A Letter From Shannon

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Published: June 25, 2019

Dear Yoga Alliance membership,

At Yoga Alliance, our role is to support and serve the yoga community, including yoga schools, studios, teachers, practitioners, and the public — members and non-members alike. As part of our organizational dharma, both in our founding and today, we took on the responsibility to set, maintain, and uphold yoga teaching standards, which are now widely adopted and recognized throughout the world.

Since we began almost 20 years ago, the field of yoga has evolved drastically. This growth has been accompanied by changes all around us that impact how we teach and practice yoga today. In effort to support you – our member – and the overall yoga community, the standards supporting our credentials also needed to evolve. As such, we undertook a comprehensive review of our standards to date through the Standards Review Project (SRP), entering an 18-month period of self- and public-study to ensure that our standards represent the rapidly changing world around us and in which we live.

Today, I am so excited to share the results of that community-led work. Today’s announcement reflects the input of the tens of thousands of you who generously shared your wisdom and your time with us – thank you. On behalf of YA’s members – current, past, and future – I am honored to have the opportunity to outline the initial changes with you now.

We undertook the comprehensive review of our teacher training standards with three primary goals in mind:

  • To ensure and elevate the quality and safety of how we learn to teach yoga,
  • To offer resources that allow us to include members who might not currently have access to the practice, and
  • To move at a measured pace to lift up, and not disrupt, your livelihoods.

I’d like to focus this letter on sharing the initial outcomes from the months of conversations with you. As such, I won’t go into too much detail here about the SRP information-gathering process but would invite you to learn more about the input and expertise included in this announcement.

As you can imagine, distilling the tremendous amount of input you and the yoga community shared through our survey, listening tour, virtual town halls, etc. into actionable decisions presented a challenge; I would like to emphasize and assure you that we maintained several guiding principles as our north stars throughout our work. These principles – traditional yogic values, equity, accountability, integrity, and balance and stability across the community – made up our decision-making framework. They now also make up the core of our credentials, and we will continue to adhere to them as we enforce and continually review the standards moving forward.

I also want to make sure you are aware that we did not make any changes rashly, nor are we going to require you to take any action rashly, either. We know that any change will impact your livelihood whether you’re a school or teacher. Therefore, if you are a current RYS 200, you have over 18 months – until December 31, 2021 – to make any necessary updates to your school programming to meet these new standards. (Changes to the standards of our professional credentials, the RYS 300 and RYS 500, as well as to our specialty credentials will be announced this time next summer.)

And we are here, now and going forward, to guide and support you through the implementation with care.

Three major themes emerged in this process, with strong and clear support from this membership and the broader community, which you will see reflected in the changes:

  1. Our credentials will identify and support you as experts and professionals who stand for quality, safety, and accessibility in yoga teaching.
  2. For this to be credible, we have updated both our standards and our application process, which will enable us to uphold the credentials with integrity.
  3. And we will better support you, by fulfilling the responsibilities of a professional membership association more completely. In addition to continuing and expanding our advocacy work, this will include more comprehensive educational resources and member benefits as well as serving as a convener of community-wide dialogues in support of the field’s challenges and growth. To that end, later this year, Yoga Alliance will launch explorations of “what is yoga?”, the roles of power and empowerment within yoga, and the broader issues of inequity that exist in yoga.

Below is an infographic that highlights the significant changes to the underlying standards of the RYS 200 foundational teaching training credential.

RYS 200 Comparison. View full size.

Our Member Services team will remain available for extended hours, weekdays between now and July 3, from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM EST, in order to answer any questions or to walk any member through these initial outcomes. Regular hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM EST.

In addition, the Yoga Alliance website has been updated with a “New RYS Standards” tab that has information broken out according to the various changes. We have also used this opportunity to include translations in numerous languages: Arabic, French, Hindi, Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish. And, where possible, we have infographics, closed captioning, and audio recordings to help highlight key points of emphasis.

This is a return to, or a renewed commitment towards, our dharma of service – to support you, our member schools and teachers, as well as aspiring teachers and students. We believe that these initial outcomes will help us serve all yoga lineages, styles, and methodologies and ensure that all who teach and practice yoga, now or in the future, can find a home for themselves within Yoga Alliance.

Thank you for the service you offer humanity through your teaching.

In yoga,

Shannon Roche Photo and Signature


Questions about our new standards? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.

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