Dear Yoginis, Yogis, and Yoga Teachers, namaste.
I am writing to share with you why I have chosen NOT TO RENEW my Yoga Alliance membership as of September 30th, 2020.
I joined the Yoga Alliance (YA) in 2006, about 2 years after completing my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training with the amazing Yogrishi Vishveketu (back in those days, he was still Vishva). I was teaching in the Ottawa yoga community very much on my own. I had contracts through many organizations, but did not teach at a studio with other teachers. I was a true “independent” contractor. I loved every minute of it, and yet, sometimes it was hard and lonely.
Being such a new teacher, I needed community and support. So I signed up with YA. Back then, the organization was much smaller. I had my own contact person, Jacqueline Gray, who knew me by name and that I could call if something was up, or if I had questions. She even reached out every once in a while to simply check in.
That was a long time ago, and a lot has changed since then. Isn’t it strange when you do something long enough to think about it in decades?
I have a changed a lot since 2006. Since then, I have run over 30 professional yoga certification programs at the 200-hr and 300-hr level on my own. I created a yoga school through which these programs could be offered. I have mentored yogis to become yoga teachers (hundreds of students) and even yoga teacher trainers. I have taken thousands of hours of training, and I have taught over ten thousand hours of classes and programs. I have written and published two books and a workbook. I have been published in the Ayurvedic Journal of Health and have presented to the membership of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association. I am part of a large yoga community that spans the globe, where I can connect with other skilled and professional yoga teachers of all traditions IN PERSON and they can reach out to me. I have expanded my knowledge base beyond Yoga to the VEDAS, studying Ayurveda in depth, and now deepening into Sanskrit and beginning my journey into Jyotisha (Vedic astrology). And through all of this I have developed real relationships with teachers in a variety of traditions – from Buddhist meditation, to Yoga, to Ayurveda, to Jyotisha, and beyond – to support me as a student and practitioner of these powerful and transformative Vedic Sciences.
Those of you who know me, know that I believe the student teacher relationship is not only sacred, it’s paramount to success on the path. We cannot see our own blind spots (our darkness), this is why we need the energy of a guru (dispeller of darkness). I have put forth the efforts to cultivate relationships with my own teachers, as well as teachers in my community that have 20 to 30 years of practice and teaching on me. I now have a whole other level of support.
The YA has also changed a lot since 2006. And for a lot of yogis, this is great and aligns with their values and needs, much like it once did with me. It simply does not align with my values any longer.
What I’ve come to realize over the past 15 years is that being registered with the Yoga Alliance does not make one a good teacher, nor does it make a yoga teacher training good. It also doesn’t make them bad. Just like a teacher or program that is not registered doesn’t make them good or bad. I’m not interested in supporting an organization that excludes yogis because their trainings weren’t registered even if the training matches and fulfills the criteria. I have met some phenomenal teachers who’ve never done a YA training. I’ve also taken some YA recognized trainings where people were mistreated, ignored, and even abused. Given all of this, the registration and recognition isn’t meaningful for me anymore.
Being registered with the Yoga Alliance actually limits my ability to modify and adapt my trainings to the needs of my current student base. In the words of my friend Susi, rigidity is a false stability. Turns out I value the needs and growth of my students more than a set of standards. It’s not that I am anti-standards, not at all. However, when standards are established and no one actually checks in on the participants to make sure that the standards are being adhered to, when certificates get issued on payment instead of upon course completion, and when some people from unregistered trainings are allowed to join but others aren’t – my pitta gets irritated and it’s time for me to choose something else.
I also find it interesting that in all the time I’ve been teaching – teaching all over – no one has ever asked me if I am with the Yoga Alliance. I suspect they figured out long before I did that being registered is not indicative of quality or skill. I own a Yoga School – I’ve hired dozens of yoga teachers over the years – and being registered with the Yoga Alliance was never a requirement.
So I choose Vedic Sciences – not only Yoga, but the integration of Yoga, Yoga Therapy, Ayurveda, Jyotisha and any other Vedic sciences I am blessed to get a teacher to show me. I choose the community that I have grown into over the past 15 years. I choose my real-life teachers: Larry, Anushaji, Larissa, Susi, and Vishvaji. I choose my real-life peers: Veronica, Josh, Kathryn, Andrea, Emilie, Jamie, Perri, Jackieji, Johnny, Tanya, Daniel, and Dan. I choose my students.
I will continue to offer Yoga Teacher Trainings programs of the best caliber that I can with what I know, they simply won’t be Yoga Alliance Registered. Certificates will be issued to those who complete the requirements. The programs that I will continue to offer are the same programs that the Yoga Alliance happily took my payments for over 14 years … I simply no longer feel the need nor desire to pay for this perceived credibility. I have worked hard to become a skilful, compassionate, and capable Yoga Teacher, Yoga Teacher Trainer, Ayurvedic-Yoga Therapist, Ayurvedic Practitioner, and decent human… Hopefully that is just as meaningful as my once held Yoga Alliance membership.
I understand that this means some of us won’t get to work together. I remember when the YA was important to me, so I get it. I hope you find a wonderful program that gets you where you need to be.
I know some of us will learn together for many more decades – I look so very forward to this honour.
With so much love,
dated: August 5th, 2020