This post has been a long time coming. I can’t tell you how often I get this question from yoga teachers:
“Should I register with Yoga Alliance?”
I get it. No one wants to waste their time or money on something that isn’t actually helpful. And that’s the thing with Yoga Alliance, it takes time and money to register.
Like so many of my posts, this blog isn’t about telling you what to do. It’s about showing you the pros and cons of registering versus non-registering, so that you can make the decision that’s best for YOU. Because, spoiler alert, we all have different needs. And what works for me, might not work for you. Which is why it’s best to come to your decision on your own terms based on the facts that I lay out for you here.
Let’s get into it.
What is Yoga Alliance?
Yoga Alliance is a governing body of the yoga industry that ensures quality control for yoga teacher training programs. Yoga Alliance was founded in 1999 during a time in which modern yoga was really having a big boom in the West.
Prior to Yoga Alliance, there was no regulation of who could teach yoga and who couldn’t. All you really needed to do was be a practitioner who was interested in teaching, and BOOM, you could teach.
The quality of teaching was regulated more by the studios or gyms where teachers were employed, rather than a governing body like Yoga Alliance. That being said, of course these different studios or gyms might have their own requirements for you to teach there.
However, for the most part, the yoga industry was pretty unregulated. Which naturally led to questionable quality, ethics, and safety for students.
Yoga Alliance aims to ensure accessibility, ethics, safety, and quality within the yoga industry. All of which sounds great, right? I mean, who wouldn’t want those things in their classes or trainings.
How Does Yoga Alliance Work?
Yoga Alliance is used for a variety of purposes:
- For teachers to register themselves, and be more discoverable for hiring.
- For yoga schools to register their trainings.
- For students to browse trainings or teachers.
This is where the time and money comes into play. As you can see from their website there are a variety of fees in order to register with Yoga Alliance.
As a teacher, it doesn’t matter if you’ve done a registered yoga teacher training already. You still have to register YOURSELF as a teacher within their system, and pay your own annual fees to stay registered. The same goes for yoga schools.
What’s the Controversy with Registering for Yoga Alliance?
Yoga Alliance has this great mission of serving yogis worldwide with high quality and impeccable ethics. They started with the goal to serve the yoga community as a whole.
The reason so many people are skeptical about if it’s worth it to register with Yoga Alliance is that there are PLENTY of teachers and trainings registered with Yoga Alliance that do NOT serve up the high quality classes, nor uphold admirable ethics.
I know a lot of people who chose to go to a 200 hour yoga teacher training that was registered with Yoga Alliance, but still didn’t feel ready to teach after. So, they signed up for ANOTHER 200 hour training that was NOT registered with Yoga Alliance, and had a much more complete experience.
It seems questionable that Yoga Alliance would be able to actually oversee the thousands of schools. Let alone hundreds of thousands of teachers.
Instead, it’s more like:
If you can pay, then you can register.
The reason this is misleading, and even off-putting to many people, is that there’s this assumption of CREDIBILITY and QUALITY that comes with a Yoga Alliance registered teacher or school. Like this somehow marks that they’re in some way superior to someone who’s not registered. When the truth is, they were just able to pay a fee and fill out some paperwork.
So, is it worth it?
Let’s find out.
Pros of Registering with Yoga Alliance
Let me be clear in saying, I’m not pro-Yoga Alliance. But I’m also not totally against it. Glow Yoga Retreats is a registered yoga school with Yoga Alliance, because when I went through my own pro and con list- this made the most sense for my business, and my students.
If you’re a teacher considering whether you should register with Yoga Alliance, or not- there is a very real factor of getting hired. Now, this will totally depend on where you live, and what the standards are for studios around you.
In the States, for instance, it’s very common to expect yoga teachers to be registered with Yoga Alliance in order to teach in major studios. Whereas, a lot of my European yogis have reported that it’s not as relevant there.
This will really depend on YOUR location. So ask around to get an idea. If there’s a specific studio that you know you want to work in one day, ask what their requirements are before you apply so that you can come in prepared (check out my free guide on how to get hired as a yoga teacher for more hiring tips).
While some studios require a Yoga Alliance registration for employment, others will allow you to choose what’s best for you, with the incentive of higher pay should you choose to register.
Remember, if a studio or employer doesn’t offer higher pay for registration, then you can always ask for it. It’s important to be your own advocate this way in the hiring process. And, there’s an easy argument to make that your pay should be higher to offset the cost you pay for registration.
This same thing goes for yoga schools who are interested in registering with Yoga Alliance. Typically yoga teacher training courses have a slightly higher price point if they’re registered, versus if they’re not. Of course, some of that is covering the registration fee, but the majority of that higher price point is pure profit. This would be a good way to charge a little more for your course for a fair and valid reason.
