Colorado Yoga Teacher Trainers Up in Arms Over Regulations, Freezes on Teacher Certification

Lawmakers in Colorado wants to regulate yoga teacher training — and tempers have flared for normally calm yogis and studio owners alike.

In December, a state agency that oversees private occupational schools sent letters to 82 yoga teacher training programs, saying that they needed to comply with a 2002 law that demands registration with the state.

But many of those studio owners who received letters pointed out that just six teacher training programs have actually registered with the state Division of Private Occupational Schools.

Yoga teachers met with state lawmakers on Tuesday, Jan. 27, to debate the issue, and what was supposed to be just half an hour for public comments turned into over an hour of debate and discussion.

Most of the teachers who attended the meeting said that yoga teacher training isn’t about gainful employment — the standard that most private occupational schools have to meet. Instead, yoga is about self-fulfillment, and most who are registered yoga teachers don’t work in the industry full time unless they run their own studios, which are set everywhere from busy downtown areas to quiet master planned communities.

Further, they argued, yoga teacher training programs are already overseen — not by a government agency but by a private regulatory body that specializes in setting standards for yoga teachers and studios.

The Yoga Alliance establishes guidelines for teacher training classes, from the most basic requirements for 200 hour training to specialized training to teach children’s or prenatal yoga.

A basic 200-hour teacher training includes areas of study such as yoga techniques and practice; teaching methodology and practicum; yoga philosophy and ethics; and anatomy and physiology related to yoga poses.

Training regarding anatomy and physiology in yoga helps prospective teachers understand the health benefits and risks for their students. For example, a yoga practice of three months or more can significantly improve lung function in patients with chronic conditions like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) or other breathing issues. However, teachers also have to know when their students may be at risk for injury, especially when attempting trickier poses in class.

Yoga teacher training schools registered with Yoga Alliance typically charge $3,000 or more for their services. With the crackdown on Colorado’s yoga teacher training school regulations, however, those fees could go up.

But occupational training schools in Colorado, which can cover any topic from dog grooming to truck driving, are charged $1,750 for initial provisional certification for two years and $1,500 for a renewable certificate every three years.

Any “agent” authorized to enter into a contract with a student is charged $175 plus $3.75 per student per quarter. The schools must secure a bond of at least $5,000 once they’ve been certified.

As of now, the state has put a halt to yoga teacher certifications. The board will meet again in March to discuss the topic.

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