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United States Advocacy and Regulatory Issues


Want to know what the "state of yoga" is like in your community? Find your state below to learn the latest about what's going on and what you can do to help protect the integrity and diversity of yoga.


Yoga Alliance - United States advocacy efforts map



Alaska

Status: Attempting to Regulate YTTs

Overview:

Yoga Alliance has been contacted by yoga teacher training programs (YTTs) in Alaska regarding interactions with the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE). We have learned that the ACPE may be requiring Alaska YTTs to comply with state regulations meant for vocational or professional programs and pay annual fees to operate in the state. On February 12, 2016, Rep. Lynn Gattis from Wasilla introduced HB 305 in the Alaska State House of Representatives. The bill, HB 305 will exempt YTTs from unnecessary regulation by ACPE. We are grateful for the support of Rep. Gattis!

In addition to the House legislation, Sen. Lesil McGuire introduced a related bill, SB 190, on February 22, 2016. Chairman Dunleavy scheduled a hearing in the Senate Education Committee to discuss this legislation on March 10, 2016. Yoga Alliance’s Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, Barb Dobberthien, called-in to the hearing and local yoga teacher Jodee Dixon attended to testify and answer questions posed by committee members. We are grateful for the leadership of Sen. McGuire, Rep. Gattis, and Chairman Dunleavy. On March 17, 2016 , SB 190 through the Senate Education Committee yesterday without opposition! We’ll be sure to keep you updated on next steps and ways to get involved.

If you would like to express your support for the legislation and get involved in Yoga Alliance’s advocacy efforts, please contact us at yaadvocacy@yogaalliance.org at your earliest convenience. You can also reach us at 888-921-9642.

Get Involved:

Take a moment to fill out this short surveyLet us know if you have been contacted by ACPE, are currently subject to regulation or would like to be involved in Yoga Alliance’s advocacy efforts.

Email us if you have been contacted by the ACPE. Be sure to let us know when you were contacted and forward their original correspondence to us as well. 

Past Updates:


Arizona

Status: New Bill Introduced to Protect YTTs

Overview:

Recently, Yoga Alliance was contacted by members of Arizona’s yoga community regarding regulations on YTTs by the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education (SBPPE).  These regulations – meant to apply to “private vocational programs” – involve compliance with extensive requirements and payment of expensive fees for nearly every YTT course offered by a yoga provider.  Like you, Yoga Alliance is concerned that these regulations are not only unnecessary, but harmful to the yoga community and small businesses in this state. 

In recent months, Yoga Alliance has formed a team on the ground that is working – on your behalf – with Arizona’s legislators, regulators, and decision makers to make sure that YTTs are no longer harmed by needless and burdensome requirements. Last month, a Yoga Alliance representative participated in an SBPPE meeting to present our case, answer questions, and mark another step toward solutions that will help the yoga community thrive.

We are pleased to announce that in mid-January of 2016, with Yoga Alliance’s strong support, Representatives Bob Thorpe, Christopher Ackerley, Vince Leach, Rebecca Rios, and Lela Alston introduced H.B. 2390, a bill in the Arizona House of Representatives that would exempt YTTs from the current burdensome and unnecessary regulations that apply to them. We commend these legislators for their support of Arizona’s yoga community and we look forward to their consideration of this important legislation in the coming weeks. If successful, Arizona will join the majority of other states that do not actively regulate YTT programs or have exempted YTT programs from similar regulations.

In early March 2016, HB 2613 was passed by the Arizona House of Representatives and most recently, the Senate Commerce & Workforce Development committee. This bill includes an important provision to exempt YTTs from regulation by the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education (SBPPE). However, the process is not done yet. We your support more than ever. The next big step is a vote by the full Arizona Senate, which we believe will occur in the next couple of days, and now is the time to make your voices heard!

As this effort continues, your support will be critical. We will continue to post updates as we learn more information.

Get Involved:

Let Arizona’s regulators and legislators know how these regulations are affecting you by signing this petition.  If you feel comfortable, please feel free to share your story in the comments section.

Take a moment to fill out this short survey.  Let us know if you have been contacted by SBPPE, are currently subject to regulation, or would like to be involved in Yoga Alliance’s Arizona efforts.

Contact us if you have any relationships with state government officials, including legislators, who may be supportive of our efforts.

