Picture yourself on a warm beach with the sun beginning to rise. You look out upon the vast ocean and greet the new day with a sun salutation, giving thanks for this amazing gift of life. Such is the experience and bliss associated with practicing yoga. Many of those who have experienced the true healing power of yoga go on to become teachers in order to spread that essence to others. And this is where an understanding of the yoga business can help.
One organization devoted to the sustained growth of the yoga business is Yoga Alliance, the largest non-profit association representing yoga teachers, schools and studios across the U.S. Their mission is to sustain and support the field of yoga to bring widespread benefit to as many people as possible.
Conscious Connection caught up with a few of the senior members at Yoga Alliance to pick their brains on how it all got started and what you can do to be a part of the growth and evolution of this 5,000 year old practice.
Conscious Connection: What inspired the forming of the Yoga Alliance?
Yoga Alliance: Our organization was actually a merger of two organizations: Unity in Yoga and Ad Hoc Yoga Alliance. Unity in Yoga was founded with the intention of fostering a spirit of unity amongst the different traditions and styles, and hosted inclusive national and international yoga conferences from 1982 until 1995. Ad Hoc Yoga Alliance was formed in 1997 to create minimum standards for yoga teachers. Since our formation, we have emphasized mutual respect, sensitivity and support of different yoga styles and traditions.
Conscious Connection: What is the mission of your organization?
Yoga Alliance: We exist to uphold teaching standards and support the business and practice of yoga. We do so by providing community, education, credentials, and professional services for yoga teachers, schools and studios. Our intention is to sustain and support the field of yoga.
Conscious Connection: How has yoga gained more widespread adoption since the founding of Yoga Alliance?
Yoga Alliance: There’s no doubt that the number of people practicing yoga in the U.S. has grown significantly since the year we were founded; more and more people are connecting with the transformative practice of yoga, and we couldn’t be happier about that. The latest statistics from the 2012 Yoga in America Study show a 29 percent increase in the number of yoga practitioners in the U.S. from 2008 to 2012. This growth is wonderful; it not only means more people are practicing yoga, but it means more opportunities for our Registered Yoga Teachers and Registered Yoga Schools.
Conscious Connection: What are the benefits of membership in Yoga Alliance?
Yoga Alliance: First and foremost, we offer credibility. The Yoga Alliance designations of Registered Yoga Teacher and Registered Yoga School are the premier form of recognition in the field of yoga. We offer education via our online workshops; we plan to host 8-10 this year and eventually one per month. We offer education and networking opportunities via our annual conference, which will focus on The Business of Yoga.
We offer benefits and services like discounts on non-yoga and yoga-specific products and services. We offer a liability insurance program and, before the end of the year, health insurance and 401k programs for yoga teachers. We also offer a private social network for Registered Yoga Teachers, which will be vastly improved when our new website debuts in Q4 of 2013. With the new website, we will also provide Registered Yoga Teachers and Registered Yoga Schools with powerful marketing services.
Conscious Connection: Where do you see the future of the organization heading?
Yoga Alliance: In the future, we’ll continue to raise the bar on Yoga Alliance’s performance. We are working on strengthening our credentialing system that recognizes qualified teachers and schools. At present, this is a huge focus of the organization. We also think it’s critical that we help sustain the yoga business so the practice of yoga can continue to grow and transform people’s lives.
While there are many resources available about the practice and teaching of yoga, there are not many resources to support the business aspects of being a yoga teacher, school or studio. Our members need more help here, and we’ve shifted the focus of our annual conference to meet that need. Our first Business of Yoga conference, which will feature separate programs for teachers and studio owners, is scheduled August 8-10 in Washington, DC.
In general, we are growing, strengthening our credentialing system, developing new benefits for our members, and seeking new ways to support business and practice of yoga.