A Letter From Shannon
Dear Yoga Alliance members,
Since we first announced the Standards Review Project (SRP) in September 2017, we have heard from so many of you. We’ve learned about your perspectives, priorities, and considerations regarding this work; about the challenges you face operating your schools, teaching your classes, and ultimately serving your communities; about the harms and disappointments our previous shortcomings have caused you, and, as such, the concerns you have on any new efforts we undertake. Let me begin with thank you. We appreciate and honor the effort, trust, bravery, and optimism represented by every single one of your reflections. Within all of this feedback, the one theme that remains consistent, and which comes through loud and clear, is your passion for the teaching of yoga.
Today, the long-awaited implementation of the community-led SRP begins with the launch of the member-wide Ethical Commitment, up-leveled standards underlying the foundational Registered Yoga School (RYS) 200 credential, and strengthened RYS application, review process, and its corresponding tools. Woven throughout all of these, we hope you will see evidence of both our decision-making principles of traditional yogic values, equity, accountability, integrity, and balance and stability across the community as well as the three overarching priorities with which you charged us through the SRP. Those key asks were to provide you with credentials that stand for high quality, safety, accessibility, and equity in yoga; to ensure these credentials are upheld with integrity; and to step more fully into the role of your professional association.
From a practical standpoint, today’s launch might primarily look or feel like a new format for our online application or new tools to support applicants through these processes, as examples. And, yes, it is these things, and I want to thank the team at Yoga Alliance for the careful, extensive work they’ve been doing for months to get us here.
And…today’s launch also represents much more than the compilation of these individual elements, more broadly reflecting a shift in how Yoga Alliance thinks about its work and its role on behalf of both the membership and the broader yoga community. For many years, we viewed our work through the lens of being responsible for and reactive to our membership, which, by definition, leads to a limited set of response options—“in/out” or “yes/no.” Today, we come to you in relationship with and in support of our members and the larger community. From this perspective, we are better able to engage with, listen to, amplify, and work with and for our members and the community. We have moved from seeing a set of “problems in need of solutions” to seeking opportunities to engage with you and support your great work, and we look forward to growing into this relationship alongside and in partnership with you.
In order to get to today, our team needed to update (and in some instances create new from whole cloth) a near-countless number of internal processes and procedures, such as rubrics, technical platforms, and trainings for staff. Every turn required us to make decisions about how best to serve your needs and how best to balance sometimes-conflicting priorities. We routinely weighed future planning vs. current needs, the employer and community member we want to be (and model) vs. the most efficient use of resources, and opposing requests from varying member perspectives, to name a few—just as you likely do every day in your own schools.
I hope you see our efforts to maintain a delicate balance of these needs and priorities undertaken with the same care as anyone would for someone whose relationship they value. I also hope you recognize a handful of instances where we made the potentially difficult or unpopular choice because these were simply the right things to do—or, as one attendee at the Nashville stop of the 2018 Listening Tour said to me: “You just need to make some choices and do those things. Not everyone will like what you do, and you will have to weather some difficult conversations. But we just need you to do that.” This balance intentionally reflects the aspiration that we will grow into this space together.
Tomorrow, you’ll receive a membership email that will walk you through some of the specifics of today’s launch, including how they impact you as a current member and the resources available to support you. It will reiterate the new policies that also take effect today, including an updated Grievance Policy and new Anti-Harassment Policy. This is iterative, and we are here to support you along the way.
These enhancements are exciting first steps towards greater shared accountability. Yet, I can’t stress enough how much we understand this work to be just the beginning. Just as at the start of any new relationship or chapter, we are hopeful about what these changes will bring while remaining committed to holding space for the necessary, inevitable growth still to come.
When we first launched the SRP, my mentor, friend, and predecessor, David Lipsius, started us down this path by setting our intention of “a return to [Yoga Alliance’s] dharma of service.” This is true for the Yoga Alliance and Yoga Alliance Foundation team, and I hope our work presents to you in this way as well.
In all endeavors, Yoga Alliance is first and foremost a membership organization—your membership organization. All our work is in service to you, and we cannot conduct our work effectively without engagement with you. Yoga Alliance schools and teachers are a force for positive social impact, connection, and peace in the world. By serving you, and through partnership with the Yoga Alliance Foundation, our goal is to support and foster the high quality, safe, accessible, and equitable teaching of yoga.
To ask questions on any or all of the above, please contact our Member Support team by calling 1-888-921-YOGA (9642) or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.