Published on December 7, 2011 by      Print
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By Laura Riggs

Many students used to ask me, “What does it mean to be an RYT or E-RYT?”

The PC answer: “According to Yoga Alliance, the reported ‘professional’ organization for yoga instructors, these labels mean ‘Registered Yoga Teacher’ or ‘Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher,’ and if you have any interest in earning either of these two labels, then you have undoubtedly done some research into attending a training with a RYS: ‘Registered Yoga School,’”

However, I am now a former E-RYT who led many of these 200-hour TTs for RYTs at a RYS, and I can attest to the reality that this is all just a bunch of marketing BS by YA to get your GWs so that you can add one of these ambiguous labels to the end of your name.

Labeling is an easy way to provide students with a false sense of security that a particular teacher or school has a certain level of education or experience that other teachers/schools may not.  This, to me, is sort of like believing that the TSA has bolstered our level of security for air travel.  I read a post recently from a concerned yogi about teachers who are not registered with YA falsifying their accreditation by adding the label RYT to the end of their name.  Rather than focusing on whether or not a few teachers are on the “cool kids” list, I would ask why these teachers opted out of the registry in the first place.  Now, it could be that they have opted to donate their funds to a more worthwhile cause instead — like rescuing whales, helping starving children in Africa or earthquake victims in Turkey, or assisting with the massive EU bailout.

Since yoga instructors make next to nil when it comes to teaching yoga classes, I think the ones who have opted to not throw away $55-75/year on a meaningless, commercialized label are brilliant.

I have worked with many wonderful teachers who have opted to stay as far away from YA as possible and they are, in most cases, more qualified to guide a yoga class (or lead a teacher training) than many of the teachers currently listed in the YA registry.  Reason being: YA lacks sufficient internal structure to monitor and hold the registered teachers and schools accountable in order to uphold the standards they have allegedly established.  Furthermore, these so-called standards do not give any weight or bearing toward the qualifications actually needed to guide a yoga class in a knowledgeable, empowering, safe and ethical manner.

Yoga Alliance spends too much time fighting local governments to actually focus on reigning in yoga schools so that they abide by a set of standards that could actually give the profession some foundation of credibility.  Granted, yoga is a spiritual system, which makes it difficult for me to resolve the philosophical conflict between having government get involved with the conduct of yoga teachers/ schools versus being repeatedly and severely injured by so-called teachers who have absolutely no business assisting students.  There currently are NO legal requirements that yoga teachers actually be good teachers before they step into a classroom and start jacking with people’s effed up bodies.

The ability to effectively assist a student requires a great deal of knowledge about physical anatomy and the understanding of how to modify a practice for various injuries — similar to that of a massage therapist or chiropractor. So many of us start practicing yoga because we are too injured to continue with whatever other sport brought us to our doctor to begin with, at which point, said doctor advised us to “go to yoga; it will be good for you.” But while other healing professions require rigorous study, followed by a series of tests, in order to gain legal license to safely practice skills on the general public, yoga teachers are not legally bound to obtain any sort of education, seek out certification, or carry any type of licensing whatsoever.  Your hairstylist has more accreditation than your “guide to obtaining spiritual enlightenment” and increased health and wellness.

I realize that we are an externally focused society, but are you f***king kidding me?

At minimum, a licensed massage therapist needs 600 hours of training on the physical anatomy alone.  Current YA standards only ask teachers to have 20 hours (less than one full day), which includes how to assist students safely.  So where do the remaining 180 hours of a 200-hour training go?

Good question, because the guidelines outlined by YA are fairly obscure: for example, 100 hours of class time must be logged. But many schools, the one I unfortunately worked for included, cheat their students out of official YA Standard hours.  As defined by YA, an “hour” counts only if the class was conducted for trainees only, and not for the general public, by an E-RYT — not a studio manager or any other “unqualified” teacher.  So, if you got corralled into the 5 o’clock class with your mat overlapping that of 85 of your closest friends, taught by the latest and greatest hot young thing, it technically did NOT count toward your 200- or 500-hour certification.  Nor do your hours count if the session was to be led by promised master instructor Shiva Squat, but instead was taught by Mr. 1,001 Handstands-and-Call-it-a-Yoga-Practice.

Schools often do not adhere to these standards for two reasons:

  1. It does not make financial sense to cancel classes on the schedule just because 40-50 (or sometimes 100) students paid thousands of dollars to participate in a legitimate training, when the studio has the opportunity to earn an additional $500/class minimum by allowing the public to participate, and
  2. Yoga Alliance will not monitor the quality of the programs delivered by said “registered schools.”  I highlight here the “will not.” instead of “do not.” I made a few calls to YA some time ago to question the ethics of this practice by many RYS TT programs.  I learned that YA “does not get involved with disputes between teachers/trainees and schools, you must speak to the head of the program directly about this.”