More Sign Ups
This goes hand-in-hand with higher pay, because more sign ups equal more money. This is helpful particularly for yoga schools interested in registering their yoga teacher training with Yoga Alliance, because-let’s face it- it can be challenging to fill up these kinds of events!
I can tell you personally as someone who has sold courses that are registered, versus non-registered, that my registered courses sold out a lot faster than my non-registered trainings. People would actually tell me it was a deterrent for them in signing up. Why? Because the studios in their area only hire people who have done courses registered with Yoga Alliance!
Yoga Alliance is a platform that anyone can go on to browse registered schools and teachers. This is a place that employers can look for new teachers, and also a place that students can look for teachers with specialties they’re interested in learning from.
We all know that the yoga industry is a saturated industry. Which is why it’s helpful to advertise yourself across multiple platforms to try to stand out. You might just get hired because of it.
Required Registration for YTTs
If you’re a yoga teacher who’s not sure if you want to spend the time logging all of your hours, and continually paying annual fees with Yoga Alliance, AND you know that you want to teach yoga teacher trainings one day- then you need to register.
All yoga schools registered with Yoga Alliance require each teacher who’s involved with the training to be registered with Yoga Alliance, no questions asked. So, if you know you want to teach on YTTs one day, then I’d suggest registering right away and continually logging your hours.
Take it from me. I never registered until I opened my yoga school, and then I had to go back and log almost 10 years of teaching from memory. It would’ve been a lot faster and easier if I had just done it from the beginning.
Cons of Registering with Yoga Alliance
Remember, I’m neutral here. I do have some feelings around the ethics of Yoga Alliance, and certainly have my fair share of frustrating interactions with them. However, I can also acknowledge the entire “pros” section is really helpful from a business perspective.
Waste of Time and Money
Now let’s imagine you’ve registered from the beginning of your yoga teacher journey, but not one of your employers ever asked you to prove your registration. You’ve officially wasted time and money.
And, let me tell you something: I never registered until I registered Glow Yoga Retreats as a yoga school for advanced level trainings. I never registered, because I never needed to. Not one person ever asked me for it.
I was also someone who started teaching retreats from the first year of becoming a yoga teacher. I traveled and taught at retreat centers around the world, and eventually became an online teacher, as well. None of these forms of teaching required me to register with Yoga Alliance, so I didn’t.
I think one of the biggest bummer about Yoga Alliance are the annual fees. It would make a lot more sense if it was only a one-time fee. I think a lot more people would also feel comfortable signing up that way.
If you’re a yoga school registering with Yoga Alliance, you’re looking at HUNDREDS of dollars in renewal fees every year. Not to mention the hefty cost of the application fee itself.
We all know yoga teachers aren’t exactly millionaires, so the annual fee component is a damper in an already low-paying job.
This one is classic for Yoga Alliance: they love to change their rules all the time. It’s really challenging to keep up with the changes as a yoga school registered with Yoga Alliance, especially when the rules themselves aren’t super clear.
This means that just because you registered your course one year, doesn’t mean it will be approved for the next year. Although it’s great that the standards are fluid and evolving with the times, it can also severely impact your curriculum.
One of the most frustrating things about registering with Yoga Alliance is dealing with the disorganization of the business. It’s extremely difficult to get a response from someone. Nearly impossible to book a call for clarity. And there’s also a lot of mixed messages within the communication, as well.
As an example, their website says once you submit your yoga teacher training manual for approval you will get a response in 6 weeks. I submitted mine well in advance, knowing I wanted to launch the course by a certain date, and didn’t hear anything back for 12 weeks. Around week 10 they said something generic about being backed up, and it taking longer than usual.
Of course these things happen. And also, I’m running my own business, and appreciate deadlines being met. Otherwise, I have my students waiting on me, and thinking I’m the one delaying promises.
Is Registering with Yoga Alliance Worth it?
What do you think? Worth it for you? Or not.
The most important thing to remember is that you can always change your mind! Like I said, I didn’t register for the majority of my teaching career. I didn’t register my first in-person YTT, and really didn’t think I ever would, because I didn’t want to give my hard earned dollars to a business that didn’t do anything other than give you a literal stamp of approval.
And then one of my co-teachers reminded me that if I don’t register my course, this can actually hurt my students. It might impact them being able to get a certain job, or needing to repeat their hours with a registered course altogether.
At the end of the day, my mission as a teacher is to serve my students. I registered my yoga teacher trainings with Yoga Alliance so that I could support my students in the best possible way. In registering my yoga school, I was required to register as a teacher, as well.
I’m glad that I have registered, because it HAS helped my students. However, I still don’t think Yoga Alliance is all that it’s cracked up to be.
You do you with registration. You’ve got this.