The Yoga Alliance recently announced the launch of a companion organization: YA+. The benefits of the new program were touted in an email announcement sent out to current Yoga Alliance members. The intention of the program appears to be a response to community feedback and as an effort to make the Yoga Alliance more relevant in the ongoing debate about regulating yoga teacher training.
The Yoga Alliance was set up in 1999 as an education and support organization. A main goal of the organization is to set minimum education standards for yoga teachers and studios offering teacher training programs. Many other professions have a professional organization that sets and enforces standards that are intended to ensure quality and professionalism and to enhance peer communication and learning. Yet, many in the yoga community have expressed frustration with the YA’s lack of ability to achieve these goals. Some even think that the Yoga Alliance has hurt the development of the profession as lack of enforcement has enabled low standards to be perpetuated.
Could this new program help raise the bar for the Yoga Alliance? A few of the YA+ benefits listed in the email were: increased lobbying power, more community building capabilities, and additional opportunities for leadership by members. Future, benefits may include discounts on products and insurance as well as “voluntary yoga teacher certifications and a recognition program for yoga studios that meet certain professional standards”.
Aside from the last two proposed future benefits sounding alarmingly similar to promoted current benefits, these do sound like hallmarks of a stronger, more organized, professional organization. Browsing through the YA+ Community website, there are features such as forums, member blog pages, and the ability to set up personal profiles or groups. They have also begun to organize members into state caucuses and are asking members interested in becoming leaders to step forward.
The proposed direction of this organization, if realized, could become a beneficial resource; yet, the proposed ideals of the Yoga Alliance could be a beneficial resource for the community as well if diligently and professionally executed. Only time will tell if this is the spark the Yoga Alliance needs to ignite a more functional organization, or if this is the last flare before the fire goes out.