Past Updates:


Arkansas

Status: Law Enacted to Protect YTTs

Overview:

Arkansas’ State Board of Private Career Education approves all schools offering programs of study leading to or enhancing an occupational objective (see ARK. CODE ANN. § 6-51-605.)  However, the Arkansas Code clarifies that programs of instruction in yoga or in yoga-teacher training are not considered “schools” requiring approval by the Board.

Legal Citation:

ARK. CODE ANN. § 6-51-602(11)(E): School does not mean a program of instruction in yoga or in yoga-teacher training.

ARK. CODE ANN. § 6-51-624: This subchapter does not apply to a school or training program that offers only avocational or recreational instruction or teacher instruction for the following subjects:

  1. dance;
  2. music;
  3. yoga;
  4. horseback riding; or
  5. sewing, knitting, or other needlecrafts.

[Emphasis added.]

Get Involved:

Thank Your Legislator. Call or email your Representative and thank them for supporting Senate Bill 94 (SB 94), which protects the rights of yoga studios to operate in Arkansas without unnecessary intrusion and regulation by the State Board of Private Career Education. 

Pay It Forward. Support Yoga Alliance's advocacy efforts to make sure that yoga is not only protected in Arkansas, but across the country. Text PROTECTYOGA to 41444 to pledge your support.

Past Updates:


California

Status: Targeting Yoga Studios for Employee Misclassification

Overview:

California’s Economic Development Department (EDD) is targeting yoga studios to determine if their yoga teachers are properly classified as independent contractors or employees. The EDD enforces industries abusing tax laws, auditing and forcing businesses to re-classify independent contractors as employees. A number of yoga studios have received hefty fines from the EDD regarding employee misclassification. California is one of 15 states in agreement to report information about misclassification with the IRS; if a studio is audited by the EDD, it is at risk to be audited by the IRS as well. If a studio loses their audit, which may not review more than the past three years, it is determined to have misclassified its workers and faces fees and back taxes. Each violation may hold a fine between $5,000 and $15,000, in addition to back taxes. 

Get Involved:

Learn How to Protect Yourself and Your Studio. We offer recordings of our past workshops in our video library, Some of the topics covered focus on yoga law, such as:

  • The Horns of the Dilemma: Independent Contractors or Employees?
  • Employees or Independent Contractors?
  • Yoga Law: What You Must Know

Past Updates:

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Colorado

Status: Law Passed to Protect YTTs

Overview:

The Colorado Division of Private Occupational Schools (DPOS) is a division of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and oversees private postsecondary occupational schools. In December, the DPOS began contacting YTTs, informing them they may be subject to regulation and requesting answers to questions about business operations and copies of promotional materials. Yoga Alliance firmly opposed these efforts to impose unnecessary requirements on YTTs and believed the DPOS’s justification for regulating YTTs was misguided and inconsistent with the Division’s mission. Thanks to the efforts of dedicated yogis and our champion legislators in Colorado’s General Assembly, our bill – SB186 – to protect the rights of YTTs passed with overwhelming support. Governor Hickenlooper signed the bill into law in April 2015!

Get Involved:

Send Some Gratitude Send a “thank you” email or call to Sen. Laura Woods, Rep. Alec Garnett and Rep. Tim Dore - the bill sponsors that made this possible.

Pay It Forward. Support Yoga Alliance's advocacy efforts to make sure that yoga is not only protected in Colorado, but across the country. Text PROTECTYOGA to 41444 to pledge your support.

Past Updates:


Illinois

Status: Attempting to Regulate YTTs

Overview:

In recent months, Yoga Alliance has been contacted by members of the Illinois yoga community who are concerned about the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s (IBHE) actions to regulate YTTs as private “vocational” schools. Yoga Alliance is laying the groundwork to advocate on behalf of YTTs in Illinois. 

In February, bills were introduced in both the House of Representatives and Senate to protect YTTs. On March 8, the Illinois Senate Higher Education Committee passed SB 2743 by a vote of 10-0! This legislation, supported by Yoga Alliance, clarifies that the Illinois law governing vocational schools does not apply to yoga teacher training programs (YTTs). Thank you Senator Don Harmon for introducing this bill! We will continue to update you as soon as there is more information.