Uh… I am (or at least was) the head of the program, so now what? Talk to the owner of the studio? Yep, done that, and got this response: “All YA cares about is that you think someone is ready to teach; it really doesn’t matter if they complete the 200-hour training.”  Of course, my reply was that none of the trainees were ready to teach. They had been shorted an education they invested in and desperately needed.

As you can imagine, this was not exactly in alignment with the financial plans the studio had. Especially when the ultimate goal of the TT program was to upsell current trainees on investing in subsequent and equally mediocre programs.

My concerns over the lack of responsibility on behalf of the school went completely ignored by the YA staff.  That is, of course, until it was time for me to renew my E-RYT registration.  After numerous mailers and phone calls from some lovely sales interns over at YA, I gently but adamantly refused to renew my registration because no reply had been given yet to these issues that I had raised over the integrity (or lack thereof) in our “profession” – a term I use loosely these days.  Six months later, YA still hasn’t called me back… but they still send me renewal notices in the mail.

I commend the teachers who are not registered with YA.

It is a waste of time, effort and money.  The instructors who add integrity to the profession of teaching yoga don’t tout that they are card-carrying members of the YA. They simply show up, act professional, seek out meaningful education on a continual basis, and serve their students.  As a student, how do you find this type of teacher?  Ask questions and pay attention.  If the teacher is unable or unwilling to help you, this is a good indication that they might be an RYT, and therefore possibly not qualified to guide you on your spiritual growth, as they have yet to face the truth in their own life — that yoga isn’t always sunshine and unicorns — and sometimes it takes honesty to see things as they really are, say that they are broken, and be willing to do the thankless work of trying to correct them.

About Laura Riggs

Laura started practicing yoga roughly ten years ago and began teaching five years ago.  She left a successful career in advertising to teach yoga full-time because she decided it would be totally rad to pretend she was 21 again. She managed two large studios for the past two years, led many teacher trainings, and enjoyed having her soul sucked out of her. Now that the LSD in the Kool-Aid they had her drink before work each day has worn off, she is relieved to be rid of a company that believes first in money and second in “speaking your truth” — so long as it agrees with “our truth” because “our truth” can kick “your truth’s” ass!  She does admit there are days that she still checks the studio’s yoga schedule and experiences flashbacks – only to be grateful she no longer has to manage the severely undereducated teachers trying their best to fulfill the studio’s mandate to “Bring the Sexy Back” to yoga. Last time she checked herself, before she wrecked herself, yoga was never sexy to begin with…..

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  1. Jenifer says:

    When I left YA, it was for the same reasons. It was sometime around 2003.

    I tell students whom approach me about YA that I’m happy to fill out the paperwork with them. I have no problem filling out paperwork. But, I explain that I do not specifically choose to work with YA and why — listed in your article — and that their registry may only be important as a business decision (some gyms, for example, won’t hire you unless you are registered).

    If a teacher is trying to support themselves via yoga, it may be valuable to get RYT for the first year or two after training while you establish your reputation. Once I was working in the gyms (I had RYT 500 from 2001 until 2003) and had a good reputation there, it was easy for me to get jobs in other gyms. I also worked in studios and had independent classes.

    So, after a year or two of establishing myself, letting that cost go (plus the frustration around QA and due process) was a sound business decision. Up front, it might be sound to pay it for the first year or so.

    But, it needs to be a business decision. And it needs to be a conscious decision.

  2. mat says:

    It’s about the same in Europe, just different people screwing over other different people…

  3. linda says:

    my own rant about YA is here: http://lindasyoga.com/2011/10/06/yoga-in-omerika-what-95-buys/ — I wrote about it in October.

    I let my YA registration lapse years ago, but if you read my blog, you will see why I reinstated it this year. Yes, it IS a bunch of shit, HOWEVER, in my area, those stupid letters are what people look for in a TT because students have been scammed into believing it’s somehow of value.

    Yes, the guidelines are just that…only guidelines. and guess what? YA won’t accept all my hours of training with Desikachar and his senior teachers (since 2005) because his school is not a REGISTERED SCHOOL WITH YA! REALLY?!?

    It’s all f*cked up, what can I tell you?

