Yoga Alliance: New Standards for 2020

Whether you’re a student or a teacher, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Yoga Alliance. If you haven’t, here’s some background on the organization: Yoga Alliance was founded in 1999 with a mission to promote yoga teaching in America. The alliance maintains the minimum standards yoga teachers and yoga schools must meet to teach. Today, it holds the largest directory of yoga teachers and schools in the U.S., and one of the most recognizable yoga organizations worldwide.

Yoga Alliance recently updated its standards for Registered Yoga Schools (RYS) and Registered Yoga Teachers (RYT). These are the first changes to these standards in two decades, so this is a really big deal! The changes will affect every yoga school that provides the 200-hour yoga teacher training course. This will also affect how the course is taught in the future.  According to Shannon Roche, President & CEO of Yoga Alliance, these new standards were created to “strengthen our credentials to serve both the teacher and student in today’s ever-changing societal and cultural yoga landscape.”

So what are the changes? We’ve broken it down below for you.

What are the changes for students?

If you have taken the 200-hour course and are a Registered Yoga Teacher, don’t worry! Your credentials are unaffected. However, you will have to agree to the new Code of Conduct and Scope of Practice to keep your certifications valid. You will also have to complete an Equity in Yoga online course, which will count for 10 Continuing Education Credits. You must adopt these changes by February 2020 in order to renew your credentials. 

If you are planning to take the 200-hour course, these changes will affect how the course will be taught to you. Some of these changes are big, like getting rid of no-contact hours. Instead, all 200 hours will be in a classroom setting, with the option to do a maximum of 40 hours in a virtual classroom. Another big change for students is the inclusion of assessments. Students will now have to complete assessments on their knowledge, skills, and experience to graduate from the course.

See a detailed comparison of the old standards versus the new standards here.

What are the changes for schools?

These changes most heavily affect schools that teach the 200-hour Registered Yoga Course. These schools will have to update their syllabi for the course and have it approved by Yoga Alliance one year from their 2020 renewal date (new schools must start applying under the new guidelines by February 2020). Updates to the syllabus must be centered around the new 4 core categories and 13 defined competencies. Schools must also develop and implement assessments in their teaching plans. See a full breakdown of the changes to apply as a Registered Yoga School for a 200-hour course here

Another big change that schools face involves their Lead Instructors. By February 21, 2022, all Lead Trainers of an RYS200 must hold an E-RYT 500 credential (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher, 500 hours). This means that to teach a 200-hour Yoga Teacher course, the Lead Trainer must have completed 500 hours of training, have 2,000 hours of experience in teaching, and have 4 years of teaching experience. Lead Trainers are also required to teach 150 hours of the 200-hour course. Other faculty members and teachers may teach the remaining 50 hours. 


This update means important changes for anyone interested in teaching yoga as a Yoga Alliance certified teacher. And with changes to the Registered Yoga School 300 hour course and 500-hour course coming up in the summer of 2020, how are people responding to the changes?

Some yogis are excited about the changes. As yoga becomes more and more popular, making sure that teachers are able to safely teach their practice is becoming a bigger concern. Having a more standardized curriculum and including assessments in the process will ensure that aspiring teachers are being properly prepared.

Others see the changes as a barrier to certification. Requiring schools to upgrade their curriculum, and to force lead trainers to hold a higher-level credential to teach teacher-training courses, can be a big financial burden. Schools must decide whether they can afford to meet the new standards or if they will offer a teaching certification that is not certified by Yoga Alliance. 

This financial barrier also calls into question Yoga Alliance’s new “Commitment to Equity” in yoga. This commitment is about being able to include as many people in yoga as possible. This includes reducing barriers to learning yoga, such as financial barriers. These enhanced standards are another obstacle for yoga schools that want to provide teacher training. There may be fewer teacher certification courses and schools may have to start charging more for certifications. These changes could reduce the number of people being included in yoga.

What are your thoughts? Do you think these changes will improve the quality of yoga teachers and schools? Or are they just a greater barrier to becoming a certified yoga teacher, and will they slow the spread of yoga? Let us know!

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