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As many of you know, due to the changing world around us and the need to modernize the yoga standards upheld by the Yoga Alliance, many changes took place in 2020 regarding those standards. As those changes continue to evolve there is more information to keep up with in 2021.

Since last year was one of the most tumultuous years we have experienced in recent history, you may have missed this information or felt completely overwhelmed by it.

So, let’s take a moment to look at the main changes that took place in 2020 –

  • Elevated standards for the Registered Yoga School 200 Credential
  • A strengthened application and review process
  • A member-wide ethical commitment to uphold the dignity and inclusivity of yoga.

If you are a member of the Yoga Alliance, you have already been informed of these updates. However, it can be overwhelming to keep up with all the changes taking place so to avoid any confusion and additional stress, here is a breakdown of what to expect this year.

Application Standards

As stated in this article last year, the application standards for Registered Yoga Schools is a lot harder. It is worth looking into these changes if you haven’t had the opportunity yet.

Basically, these application changes require a letter of intent from the registered yoga school and all lead trainers, a breakdown of the syllabus, hour allocation, daily schedule, teaching materials, ratio of students to trainers, copies of policies, and a sample certificate.

For current registered yoga schools, the Legacy application upgrade deadline is the biggest change to be aware of at this moment. Due to the impact of COVID-19 on the yoga community, the previously stated dates and deadlines are currently under review for upgrading to the new standards. The Yoga Alliance will send updated information as it is available.

However, all new yoga schools need to apply with the new standards.

At this time, according to the Yoga Alliance website, their future work entails new standards for the elevation of the 300 and 500 hour teacher training programs.

We will keep you posted as we learn more about those.

Lead Trainer Requirements

To comply with the new standards, there are three areas that have changed for Lead Trainers.

  • All lead trainers need to have the E-RYT 500 credential instead of the previous E-RYT 200 credential. This change is due in large part to the need to maintain consistency, safety, and quality support to newly trained yoga teachers by experienced teachers who have a strong background in all aspects of yoga.
  • Schools can have up to 5 Lead Trainers instead of the previous up to 2 maximum.
  • Lead Trainers must teach up to 150 of the 200 hours of training instead of the previous 65-hour requirement.

The Ethical Commitment 

Since February 27, 2020 whether applying or renewing your registered yoga school or registered yoga teacher membership in the Yoga Alliance, all members are required to sign and follow an ethical commitment.

This commitment is reflected in the following three elements – Code of Conduct, Scope of Practice, and Equity in Yoga.

As stated by the Yoga Alliance, “The Ethical Commitment will not be just words on paper but rather married with thoughtful action over time. Today, it is woven throughout the Code of Conduct and Scope of Practice. It’s built into the core curriculum now at the heart of our standards. It’s reflected in the strengthened application requirements as well as initial accountability processes. And soon, the tenets of the Ethical Commitment will be reflected in the grantmaking framework for the relaunched Yoga Alliance Foundation and evident in the introductory Equity in Yoga course we’re developing alongside experts and leaders in the field of equity.”

2021 Online Exemptions  

Great news and seemingly the biggest to be aware of for this year! The online teaching exemption that was started in 2020 has been extended through 2021! Registered Yoga Schools have between now and September 2021 to submit their application for online teaching programs.

Download the Online Teaching Ebook

According to the Yoga Alliance website, the participation requirements for RYS are broken down into the following areas –

  • Informing future standards by completing surveys provided by the Yoga Alliance and allowing the Yoga Alliance to survey trainees and trainers.
  • Following the Yoga Alliance online learning best practices.
  • Providing access to online teacher training materials upon request in order to inform online standards in the future.
  • Agreeing to opt-in to the YA Community, an inclusive peer-to-peer online space designed for members to share information, resources, and experiences and develop meaningful personal and professional relationships.

According to the Yoga Alliance website, the curriculum requirements for RYS are broken down into the following areas –

  • Format: Online programs are required to have a blend of synchronous and asynchronous teaching.
  • Hours with Lead Trainer(s): At least 50% of the total hours, regardless of format, must be taught by the LT(s).
  • Lead Trainer Maximum: A maximum of 5 LT per training.
  • Competency assessment: Must clearly describe methods of testing trainees' competency in synchronous and asynchronous spaces.

Community Conversations

Due to the overwhelming response from the yoga community requesting community-wide dialogues on critical topics within yoga, the Yoga Alliance has decided to offer more community conversations.

As the Yoga Alliance states regarding this update, “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.”

A lot has changed in the world over the past year and teaching yoga is no exception. The fact that yoga provides a firm foundation to be resilient throughout times of change and turmoil is a true practice to honor.

These updated Yoga Alliance standards set the foundation for yoga teachers to have the skills to share this practice with others in a safe, diverse, equitable, and inspiring manner.

For more information about the new Yoga Alliance standards click here.

Michelle Finerty
Michelle Finerty
Michelle has been writing professionally for over a decade. She started in the business world, focusing on cross-cultural communication and technical writing, and is now infusing the teachings of yoga with modern life, blending two of her passions...yoga and writing. Michelle also teaches yoga. Receiving her teacher training in Vinyasa Yoga in 2007 and adding Prenatal and Kids Yoga after becoming a mother. In her spare time, Michelle likes to meditate, hike, and read.