    • Laura says:

      Oh girl – save yourself some mula, most TTs don’t have “accredited RYTers” anyway. If you do a search by name on everyone who assists with a training you will find more than likely the school has one person registered and the remaining support staff are not YA “certified”. I say use the letters anyway, because YA doesn’t follow up on it. ;)

  4. WTH? RYT, E-RTY Not A BFD? – Down Dog and Cats says:

  5. John B says:

    Wow…I had no idea it was so complicated to find a great yoga teacher. Silly me, I just walked into McYoga (“cause it was walking distance from work. That’s how I make lots of my decisions), signed up and ended up with you…seemed pretty easy. I must be the Forrest Gump of Yoga students.

    If only I’d known about YA, RYT & LSD (Oh, wait, I do know about that one), my doctor really did say, “Do Yoga”. So I did.

    • Jenifer says:

      To be sure, JohnB, convenience is a big reason why people choose an initial studio. And if they like what they experience, they’ll stay — not knowing the quality or what have you.

      But, you know what? Cream will rise. Quality will show itself.

      After a student has more practice and experience, they begin to notice whether or not their teacher is a ‘good’ teacher, or “not a good teacher for them” or “not so great a teacher, possibly great for other people” teacher, and so on. This, actually, is how Recovering Yogi was born, if you think about it.

      I remember my first time at my reason-for-RY-membership studio. It was such a great, strong practice. And the more I did it, the more I liked it. The more I became aware of studio politics, the more that i noticed that the only strong yoga taught was asana. Since I wanted more than that, I needed to find another place to practice.

      I think this is normal. I point out to people that you can tell the ‘really great’ teachers from the ‘ok’ teachers based on how long they have students. I have clients that I can count back over a decade now. They started with me in 2000, and when I moved in 2010, they were still my clients. Teachers who are “ok” tend to have a run of 1-2 years with a client, before the client needs to move on because they have ‘outgrown” the teacher.

      This is not necessarily a bad thing, btw, to “outgrow” a teacher. But, if you are a teacher who is consistently “out grown” — then you need to check yourself. You need to figure out why. Where are you leading your students? And what is happening such that they want/need to walk away from you?

      Granted, we teach nonattachment, and i’m 2000% behind that idea. I’m not ‘attached’ to my students. I want them to explore and find their own way. But I also need to continually meet their needs in regards to their practice. If i can’t do that, I specifically send them to someone who can. If I can do that, but I need to expand my own understanding and practice, then I need to be willing to do that.

      Geez. I went on a ramble.

      • Vision_Quest2 says:

        And those E-RYTs who blame their turnover in students on the recession. Hah!

        Something does not compute when a yoga teacher migrates to a locality with average per capita income north of $250K a year. And not being able to retain class students and/or drum up enough privates in such a place where they are rolling in dough—though not SO much rolling in dough as to be jet-setting 24/7/365 …

        Rather than take your killer class or pampering private to get enlightened, after the initial fascination wears off, to that set it is less interesting than plotting how to send the kids to college, or how to replace their bombed-out investment portfolio, or how to grow a better lawn or build a better shed out back once spring has sprung.

        Wow! Householders don’t stay their students for long unless they put out a DVD or a streaming …

      • Vision_Quest2 says:

        And, yes, I had been one such student. Geography/proximity being everything when you have a schedule like mine. Had been a bad move for me.

        Nah, since I mostly practice at home, I will go just a little further to a studio that teaches from a place of sincerity …

      • linda says:

        I also have students who have been with me since day 1 of my teaching, 10 years, and I am grateful and blessed to have them. what kills me is that they tell me “every class is different, you always have something new” — I am floored by that! I think “I do?!? I thought I was boring!”

        our students are our teachers!

    • Laura says:

      John – as Jenifer and Yogini have indicated, finding a great teacher often times requires patience and knowing when a teacher is not offering the student opportunities for growth. I guess in your case, it was luck and for that I am grateful to have had you as a student. Unfortunately, many teachers aren’t out there to serve their students and the governing organization doesn’t actually do any governing – sound familiar?

      • Vision_Quest2 says:

        Interesting that you figured out one of my former handles …

        This is proof that my moral suasion campaign by posting comments over a bunch of sites that yoga teachers might read in the past few years, has not been falling on deaf ears … perhaps not the right ears (certain yoga studios in the greater New York City area) but certainly not on deaf ears.

  6. Warriorsaint says:

    Yoga blasphemy! Those letters are the coveted Holy Grail of training :-) Ha ha ha…

    How refreshing to have an insider tell the truth about yoga training. I did 3 weeks of teacher training back in 2004. As a registered nurse I came with good undertstanding of anatomy and physiology. However, after the training I knew squat re: body movement and how to safely lead a class of multiple level students. My later training as a Pilates teacher helped to fill in some of the spaces-but not all. I still teach Pilates and take yoga classes from a wonderful Budokon yoga teacher who is also a fully qualified Pilates teacher.