Get Involved:

Take our brief survey. Let us know if you have been contacted by IBHE, are currently subject to regulations, or would like to be involved in Yoga Alliance’s Illinois efforts. The more information we have, the better.

Sign our petition. Show that you oppose IBHE’s regulation of YTTs by signing this petition. Please also feel free to share your story in the comments section.

Past Updates:


Michigan

Status: Attempting to Regulate YTTs

Overview:

In recent weeks, we have been contacted by members of the Michigan yoga community regarding regulation by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). These regulations require yoga teacher training programs (YTTs) to pay expensive fees and meet numerous regulatory hurdles. Like you, Yoga Alliance is concerned that LARA's requirements are not only unnecessary, but harmful to the yoga community and small businesses in this state.

In early 2016, State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker introduced bill SB 818 in the Michigan State Senate. This newly proposed bill will prevent the state from regulating or imposing burdensome requirements -- meant for private post secondary schools -- on YTTs by exempting yoga instruction and/or yoga teacher teaching from LARA's regulation. On March 23, Senator Tonya Schuitmaker’s bill was passed unanimously (by an 8-0 vote) by the Michigan Senate Regulatory Reform Committee today! We would like to thank Senator Schuitmaker for her support of the Michigan yoga community. Please check back here in the coming weeks for more updates on this bill.

Get Involved:

Watch for updates from us. We will keep you apprised of the status of our bill. In the coming weeks, it will become critical that we make our voices heard. We know that when we send out this call for action, you’ll be ready.

Share the good news. Let your friends, family, and fellow yogis know about these efforts by sharing our updates on Facebook with your networks.

Reach out to YA. We want to hear from you! Please contact us directly to share your story.  You can reach us at yaadvocacy@yogaalliance.org.

Receive text alerts. Text "Michigan Yoga" to 51555 to sign up for free text message alerts whenever more information is available.

Past Updates:


Missouri

Status: Attempting to Regulate YTTs

Overview:

We have been contacted by members of Missouri’s yoga community regarding actions by the Missouri Department of Higher Education (MDHE) to regulate YTTs as “vocational schools” under its Postsecondary School Certification Program. Regulation under this program means that YTTs must comply with extensive requirements and pay expensive fees.

On December 10, 2015, Representative Elijah Haahr pre-filed bill HB 1681 in the Missouri House of Representatives that would prevent state regulators from imposing burdensome and unnecessary regulations on YTTs. Senator Dixon followed suit on January 20, 2016 and introduced a companion bill in the Senate as well. The House version of our legislation, HB 1681, passed through the Emerging Issues Committee and the Committee on General Laws – both by unanimous vote. On February 11, 2016, the Missouri House of Representatives passed HB 1681 146-7. The bill will now move on to the Missouri Senate as bill SB 941. A big thank you to all of the policymakers who supported this legislation for being champions of the Missouri yoga community! We will continue to keep you updated as this bill progresses.

Get Involved 

Let us know if you have been contacted by MDHE or are currently subject to regulations by contacting us at info@yogaalliance.org.

Tell us if you are willing to participate in Yoga Alliance’s efforts to oppose MDHE’s regulation of YTTs. If so, please send your contact information to the email address above. With your support, Yoga Alliance will launch a grassroots advocacy campaign to make sure the voices of yoga programs are heard by regulators and legislators in the state.

Send us the names and contact information of any Missouri state government officials (including legislators) you know or who you believe will be sympathetic to our position that opposes YTT regulation.

Contribute to the Cause. Support Yoga Alliance's advocacy efforts to help us make sure that the integrity and diversity of yoga is protected in Missouri. Text PROTECTYOGA to 41444 to pledge your support.

Past Updates:


New York

Status: Law Enacted to Protect YTTs

Overview:

New York’s Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision is authorized to license all private schools charging tuition in the state according to N.Y. EDUC. Law § 5001(1). Several types of training programs, however, including yoga teacher training, are specifically exempt from this state licensure requirement.

Legal Citation:

N.Y. EDUC. Law § 5001(2)(f): Schools. The following schools are exempted from the licensing requirements of this section: … [] schools which provide instruction with the following subjects only: religion, dancing, music, painting, drawing, sculpture, poetry, dramatic art, languages, reading comprehension, mathematics, yoga, martial arts, Pilates and athletics, including the training of students to teach such subjects, provided, however, that schools conducted for the purpose of training personal trainers shall be excluded from this exemption and shall be required to obtain licensure... [Emphasis added.]


