Launch of the Ethical Commitment and a Strengthened Era of Accountability
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Last Updated: February 27, 2020
Over the course of the 18-month, community-led Standards Review Project (SRP) and in the months following, we received a call to action from our membership and the broader yoga community asking for community-wide dialogues on critical topics within yoga. These conversations will be convened in support of the challenges within the profession of yoga teaching and the opportunities for growth so that our practice can continue to evolve with this ancient practice and its modernized needs.
Three initial topics arose:
- “What is yoga?”;
- The roles of power and empowerment within yoga; and
- Equity in yoga.
What is Yoga?
Yoga Alliance does not believe there is one static definition of yoga that encompasses all lineages, styles, and methodologies or fully encompasses every person’s individual beliefs and experiences. It is also not necessarily Yoga Alliance’s role to do so. In celebration of the full spectrum of yoga, we will engage in important conversations with the community on “What is yoga?” to gain a greater understanding of the breadth and depth of this incredible practice and how it resonates with all.
Power and Empowerment within Yoga
Yoga Alliance believes that every individual has the right to practice yoga free from harassment, abuse, and manipulation. In 2017, we addressed the issue of sexual misconduct in yoga head-on, updating our Grievance and Sexual Misconduct policies, up-leveling our internal accountability procedures, and identifying resources on sexual misconduct in support of our members and the broader yoga community.
In 2020, we launched a shared Ethical Commitment that unifies all Yoga Alliance members around principles to foster safe and respectful guidelines for the profession of yoga teaching and to ensure that Registered Yoga Schools (RYSs) and Registered Yoga Teachers (RYTs) maintain a high level of teaching ability and accountability. In addition to a shared responsibility to equity in yoga, this three-pronged commitment includes an updated Code of Conduct and new Scope of Practice that reference behaviors befitting of a yoga teacher and include elements such as student-teacher relationships and consent-based touch.
We are moved by those in our community who have raised their voices and taken a stand. Inspired by their bravery and leadership, we commit ourselves to continuing to learn from them and their experiences, We, too, must act—joining our community's efforts to expand the awareness of power imbalances that exist in yoga spaces and shift the conversation from one of power in yoga to that of empowerment in yoga.
Equity in Yoga
Over the last two years, we have engaged in honest dialogue with many yoga schools, teachers, practitioners, and even non-practitioners about their candid stories emphasizing the need for a more equitable yoga environment—especially for those who have been impacted by inequities. These insights are the foundation of our continuing learning and efforts to work alongside others to increase equity in yoga within our membership and throughout the broader yoga community.
We have been honored to have these informative exchanges to learn about their experiences, their encounters with inequitable treatment, and the need for more welcoming, supportive, inclusive, and accessible yoga spaces. We recognize the many challenges that we as Yoga Alliance face and that this is the first step of many to come. In the spirit of svadhyaya, we also recognize the discomfort of this work and embrace it, continuing our self-study as we engage in continuous reflection, education, and training along this lifetime of learning.
As the third prong in our Ethical Commitment, Yoga Alliance members will have a shared awareness of and responsibility to increase equity in yoga. We will no longer sit on the sidelines and rather will strive to amplify the voices, experiences, and work of those who continue to guide it through this process of learning and expanding our awareness and responsibility.
How Did We Get from Inclusion to DIAE to Equity?
By focusing on equity, we are able to center our work around facilitating change in the areas of diversity, accessibility, and inclusivity. This emphasis on equity aligns our hopes for everyone to have access to resources and support as well as recognizes that there will be distinct work required to ensure all communities are able to leverage opportunities across the training, teaching, business, and practice of yoga.
Please read our position on equity
for more information.