    • Laura says:

      My jacked up body can attest to how little a training actually teaches people about safely assisting students in a class. Glad that someone in the medical field understands the importance of this even tho you rock at taking care of all of us injured sorry arses!

  7. HipJoint says:

    I never registered for YA. Back when I started teaching yoga, you could still “grandfather” in. That is, prove that you have 200 hours of experience and you can register, I.E.: give them $50.
    When I called them to ask where to put my hours of Sanskrit study, they did not know and said to put it under philosophy. At that moment I realized I knew more about yoga than they did and they were not getting my precious 50 bucks so they could tell me I was a yoga teacher. I already knew that. I have practiced for 20 years and taught for 10. No one has ever asked me if I am RYT certified, my resume speaks for itself. But I know that day is coming…
    I am working towards 10,000 hours, minimum.

  8. Kate says:

    THANK YOU for this. It’s great to hear the same things I’ve been thinking from someone with an E-RYT. I went through a TT after four years with a personal training certification (a slightly more regulated industry with similar problems) and I was the only one in the room who could answer anatomy questions. Knowing how few teachers know the way bodies work makes me fearful. If I go to class and the alignment cues are bad, I don’t come back.

  9. Laura says:

    Yoga Alliance is like the mafia…it offers ‘protection’ to whoever pays. YA never bothers to check standards. To my knowledge YA has accredited crooks who scammed dozens of trainees and even when informed about unethical business practices YA hasn’t done anything to remove such schools from its list of teacher training providers.
    A good teacher doesn’t need numbers and letters after her/his name!

  10. nathan says:

    “This is not necessarily a bad thing, btw, to “outgrow” a teacher. But, if you are a teacher who is consistently “out grown” — then you need to check yourself. You need to figure out why. Where are you leading your students? And what is happening such that they want/need to walk away from you?”

    Jenifer, one thing that might be causing this kind of outgrowing is the ways in which classes are marketed and framed by studios. An excellent teacher may be boxed in to teaching a beginner level class, or a class focused on a particular set of poses or physical/psychological issues – even when they have a group a students wanting more. The influence of consumerism, and the manner in which yoga studio owners play up certain types of classes and approaches needs to be taken into account.

    With that said, I still think that eventually, the best teachers do rise to the top. Current working conditions, though, can make it harder on some teachers, and a lot of us don’t have the financial and other resources needed to run our own studios, or live in areas where there are numerous options of places to teach at.

    Finally, I am in total agreement with the criticisms being made about YA and training standards. This is one of the posts I have written about these issues. http://dangerousharvests.blogspot.com/2011/11/yoga-standards.html

    • Laura says:

      You mean that some studios are more concerned about profit than the welfare and growth of their student base? I am shocked by this news! HA!

      I am also leery of any style of yoga that asks for thousands of dollars to become certified in their methodology and then requires the teacher to shell out annual dues to say they are still allowed to teach it – without any additional training offered for that frivolous investment.

      A little re-tooling needs to be done to get rid of the industry ‘tools’.

  11. San Francisco Yoga News Post_tag says:

    [...] Published on December 7, 2011 by recoveringyogi LINK: http://recoveringyogi.com/ryt-e-ryt-or-rys-bfd/ [...]

  12. J. says:

    Nice to hear others speaking out. Only thing I might add is that becoming a credible and safe yoga teacher doesn’t necessarily mean more anatomy study. I know lots of folks who are quite extensively studied in anatomy, massage therapists and chiropractors included, who still hurt people.

    I think you had it right to suggest that people simply need to “ask questions and pay attention.” At the very least, don’t dole out a big wad of cash on a training unless you have already had practice with the teacher and feel they are the right person to teach you. With all the questionable programs out there these days, you have to be discerning. However, there are many great teachers to be found and, you are right, most of em don’t have a title next to their name.

    If you want to read my take: “Yoga Alliance Approved, My Ass”

    In particular, I encourage everyone to read the comment by Brian Castellani. He has been investigating the YA and has found some insightful information about what they are doing.

    The profession of Yoga can only benefit from more people being honest and taking personal responsibility. Thanks Laura. Occupy Yoga.

    • Laura says:

      Thank YOU J! (and Brian) – for great observations as well. I am glad to see that many of us are starting a conversation about the importance of more training (in anatomy, philosophy, theory, actual life experience, etc.) for teachers. And I am glad to see that there are others who still believe in the idea of questioning the integrity of entities does not mean we are “negative”, it means we do not want to become complacent with the “standard”.

