Who is affected by licensing?

The State's attempt to license yoga teacher training touches everyone, not just teacher training programs. Yoga classes need yoga teachers, and yoga teachers need training. Without strong training programs, yoga lovers would find it difficult to find classes. Studios that rely on training fees would close, hurting their staff members, landlords and suppliers. Diversity would be lost. The entire yoga community would suffer. 

Does licensing improve quality?

Licensing of vocational programs is chiefly a consumer protection service for those wanting to enroll in the program. The licensing process would give participants recourse in the event a program is canceled or a studio folds and their money is not returned.

It is important to realize that the licensing of yoga teacher trainings as envisioned by BPSS does not have any relation to oversight of the quality of yoga teaching or yoga teacher training, as the license stands now.  No one at BPSS is qualified to judge the merits of a program (other than it has a real schedule) or to assess the quality of a teacher.  There are no assessments of quality of teaching.

What does licensing mean? 

Among the burdens that would be imposed on studios in the licensing process:

  • The Glick bill would have pushed the licensing fee to $5000 for first time licensing.
  • A Certificate of Occupancy, with a cost of up to $20,000
  • Compulsory site inspections, and the potential for fines
  • Financial audits at any time
  • Curriculum supervision: this may require working with a state official at $50/hour to put the curriculum into approved language and format
  • Supporting financial documents and other documents

What other problems are there with licensing?

  1. By making site inspections a part of the license, the State automatically makes it compulsory to have a "domiciled" teacher training, or a fully dedicated space for a teacher training. However, many teacher trainings rent space temporarily while their programs are underway, or take place at hosting facilities such as the NY Open Center or Omega.
  2. Guest teachers are frequently used in yoga teacher training programs. Would guest teacher trainings in fact be legal, since not domiciled?
  3. Visiting teacher trainers from out of state who are conducting trainings at New York State venues (such as Omega, the Open Center, and yoga conferences conducted by Yoga Journal) would also face problems.

In addition: What has received little attention so far is that, in fact, continuing education workshops for the general public of more than five days duration or more than two workshops a year are also cause for licensing! 

Moreover, although the New York State Education Department now stands behind the two bills that await a vote and passage into law exempting Yoga Teacher Trainings from licensing, they have made it clear that they may reconsider their position if we do not succeed in getting these bills passed by the end of 2010. It is therefore urgent that we do everything we can now to make this happen in the next session beginning in January 2010.

What has happened so far?

Read our background on the issue. The first letter threatened us with fines up to $50,000. The bill the State wanted to pass pushed the first cost of licensing up to $5,000. Also, any guest teacher in any teacher training program would also have had to be licensedundefinedde facto teacher licensing.

The "Yoga" bill (A.8678-A/S.5701-A), as it has come to be called, was signed into law by Governor Paterson on March 24, 2010.  Yoga Teacher Trainings are now exempt from government regulation in NY State.

How did our bills get passed?

To ensure that our bills got to the floor for a vote, got passed and signed into law, we retained a lobbyist. We need to raise $35,000 to cover the fee and expenses. Our bills were competing with hundreds of other bills to get to the floor for a vote, and we had to ask Senators and Assembly Members all over the State to support our bill and co-sponsor it.

What do we do now?

Yoga teacher trainings are the first beneficiary of the hard work that Yoga for New York has done on their behalf. A successful legislative strategy spared every teacher training program enormous aggravation as well as licensing fees. Every yoga teacher-training program should do its share and give to the Advocacy Fund. The amount recommended is $50 per student enrolled in teacher training between June 2009 to June 2010. If everyone gives at this level, we will have sufficient funds. If you are under real hardship, please let us know. But please be in touch with us! All of us must work together to make this happen.

Students and teachers have a keen interest in this issue too, since we all want trained teachers to teach us, we want training to become teachers, and we want studios where we can learn to teach and to practice. But the burden of licensing might have shut down teacher trainings, and studios that rely on those funds for operations.

Everyone can become a friend of Yoga for New York; it's just $10. There are over 2000 registered yoga teachers in NY State.  If every teacher joined Yoga for NY at the $10.00 level, we would be within reach of our goal right there! Teachers, studios and teacher trainings can become members at different levels. And all teacher trainings — and all friends of yoga — should also give what they can to the Advocacy Fund, which to made sure the bills got signed into law.

Keep visiting our website for regular updates on the issue, to volunteer and to make donations. It's easy.

Yoga = Union


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