Oklahoma

Overview:

Recently, Yoga Alliance® heard from Oklahoma yoga teacher training schools (YTTs) about their interactions with the state’s Board of Private Vocational Schools. The Board has required some YTTs to obtain licenses meant for vocational or professional schools and pay fees to operate in the state. We have been monitoring the situation, and we want to hear from you!

Please share your experiences and thoughts by taking our brief survey. Your feedback is important to us. We look forward to working with you to support a thriving yoga community in Oklahoma.


South Carolina

Status: YTTs Not Subject to Regulation

Overview:

The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education licenses nonpublic educational institutions in the state according to S.C. CODE ANN. § 59-58-40. Several types of institutions are excluded from this licensing requirement, including those “offering noncredit bearing courses exclusively for avocational purposes.” The Commission has deemed yoga teacher training programs to fall within this exclusion.

Legal Citation:

S.C. CODE ANN. § 59-58-30(5): The definition of “nonpublic educational institution” does not include the following... Institutions offering noncredit bearing courses exclusively for avocational purposes, as determined by the Commissioner.

Guidance from the Commission states that it “does not license programs that train teachers or participants where the programs are primarily personal development, recreational, and non-vocational such as dance, music, art, or yoga.” (See annotations to “Nonpublic Postsecondary Institution License Act,” at 5 n.7.)


Texas

Status: Law Enacted to Protect YTTs

Overview:

According to TEX. EDUC CODE ANN. § 132.001, the Texas Workforce Commission is authorized to license “career school[s] or college[s].” However, several training programs, including yoga teacher training programs, are specifically exempted from the authority of the Commission.

Legal Citation:

TEX. EDUC CODE ANN. §132.005: This chapter does not apply to a school or training program that offers only avocational or recreational instruction or teacher instruction for the following subjects:

  1. dance;
  2. music;
  3. martial arts;
  4. yoga;
  5. physical fitness;
  6. horseback riding;
  7. riflery or other weapon use;
  8. sewing, knitting, or other needlecrafts; or
  9. sports.

[Emphasis added.]


Virginia

Status: Law Enacted to Protect YTTs

Overview:

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia is authorized to set regulations for “postsecondary schools" (VA. CODE ANN. § 23-276.3). Postsecondary schools include entities offering programs for academic, vocational, and continuing professional education purposes. The Virginia state statute, however, clarifies the scope of entities that may be considered “vocational” programs, effectively exempting yoga teacher training schools from regulation.

Legal Citation:

VA. CODE ANN. § 23-276.1: “Vocational” refers to a noncollege degree school that offers only nondegree credit courses, and shall not include instructional programs that are intended solely for recreation, enjoyment, personal interest, or as a hobby, or courses or programs of instruction that prepare individuals to teach such pursuits. [Emphasis added.]


Washington

Overview:

In 2016, Washington yoga teacher training schools (YTTs) contacted us about their interactions with the state’s Workforce Training & Education Coordinating Board. The Board has required some YTTs to obtain licenses that are meant for vocational and career schools and pay annual fees. We have been monitoring this activity, and we want to hear from the Washington yoga community about it.

Please share your thoughts by taking our short survey. We look forward to working with you to support a thriving yoga community in Washington.


Washington, D.C.

Status: Taxing Yoga Studios

Overview:

As of October 1, 2014, yoga studios in the District of Columbia are subject to the so-called “yoga tax,” which imposes a 5.75 percent tax on yoga classes. The Washington, D.C. City Council used broad language so any “fitness club, fitness center, or gym the purpose of which is physical exercise” is included in the legislation. While some practitioners use yoga for fitness, the majority use it to combat stress and anxiety, to improve mental health or for spiritual reasons. At Yoga Alliance, we believe taxing yoga classes in the same category as fitness classes demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose and history of yoga. And in the long run, taxing yoga, health and wellness services hurts citizens and the city.

Get Involved:

Sign This PetitionUrge Mayor Muriel Bowser and your city council members to remove the wellness tax from future budgets.

Learn More:

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