    • Vision_Quest2 says:

      And when I said, above, “certain yoga studios in the greater New York City area”, I certainly didn’t mean you, J …

      And I mean almost no studios that teach a mild, forgiving practice to real people with busy lives.
      (Studios that are not run by teachers who are frustrated they kinda didn’t make the cut at Cirque du Soleil …)

  13. Heather says:

    Thanks so much for this. I’ve been having a hard time lately with people talking about how “beautiful” it is that so many people are going through teacher training and how “wonderful” that so many people are interested in doing it. I actually don’t think it’s beautiful, I think it sucks. So thank you for voicing what deep down I’ve suspected for a while. There are “RYTs” running around everywhere without the first clue about what they are doing, instructing cues they don’t understand with no idea why they are saying them. Teaching a series with no idea why one pose comes after another is NOT teaching. I cringe when I hear them spout off the philosophical sound bytes and link poses in a vinyasa without having any idea why maybe you shouldn’t keep spinning your hips back and forth and back and forth without stabilizing…ahem.

    For the record, I’ve been teaching for more than 10 years. For most of that time, I went to workshops and sought out teachers that interested me to further my practice and teaching and had several life-changing experiences. Not because anyone told me to or I needed CEUs, but because it was important to me and it brought life to my yoga whenever I felt like I needed a boost. I went through a teacher training two years ago so I could check the RYT box and haven’t gotten one dollar of ROI.

  14. RYT, E-RYT, or RYS? BFD! ~ Laura Riggs | elephant journal says:

    [...] E-RYT, or RYS? BFD! ~ Laura Riggs  Originally published by our elephriends over at Recovering Yogi on December 7, 2011.  [...]

  15. cat hopkins says:

    Good article. You make some interesting points. I did my 200 our with two excellent teachers but then on the last day I saw them passing a few students who did NOTHING for 3 1/2 weeks. I saw them giving certificates to students who spent their time smoking, boozing till 4am, sleeping through meditation and studying nothing for the course. Each to their own for sure….but when I spend thousands to get certified to teach I expect standards to be met. In all walks of life some people fail. Yoga is no different. If you won’t study, gain knowledge in all areas and be a lazy ass then you should not be certified…no matter how much money you paid.It was a disgrace…..and sad because these teachers were great teachers but too money oriented or too damn shy to tell someone they failed….perhaps that would be too unyogi and not compassionate.

    • Laura says:

      Cat – so true! I am the a-hole non-compassionate lead that does not believe in the “no yogi left behind” theory. I subscribe to work and dedication and showing up to serve your students. Doesn’t always fly for those who would prefer to be coddled probably why I am not leading anymore. ;)

  16. My body doesn’t bend right for yoga. ~ Nadine Fawell | elephant journal says:

    [...] yoga. ~ Nadine Fawell  Originally published by our elephriends over at Recovering Yogi on December 16, 2011.  [...]

  17. Sherry says:

    I refuse to go through th YA.. It all seemed so arbitrary & silly really. There has been backlash for me however.. I was not allowed to teach in a community yoga space because I don’t have those three little letters after my name & everyone else felt it was so important… Most of those teachers are fine I’m sure but those three little letters do not a good yoga teacher make!

    What I know personally is that I have over 500 hours of training & study with my teacher, I have been practicing for almost 20 years, teaching for 10, & presently teach in a location that provides physical therapy. I work with a PT & an OT to transition folks to yoga after their PT.. They trust me enough with their clients to keep referring them to my classes & my students trust me enough to keep coming to class.. I had a student back in my class after double hip replacement in two weeks & his doctor credits my classes for part of his quick recovery.. I feel I’m doing something right in spite of not having those three little letters after my name.

    I keep seeking & learning more about the body & how we move through life for two reasons, one for myself because after years of sports & ballet I want to keep moving after bashing my body for years and two because I don’t like being bored & there is always something new to learn. I don’t need some random group to approve of my teaching credentials or have those letters after my name to validate myself.. I can & do continue to learn & grow because I owe it to myself & my students.. Though I have hope that everyone else could be grown up & responsible the reality that isn’t the case & so things like YA come to existence.. I am sure they feel they serve some vital need but i feel somehow it got lost in translation…

    Thanks for your post & providing a space for me to vent a bit..

    • Laura says:

      Sherry – I believe that you are teaching from the best place possible – your own experience and with concern for your students well-being. Thank you!

  18. I really don’t care, at all, what you eat. ~ Kimberly Johnson | elephant journal says:

    [...] eat. ~ Kimberly Johnson Originally published by our elephriends over at Recovering Yogi on December 12, 2011.  [...]

  19. Jonathan Evatt says:

    Thanks for your fired up rant Laura. I enjoyed it greatly. Sat naam.

