How Helpful or Useful is Yoga Alliance? The Pros & Cons

written by Crunch Ranjani

Well-known among yoga teachers, Yoga Alliance is the largest nonprofit association representing the yoga community. It has over 7,000 Yoga Schools and more than 100,000 Yoga Teachers around the world listed in its registry.

Yet, there is often confusion about what Yoga Alliance is, and whether it is truly helpful or beneficial to be a part of this organization.

In this article, we explore some of the commonly raised benefits and shortcomings that yoga teachers in The Connected Yoga Teacher Facebook Group have shared in response to the question almost every new (and some experienced) yoga teacher asks themselves:

“Should I join Yoga Alliance?”

Yoga in Schools - image of classroom

What Is Yoga Alliance?

Founded in 1999 in the US as a voluntary registry for yoga teachers and yoga schools who met their standards, Yoga Alliance is a useful and helpful resource for students looking for yoga teachers in their area, or for people looking to find Yoga Schools. For yoga teachers, it is also a place to look up Continuing Education courses and additional Yoga Teacher Trainings to further their expertise and develop specializations. 

Among other things, Yoga Alliance advocates for the “yoga community’s protection from unfair or unnecessarily burdensome patents, taxation, or government regulation” and aims to foster accountability through a system of feedback. In summary, Yoga Alliance seeks to promote and support the high quality, safe, accessible, and equitable teaching of yoga.

**Note that Yoga Alliance is a US-based organization and is not affiliated in any way with a number of other similarly named organizations found internationally.

Becoming a Member of Yoga Alliance

In order to be a part of Yoga Alliance, yoga teachers must have completed their training at a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga School (RYS), in addition to paying the application and annual membership fees. This allows them to identify themselves as a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT).

For yoga schools to be a part of Yoga Alliance, they have to offer Yoga Teacher Trainings that fulfill a core curriculum, requirements for length of training, and other criteria. Once approved, Registered Yoga Schools can maintain their registration as long as they continue to pay the fees. There are no ongoing reviews or verification that ensure that standards are maintained.

Yoga Alliance members can also apply to be considered as a Continuing Education Provider (YACEP) who are eligible to offer courses and trainings to other yoga teachers as a part of their continuing learning and professional development.

Yoga in Schools - image of classroom

Benefits of Registering with Yoga Alliance

Yoga in Schools - image of classroom

Apart from being listed in an easily-searchable registry of yoga teachers and yoga schools, which could be great for new teachers starting out in terms of additional visibility, yoga teachers who are members of Yoga Alliance enjoy a variety of other benefits.

The YA CommUnity is a members-only online space for yoga professionals to share information, resources, and experiences, and Yoga Alliance also organizes events for yoga teachers to foster connection, education, and community. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Yoga Alliance has begun offering a variety of resources and online events, including Continuing Education programs for yoga teachers. Members of Yoga Alliance also enjoy discounts from a number of Yoga Alliance Partners, such as Manduka, OfferingTree, YogaU and more.

As a result of being a part of the yoga world for more than two decades, the Yoga Alliance name holds some weight in the health and fitness industry, and among more aware students and practitioners of yoga. Yoga teachers may find that being registered with Yoga Alliance lends some credibility to their name, and yoga schools may also be interested in registering with Yoga Alliance to afford their students the opportunity to eventually join Yoga Alliance in the future.

For yoga teachers planning to offer Yoga Teacher Trainings, Yoga Alliance can provide helpful feedback to navigate the syllabus, and hone in on the goals and objectives of the training. Some yoga teachers who have gone down this path found it to be a useful way of having their training peer-reviewed by an objective third-party.

Yoga Alliance has also stepped up quickly to offer yoga teachers resources to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, and have also helped yoga teachers out when barriers come up. Yoga teachers who are members of Yoga Alliance have also commented that being a part of the organization lends the industry as a whole credibility.

**Note that despite what many yoga teachers think, it is not necessary to be a member of Yoga Alliance in order to get liability insurance.

Shortcomings and Limitations of Yoga Alliance

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While there are benefits to being a part of Yoga Alliance, some yoga teachers have found that there are some shortcomings that should be considered. 

An often cited limitation of Yoga Alliance is that it is often mistaken for a credentialing or licensing organization, but in actual effect, fulfills neither of these functions. While there are guidelines in place for yoga teachers and yoga schools to be registered with Yoga Alliance, many experienced yoga teachers have indicated that the standards are extremely low. 

The minimum requirement to become a RYT with Yoga Alliance is merely to complete a 200-hour course, and there are no tests or independent evaluations to ensure that the RYTs are equipped and qualified to teach yoga. In addition to that, there is little or no regular oversight to ensure that standards are upheld or that the curriculum proposed is followed after the initial approval. As such, Yoga Alliance has been compared to a “membership club” or the equivalent of a Chamber of Commerce for yoga teachers.

Some former members of Yoga Alliance also lamented the lack of networking events and yoga conferences, and commented that being registered with Yoga Alliance did not help improve their chances of getting hired by yoga studios where auditions and demonstrations tend to be the norm. Among those offering teacher trainings and managing yoga schools, some felt that their offerings far exceeded the minimum requirements of Yoga Alliance, and that they did not see any real benefit of being a member as they did not feel supported by Yoga Alliance in their work.

Additionally, yoga teacher trainings taken with yoga schools or yoga teachers that are not registered with Yoga Alliance (including reputable yoga schools in India and abroad) are not recognized by the organization. This has resulted in yoga teachers with years of experience not being able to register with Yoga Alliance.

Alternatives to Yoga Alliance

In place of being a member of Yoga Alliance, some yoga teachers have chosen instead to join other yoga-related organizations. Some have chosen to register themselves with their local yoga association such as Canadian Yoga Alliance or Yoga Australia, while others have gone the route of joining International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT), which provides a good resource base of research publications, articles and other yoga-related information.

For yoga teachers who specialize in a particular tradition of yoga, an alternative to Yoga Alliance would be an organization associated with your yoga tradition, such as the International Kundalini Yoga Teachers Association (IKYTA) and B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States (IYNAUS).

Recently launched Yoga Unify is also positioning itself as an alternative to Yoga Alliance. A non-profit, participatory organization, Yoga Unify seeks to recognize the skill and expertise of yoga teachers through peer review, and support the yoga community with mentorship and clear pathways to learning.

Should You Join Yoga Alliance?

Shannon Crow, Host of The Connected Yoga Teacher Podcast recommends asking yourself some questions to help you decide, including but not limited to:

✔️ Do you want to teach Yoga Teacher Training?

✔️ Are you looking to offer Continuing Education credits?

✔️ Do discounts on yoga products / equipment / software appeal to you?

✔️ Is being a member of a recognized yoga community important to you?

✔️ Do you need the credibility that Yoga Alliance offers?

At the end of the day, the decision to join Yoga Alliance is a personal one and depends on weighing the pros and cons for your own situation, your career progression, and goals as a yoga teacher or yoga teacher trainer.

Are you a member of Yoga Alliance? What are your thoughts on it? Share them in the comments!

About the Author

Crunch Ranjani is a copywriter & editor who specializes in writing content for health & wellness professionals.
She loves to travel and has been a digital nomad since 2013.
Visit Crunch's website.