There are a handful of questions that are certain to enter the minds of all freshly certified yoga teachers.
And in the yoga world, the biggest question of all is whether or not to join Yoga Alliance and if there are any benefits to a YA membership.
While it’s not necessary to pay dues for a Yoga Alliance membership just to teach yoga, there are some noteworthy benefits about the membership.
Since few yoga training courses ever talk about YA membership (or the Yoga Alliance standards, for that matter), I thought I’d break it down neatly for the curious yoga student.
I’ll go over what it means to be a certified yoga teacher and what a registered teacher can expect from a YA membership.
What is Yoga Alliance?
Let’s start with a bit of background before we get into the specific Yoga Alliance member benefits.
First, in order to become a Yoga Alliance member, you need to complete a yoga teacher training program with a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga School (RYS), pay the fees (currently an initial $50 application fee plus the $65 annual dues), and review your yoga teacher training program.
You then become a Yoga Alliance member and can call yourself a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT).
As a quick reminder, Yoga Alliance certification may not be so important if you are mostly interested in leading something outside of traditional Hatha yoga or yoga asana. For example, if you’re more interested in teaching children’s yoga, Iyengar yoga, mindfulness, or doing yoga therapy, you might do some research as to whether a Yoga Alliance certification will serve you.
Also, keep in mind that not all Yoga Alliances are the same. “Yoga Alliance” designates the United States-based organization, which is what this post will refer to.
If you’re thinking of teaching somewhere else or live outside the U.S., know that your membership with this Yoga Alliance won’t apply to alliances in other parts of the world (like Yoga Alliance Professionals or Yoga Alliance International for instance). So for example, if you’re an American teaching yoga in Australia, you may want to also explore the benefits of registering with Yoga Australia or Yoga Alliance Australia.
What does Yoga Alliance do?
Yoga Alliance first came together to serve as a sort of governing board that would regulate yoga teacher training program curriculum. To be a registered teacher with Yoga Alliance means that you have completed a yoga training that follows those Yoga Alliance standards. For a yoga studio or yoga center, hiring a certified yoga teacher can help lessen liability issues in the event of something bad happening, like an injury or an accident.
For many years, this was the primary purpose of Yoga Alliance.
But to be a certified yoga teacher by YA does little to improve your teaching skills or knowledge of yoga poses. It also doesn’t protect you as a yoga teacher or improve your skills as a yoga practitioner. You don’t even need to register with Yoga Alliance to be a yoga teacher. Instead, it mostly serves as an online registry of yoga schools, studios, and teachers that pay YA fees.
For these reasons, Yoga Alliance has come under major scrutiny in the yoga world, causing the organization to basically rebuild its offerings and standards. I’ll talk about the Yoga Alliance benefits in this post.
Does Yoga Alliance provide insurance?
Yoga Alliance offers yoga teacher and yoga studio insurance through Alliant Insurance, but it is not a part of their membership. Members can get insurance at a discounted price. There are many other yoga insurance options at comparable prices, though.
Is Yoga Alliance certification necessary?
No. The main benefit, if any, of a Yoga Alliance membership is that your name will be listed in its online registry of yoga teachers. For some yoga studio or yoga school owners, this serves as a baseline application requirement for new yoga teachers. Outside of those positions that require a YA membership, there is no requirement to be a Yoga Alliance member.
Yoga Alliance Member Benefits
1. Free Online Education
A Yoga Alliance membership grants you access to free continuing education via their articles, videos, and online workshops on topics such as yoga theory, yoga asana, teaching methodology, and yoga philosophy. Also included is access to their “Index of Yoga Research” and member newsletter where they post about industry trends, relevant current events, and yoga-related scientific research.
2. Free Online Support Resources
RYTs have access to a member website that offers financial and business resources, events calendars, and member updates. They also provide health information (think: COVID-19 related guidance for yoga studios) and relevant extras such as currently sharing social justice resources. It’s worth noting that you can access that site with or without a membership, though.
3. A Listing in the Yoga Alliance Directory
A Yoga Alliance membership allows you to create a profile in their online directory of Registered Yoga Teachers and Registered Yoga Schools. Here RYTs can publish their credentials to share with potential employers and students. Yoga Alliance also describes this as a marketing platform for qualified teachers to expand their reach and gain visibility for things like recruitment for leading a yoga teacher training course or yoga retreat.
4. Discounts on Yoga Products and Services
Yoga Alliance members receive discounts aimed to support yoga practitioners and yoga studios. Their website mentions 35+ partners providing discounts on things such as liability insurance, yoga gear, Ayurvedic supplements, Kids Yoga Stories, and yoga-related education. Truthfully, this is probably the best benefit they offer but also goes against conscious consumerism, arguably an important modern consideration for yoga practitioners.
5. Community Connection
Yoga Alliance suggests using their network as a way to connect with other yoga professionals to create community and promote offerings through Yoga Alliance community meet-ups and social media. At the moment, there are no private events for members. Though you can join YA events on their public page, yourya.org/events, for free.
Yoga Alliance lists this as a benefit, saying that they advocate for the interests of their schools and teachers and support them in doing so for themselves. How this benefit practically or regularly aids the member is less clear as it looks like it’s just a resource page for more information about laws in your state.
7. Yoga Alliance Foundation
The Yoga Alliance Foundation is described as broadening access to yoga’s healing potential (it appears primarily through their “Index of Yoga Research” mentioned in benefit one), fostering equity and diversity in the yoga community, and expanding educational, and economic opportunities for yoga teachers. The primary, tangible way this benefit currently seems to assist members is the application-based emergency fund for those in the yoga community undergoing extreme hardship due to COVID-19. Though the foundation website is public and it doesn’t look like aid is specifically reserved for YA members.
I hope this information helps you make the right choice for you!
Anchoring into ourselves and our individual needs, goals, and means amidst a world full of persuasion, information, and options can be part of the yoga practice itself.
Remember, ultimately it’s not up to Yoga Alliance, your yoga instructor certification program, or favorite senior teacher to make you a good teacher… it’s up to you!\. Of course, those things can help your ability to instruct a yoga class, but your certification is just the beginning of the journey. From there, how you improve your yoga teaching skills through your unique path of study, practice, and application is entirely up to you.