    This whole subject is a great curiosity to me. I’ve been involved in numerous discussions about “American yoga”, as opposed to “traditional yoga”, the value (or not) of RYT, etc. (such as the discussion on LinkedIn to which you posted a link this the above blog entry.

    For the most part I was somewhat ignorant of the American yoga world (or “yoga circus” as a teacher I knows calls it). I am not a reader of mainstream media, so things like Yoga Journal (and other Yoga world magazines) were something I’d only seen in pasting but felt no inclination to read. Thankfully I was fortunate enough to receive my reintroduction into Yoga via Yogis (who most likely don’t even know what an RYT is, or a 200 or 500 hour hour this and that). Actually, before getting into the RYT discussion on LinkedIn I didn’t know what an RYT was either… I had to ask. And yet, ironically, I’ve been exploring Yoga since childhood, and actively practicing Asana, Pranayama, Kriyas, etc., for the past 20+ years.

    All this talk about RYTs, TTs, YAs, and LSDs makes me wonder how I’ve managed to get by with my yoga practice for all these years. Ignorance (or certain insane illusions of commercialism) is bliss, I suppose.

    I’ve been sharing yoga (privately for about 10 years) and publicly, in the context of retreats, for the last 4 years. The first time I taught a public walk-in class was a couple of weeks ago (here in Costa Rica, where I am visiting). A number of friends (trained as yoga teachers) wanted me to sub their classes over the Christmas / New Year period. Always keen to try something new, I went for it. 7 or so classes later, I have to take my hat off to those people teaching short (60 to 120 minute) classes for the general public who come in off the street. My classes were all well received, with numerous people wanting to know what other days I was going to be teaching on, but from my own perspective I felt 90 minutes was a relatively short time to convey the essence and subsequent practice of Yoga, and have htem really feel and get it. What I ended up doing was sharing the key principles of Yoga, yoga practice, breath, and asana, with the intention that the recipients would be able to take this experiential knowledge into all future classes, and into their practice at home (if they have one). Hopefully they got something they’ll take with them.

    Anyway, the gist of this rant of my own is simply this: There is Yoga beyon beyond the RYTs… Yoga exists beyond certifications, trainings, and all that jazz. In fact all of that exists independently of Yoga.

    Keep sharing. Keep shining.
    With heart… Jonathan


    • Laura says:

      Beautifully stated Jonathan. And I love the idea of “sharing Yoga”, it is too big for one man to master, one person to own, etc. and I think sharing experience is the best way you can approach your “teaching”. Thank you.

  20. kort says:

    Hey Laura,

    To be honest I have read many of your blogs in one day (today!) so this will be a scattered stream of consciousness over your many topics. I apologize.

    It’s good to see your new (or at least hidden) stance on this and the previously blogged about Evil Empire. I did two trainings at EE, and quite frankly after my hot yoga training with an absent-minded, mean, ever-aloof and squirly Bikram gal – I nearly never returned. However, I did have teachers I liked and I did have one training down (that two for a discounted price deal got me ;) . So, I taught and slaved for classes that I wasn’t paid for and then finally got paid nothing. But I loved it. I loved my students. I refused to become YA certified for all the reasons you have listed and also because I have taught at quite a few studios and NOT ONE has ever asked nor cared about YA and their affiliates. I continued just as I had before my TT trainings to be a student. This is really the most important part. As I grew in my teachings and as a student, I became deeply interested in Forrest Yoga – and this became my nail in the coffin at said EE. I believe you were assistant managing at the time. I had two lulu clad ladies come into class (one of which being the squirly one I listed above), sit in the back with notepads and stank eyes while I nervously taught a Forrest style class I had been working on. Now I knew I shouldn’t have (straying from the level 2 outline I never received was forbidden!), but I was at the point in my teaching where changing a class last minute, in front of people I knew were judging me, was just not in the cards. And frankly I had been doing this in all my classes and was getting great response – surely I would show them how great I was doing! Nope. They (and you) kept me from teaching at that EE location. For good. No try again. No, hey this is how we would like it. Just nope. Done. I wasn’t staying in the McYoga brand and giving all the students what THEY want. Really? One even stated the lack of creativity in the flow – it’s an ancient fucking practice. All the main poses open you up for all that you need to do. But I digress.

    As you stated above, I don’t believe everyone should graduate from yoga TT. Some of it is about being aware energetically and intuitive and smart – and well, some just aren’t. But once you are on the path to teach, you take more trainings, read more, talk to other teachers (at exhausting length!) about everything. It’s a very rewarding and yes, annoying, “profession.” I currently am a month shy of 29, have taken 2 200 hr trainings and many many module trainings, TT trainings and workshops from Shiva Rae (Rea—who cares) to Ana Forrest and at my current studio am still having to listen to “Senior Teachers” that are 23-26 (and surely YA certified or at least took ONE YA certified training – and drinking the kool aide). It’s exhausting and hilarious at the same time. To be clear, I have little against these guys and gals…. It’s YA, it’s society, it’s allowing the students to rule the class.

