever be: iyengar, desikichar, erich schiffmann, etc, etc. many who have also been teaching for three+ decades before the creation of the YA chose to be recognized so as to offer YA certified programs, allowing the masses to now be recognized as CERTIFIED YOGA TEACHERS. excuse me, i am vomitting in my mouth.

      LOVE the idea, cindy, of the prof org for those who will never join a prof org = )

      p.s. there was a yoga weekend event in fl a few yrs ago, a natl event that was moving around they country, and they were looking for volunteer teachers to teach blocks. however, if you weren’t YA stamped, you could not volunteer teach. i brought to their attn that they were eliminating MANY GREAT TEACHERS, true yogi’s, deeply skilled, the ones who would NEVER EVER join YA. e.g., if mr iyengar wanted to teach, nope, he’d be rejected. erich schiffmann, sorry erich. i had to educate the coordinator of this event re: what the YA stamp means and what it DOESN’T mean, without using the word bullshit. and why so many yogi’s avoid it like the plague.


  11. I think I may be the second RYT of Belgium. Nobody here – not ONE of my students, not ONE of the gyms / studios where I happen to teach – have asked me anything about it, actually no one knows about YA, I guess. And I did hesitate a lot before paying the damn fee.
    So why did I go the YA route? Because I am not going to stay in Belgium, and in the countries I might end up in, the “RYT” might be slightly required. So hum yeah.
    That doesn’t stop me from wanting to go to KYM some day, registered or not. That’s the heart of yoga, of my yoga, so this is where I’ll go, full stop.
    A shame, still…


  12. So great to find your blog. How refreshing to hear a like-minded voice come through with such honesty and candor. Kudos.

    All I might add is that I have gone through the exact same thing. I did teacher training before there was 200hr certification and have been teaching for over 15 years. I could have been grandfathered in but never registered with the YA because I never had a need. I opened a center myself 4 years ago and have been conducting 200hr trainings twice a year for the last 3. The first year I did a training but didn’t call it 200hrs. I decided to create my own 200hr curriculum to fit more in the mold. In my experience, most folks do not understand the difference between certification and registration and I have graduates from my training working at senior centers, VA hospital, gyms and hip yoga center all just by showing the certificate I printed for them on my home computer. They just want to see a piece of paper that says “200hr Certified Yoga Teacher.”

    I too have gone back and forth about registering for formality sake. Up until a few months ago, graduates of my training could still use it to register as a “graduate of a non-registered school” but that was recently pulled off the website. However, when one of my students called in they still sent her the form all the same. Back when it was still permissible, I would always be very up front with anyone considering the training that we could get them registered but we would have to be about creative about filling out the paperwork, kind of like doing taxes.

    I’m just not going to stick to there arbitrary grid of hours. My training is essentially an apprenticeship of sorts and it takes as long as it needs for the student to demonstrate competency. I feel confident that folks who graduate from my training far exceed the wrote YA guidelines.

    As of now, I am still holding out on principle. Having my own place affords me that leisure. I have had students decide not to do my training because it was not registered but, frankly, it’s probably for the best. Most of the folks who sign on have been students of mine for some time before and don’t care anything about the YA.

    Up until about 50 years ago, there was no such thing as yoga teacher training. Students who learned and utilized yoga practice naturally went on to teach others what they had learned. Even if, at some point, I have to bite the bullet and bend over for perception sake, I will remain true to that precept. Otherwise, I will find something else to do with myself.

    Ain’t no way I’m gonna let the man mess with my yoga.

    Again, my compliments on your excellent blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I attempted to become certified by Yoga Alliance in 2011 and was unable to do so, primarily for financial reasons. Between the cost of the classes, as well as taking off of work, travel and accommodations, it would have cost me about $5000 (completely impossible!) to become “certified” to do what I have been doing my entire life. Despite my then 35 years of practice, being a certified Kriyaban with both SRF and Ananda Fellowship, having studied with yoga masters including Ram Dass, the Dalai Lama and others, and having taught since the 1980s, YA would not give me credit for ANY of my previous training. The application said, “Please list all Yoga Alliance approved schools you have attended, credit hours earned, name, address and phone number of all teachers.” Problem is, the Yoga Alliance (founded in 1999) did not EXIST back when I received most of my training, which did not involve formal “credit hours”! Also, I never knew the real names of some of my teachers, like “Ma,” never mind their address and phone number. I felt better when I learned that a friend of mine’s elderly and well-respected guru from India with 50+ years of traditional yoga teaching experience was likewise rejected by YA. They said we would have to start over from scratch. Meanwhile, a person with ZERO previous yoga education or experience who has money can become a “certified yoga teacher” in just 3 months of weekend classes. Really?!

    I ended up becoming a Heart of Yoga teacher when upon inquiry I was invited to attend a week-long teacher training intensive along with a dozen other experienced yoga practitioners where we were personally interviewed and stringently evaluated on an individual basis. HOY gives credit for previous training in other traditions, and is NOT an Alliance approved teacher-training school despite having its roots in the very home of Krishnamacharya, “the Teacher of all the modern teachers,” where our teacher Mark lived and studied for 20 years along side of K’s son T.K. Desikachar. Mark refused to play by their rules, calling YA a money making scam. Interestingly, Krishnamacharya’s ashram also is not approved by the Alliance!


    1. Thank you for reading LYJ, Jamie. However, I studied at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram from 2005-2013 and it is NOT an ashram and as for Mark, there is no way a foreigner can live continuously in India for 20 years.


      1. Oh, I thought “mandiram” was similar to “ashram” – a place where people go to practice yoga and spirituality. As for Mark, I didn’t say “continuously” and I am unfamiliar with the exact legal requirements for foreigners living in India at that time. Since I have no reason to doubt his story that he studied in the home of Krishnamacharya for 20 years, I would assume he made arrangements somehow. In any case the point of my post was to reaffirm your observations about YA.


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