We’re changing the paradigm of yoga education, and we are rolling out Qualification for our Founding Circle Members now! If you are a Founding Circle Member, you’ll hear from us soon about how to begin the process of Qualification. We’ll be opening up Qualification for everyone in September. Want to know more? Read on. You can learn even more about our Educational Structure here.
By Lisette Cheresson
The practice of acupuncture and moxibustion dates back roughly 3,000 years to China and Japan. Though the efficacy of these ancient practices was “proven” by the U.S. medical community during the 1980s, it wasn’t until manuals were published between 2007–2009, according to Oxford University Press, that the practice was standardized in the United States. On January 21, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that they would cover acupuncture services to help treat chronic lower back pain as an alternative for opioid therapies. This ancient healing modality has finally been integrated into the mainstream.
What does any of this have to do with yoga? Like acupuncture, the yoga community has, until now, lacked any qualitative assessment of instructors, leaving yoga as a kind of Wild West. Certification implies that individual instructors are ready to teach after completion of a training, regardless of whether they’d been studying and practicing yoga for 20 years or 20 days. Instead of standardizing yoga, however, Yoga Unify Qualification will provide a way to showcase the efficacy of individual teachers. Any practitioner—or fellow instructor—can trust the Yoga Unify Seal of Qualification to lead you to ethical and skilled yoga professionals and courses.
But Certification is fine! Why is this important?
Traditionally, the teachings of yoga were passed down from teacher to student by direct transmission, or one-on-one learning. In a Yoga Unify-hosted conversation for Yoga Journal, Acharya Shunya said that she didn’t believe it was necessary for students to have this kind of discipleship, but asserted that:
“We need to bring back the context in which a teacher can continue to teach and the student can be safe. We have to carefully discern what is worthy of being kept, what is worthy of a red flag, and what is worthy of walking away from without turning back. For example, all certification courses should include teachings on dharma. Yoga begins with yamas and niyamas. A teacher should be able to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk. Yoga Unify provides a space for the yoga community to come together and make these discernments.”
In a different Yoga Unify-hosted conversation for Yoga Journal, Greg Nardi acknowledged the proliferation of teacher trainings—ones that may not necessarily individually vet teachers; but instead met the bare minimum of certification—as perhaps a necessary symptom of the overcommercialization of yoga. “It’s been interesting to watch so many more people get certified,” he said. “In the West, teacher training has basically gotten to the point where everyone runs a yoga teacher training as part of their business model.”
Not only can this prolific certification lead to safety concerns for students in the care of inexperienced teachers, it dilutes professionalism and professional opportunities for experienced teachers. To boot, there has not been, (until now!) another readily-available pathway for students to self-direct their yoga education outside of teacher trainings.
Why would I get Qualified if I’m already Certified?
Getting Qualified with Yoga Unify is a whole new paradigm of educational assessment and mentorship. Qualification with Yoga Unify isn’t simply a piece of paper to frame and hang on the wall. It’s a lifetime relationship that nurtures and supports your personal yoga journey. Keeping a RYT-certification current costs hundreds of dollars annually, and provides few perks beyond corporate discounts. We are choosing to call the community in and create mutual accountability through peer review and assessment. Our governing body is made up of the community, and intending to govern the profession for those who choose to hold themselves accountable to ethics and competency.
Yoga Unify Qualification helps you pinpoint pathways to self-directed yoga education. We believe that a teacher can gain experience in myriad ways, not limited to X-number of certification hours. Yoga Unify Qualification comes with the ability to connect with a professional advisor or, for an additional fee, mentor, to help you identify your personalized yoga goals and how to best achieve them.
Qualification honors transmission of yoga’s teachings, rather than transaction. All Yoga Unify Qualified Professionals have the opportunity to create a publicly-accessible Professional Directory listing, which helps students around the world find a safe and qualified teacher to work with. This in turn allows teachers to focus on their specific areas of expertise, rather than catering to a “one-size-fits-all” studio model. Qualified Professionals also may list their courses, workshops, and trainings in our first-of-its-kind Yoga Course Catalog, accessible to all folks in the Yoga Unify community. The Catalog serves the growth of both student and teacher, as everyone in the YU community may browse, save favorites, and be connected with advisors and mentors to support the journey they curate for themselves.
We’ll soon be launching monthly virtual information sessions about Qualification if you have more questions. Stay tuned. Not on our email list? Sign up here.