    I believe my job as a teacher is a serious thing. In any other profession like ours, in order to keep your certification or license, you would have to do CE credits each year. Why is this not required of yoga teachers? And how the fuck is YA getting away with certifying these programs that are run by children with less experience than most the people they are teaching!!?? And who are THEY and why don’t they care how I teach, what my reputation is, etc? They’ve never taken my class or the people that certified me. Because they only care about making money, just like the studios. And most of the large corporate studios are pumping out teacher after a teacher that love to listen to Michael Franti and come up with exhausting and NEAT flows to the BEST playlist ever. GIVE ME A BREAK. If I based my teaching on what a yoga student of 2-4 wanted – I would be doing a huge disservice. Yoga is about getting into the places you don’t want to go. Not doing a hundred poses in one hour while singing to citizen cope.

    End rant.

    Love to you, Laura. Great blogs and FB site. I’ll be checking back regularly.

    • Laura says:

      Lady – I am sorry to have been such an a-hole while working there. I am not sorry to have pushed you out of the EE so that you could serve students in a meaningful way as a teacher. I am glad that you enjoy reading the views that were “hidden” from the general public, but were not so hidden to upper management, and became my ultimate demise – thank GAWD. xol

      • kort says:

        I don’t blame you honey. We all been-there-done-that. We come back to earth. Remind ourselves that our shit DOES stink and that we all have so much to learn. In love, K

  21. What does it really take to be a great yoga teacher? | RecoveringYogi says:

    [...] for verse. And get this . . . you do not need to be an RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) through the Yoga Alliance or be “certified” by [...]

  22. Repost: RYT, E-RYT, or RYS? BFD! says:

    [...] LINK: http://recoveringyogi.com/ryt-e-ryt-or-rys-bfd/ [...]

  23. Neferititi Phillips says:

    I LOVE this article….it confirms what I have thought all along. I have been teaching Yoga for 10+ years have I have documented more than 10,000 of teaching time…which technically would qualify me as a Yoga Master, as mastery goes. I did it without going to a Yoga school. I started doing Yoga as a way to deal with some life issues that were becoming overwhelming so I will always have a deep connection to yoga..that kind of energy can’t be bought. I have read the sacred texts several times and memorized lots of poses in English and Sanskrit over the years…. I would probably be bored it I went to one of those schools because it would be a $3000 review for me! lol

  24. Yogaworks | Namaskar Creations says:

    [...] of the things that I’m personally contemplating on. I don’t even want to dive into the heated discussions of yogis about the shady politics and accreditations of teacher trainings….. Another year or [...]

  25. Shannon Lewis says:

    Thanks for the info! I stumbled upon this while trying to find an RYT that could train me. I want to get certified but do not have a good yoga studio around here on the jersey cape. There are RYT’s and RYS’s in this area, but only a handful. The only certification programs they offer are weekend classes. Until I get certified and get steady income from teaching, I have to work another job and you guessed it, I work weekends. It is not a simple as finding another job during the week. The area where I live is a tourist area, weekends are a must in almost any job in this area. I thought about online certification but do not have the $4000 to shell out. Where should I start? I have a background in weight loss and nutrition, I used to work for weight watchers. I have followers who keep asking when and where I will be teaching yoga. Any help you could provide would be much appreciated.

    • Laura says:

      Hi Shannon –

      There are lots of teacher trainings out there. You will want to find one that trains you in the style of yoga you would like to teach most importantly. Research how much experience the leaders of the training have and if it is local, ask if you can sit in on a couple of sessions of the current training to see if they teach in a way that you can receive the information.

      If there aren’t any trainings in your area that will work in your schedule, check for the ones that are available online – then you can fit in the sessions and homework on your schedule. The key thing is that there are TONS of great trainings that aren’t YA certified and they don’t have to be in order to get a job teaching. If you know where you want to teach, do go and find out what requirements they have for education so that you make sure you fulfill those with whatever training you choose.

      Hope that was helpful – best of luck to you!


  26. Hema says:

    Laura.. A great article,,, you have voiced how I felt ( but never bothered to explain ) for a long long time. We have been teaching yoga for over twenty five years …a time when none had heard of yoga alliance. We are based in Mysore – which has now become a teachers training factory full of yoga alliance registered teachers !!! How the alliance can judge the standards of people who are so far away from them or why these teachers are so enthusiastic to be accredited by them is beyond any sane mind’s comprehension. It is a brain- numbing business strategy and a mass hysteria ..sigh.
    We are proudly non registered with all alliances of this world :)

  27. RYT, E-RYT, OR RYS? BFD! | Become OM Blog says:

    [...] As published on RecoveringYogi today: [...]

  28. Trisha Lotzer, JD says:

    Great article! I agree. As a yoga instructor I opted to not register with YA for these reasons. And, as an attorney with a fair amount of yoga clients, unfortunately I have seen many RYT instructors and even an entire teacher training programs that were so far below par as to cause students to become injured and end up in my office seeking legal assistance. But YA refusesd to become involved in those cases. So, from my perspective, what you say about YA guidelines and the RYT lable not being adequate to protect students is accurate.

    Improvements could be to have YA add a legitimate board to handle complaints, a disciplinary policy that is enforced and other related measures, perhaps including continuing education, to actually hold RYTs to a higher standard–not unlike the State Bar memberships that I have to apply for and maintain as an attorney. But without those things it just feels like a $$ scheme to me.

  29. P.L. Chimera says:

    Oh, glad I found this.
    I’ve been meaning to write this exact article for the last 4 years.
    (now I don’t have to).

    Though, my article would have included juicy recorded transcriptions of YA threatening to “call the authorities” on me if I ever got a phone call from them again…

  30. Raechelle Carino says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for writing this article! I’ll admit that I never went through a certification program nor am an RYT. But I’ve been teaching for 13 years, and have over 12,000 hours of teaching under my belt. Not to toot my own horn, I’m a great Yoga Teacher. It’s upsetting to me that where I live, (Southern California, where there’s practically a studio on every corner) I get passed over for jobs in favor of someone who has far less experience than me, simply because I don’t have RYT attached to my name. I’ve joked before with a colleague that RYT stands for Rookie Yoga Teacher.

  31. Yoga is the Ultimate 2015 Entrepreneurial Venture? Think Again HuffPost | All Things Yoga says:

    [...] because of lack of funds/employees to actually regulate those registered. There is widespread controversy on whether their accreditation system is valid, or if it’s simply accreditation for a fee (in [...]

  32. minus83kg.bloggagratis.se says:

    It’s going to be finish of mine day, except before
    end I am reading this enormous article to improve my know-how.

  33. Catherine Fiss says:

    Hello, perhaps what I’ve read above should be enough to answer my question, but I could use some advice. I recently became an RYT 200. There is an opportunity for me to take an additional 300 hours to be an RYT 500. It would cost me nearly 5K. All the classes look very interesting and I would love to learn the material. things like meditation, Sanskrit, mindfulness, etc. Would the 500 rather than 200 credential increase my pay as a teacher? Also, do I REALLY need to pay 5K to learn these topics if the YA is sort of a joke anyway? What do you suggest I do?! Thanks, Catherine

  34. Samsara says:

    This is wonderful! When I first began my foray into teaching I did all the research but thought that the Yoga Alliance was *the* only accepted standard, despite the gym who hired me not needing that registration. I opted a different route.

    I love yoga. I love it so much and believe it is for everyone. I am constantly learning and re-learning about different body types, ‘new’ science, ‘better’ modifiers, and even the different veins within Hatha. I am doing it on my own seeking without having to pay $5K but I guess if I were financially and temporally wealthy (free money and free time), I would experience the RYT route JUST to experience it.

    Yeah. Kinda like how the chose my college major; not for the money or career potential, but for the its own sake. Thank you for the insightful article.

  35. KIMAK KAU says:

    Hi, I think your website might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer,
    it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!
    Other then that, superb blog!

  36. honest yogi not pompoos says:

    your website has more than compatibility problems. your bairn does. you all highbrow better than thou yoga teachers. the YA set some standards to show a minimum level of teaching standard has been attained. get over it. if you really are so wonderful and teach so many classes, why not try contributing to the alliance to help them grow stronger rather than in your so-called non-conformist way be a cheapskate and not support. of course you are so much better than them. get over yourself you pompous people!

  37. Bikram Hot Yoga Weight Watchers Points – Health Care says:

    [...] RYT, E-RYT, or RYS? BFD ! | RecoveringYogi – by By Laura Riggs Many students used to ask me, “What does it mean to be an RYT or E-RYT?” The PC answer: “According to Yoga Alliance, the reported … [...]

  38. RYT, E-RYT, OR RYS? BFD! – A day in the life… says:

    [...] As published on RecoveringYogi today: [...]

    Response posted on May 5th, 2017 , 4:39 am Reply
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