Against Government Regulation of Yoga – 100%!

News out of Colorado that a State executive who oversees the licensing of yoga studios is cracking down on competing yoga studios.  Read more here:  ARTICLE.  Yes, I predicted this *years* ago when I first learned about the Yoga Alliance and what their mission was.

I used to prosecute licensed professionals for violating their licensing laws.  Doctors, dentists, psychiatrists, architects and engineers.  The State agency I worked for licensed over 100 professions, including funeral homes, barber shops and security guards.

Based on my experience doing this kind of work, here’s my opinion on why no government should regulate yoga teachers or studios:  First, state approval to operate a business or profession is inherently anti-competition.  If you don’t get the license, you can’t do it.  Yup, just like the article says is happening in Colorado. Second, the boards that oversee each profession (such as the State Medical Board) are comprised of members of the profession being licensed – they are competitors of the people/business seeking a license.  There’s a conflict of interest right there, if one person has the power to keep a competitor out of business.  And yes, I did see this in operation (security firms are notorious).

Third, once there is some regulation, there will soon be *lots* of regulation.  It’s just inherent in the beast.  Most licensing laws start as “certifications”, that is, you just need to apply, pay the fee, provide some minimum qualification, and the certificate is issued.  Over time, through legislation or regulation, the laws get more detail, more requirements and qualifications are added (due to lobbying from the competition, as noted).  Often a major player will actually *draft* the regulations (I saw this in the regulations regarding guard dog training).  No surprise, they get drafted to favor that player, and squeeze out the others.

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And more regulation means more money and time spent on compliance.  Let’s use wet mopping the floor as an example.  Do you want a regulator telling you how frequently you should mop the floor in your studio? Once a day? after every class? What is appropriate?  Can we all even agree on what an appropriate frequency is? Or why it has to be done with “x” frequency?  Let the State in, and you will be told, and you will have to comply or face fines.

Which gets us to point four:  Money.  Licensing costs money, in compliance costs and training for the studio and teachers (such as installing a required bathroom, or mopping with the required frequency, for example); and in costs for hiring licensing and enforcement people.  The studio’s compliance money is paid from revenue, not the most lush source of money.  The State’s money comes from licensing fees, paid, again, by the studio or teacher – and also from fines for non-compliance. Yup, fines.  So if the studio doesn’t comply with the “mopping frequency” requirement, there will be a fine.  $100?  $500?  $1,000?  Got your attention now?

Point five:  Training.  Who’s to say my TT program was “good enough” for me to be licensed?  You got it – the accrediting Board, which we’ve already shown is comprised of potential competitors to the studio I went to.  Which, if they don’t approve my chosen studio’s program, guess where I have to do my TT?  Yup, at *their* studio.  What if I trained in Chicago, but want to teach in Alabama?  Will Alabama accept my training from a non-Alabama accredited school?  Furthermore, almost every licensed profession you can name has required “continuing education”, at least in Illinois where I worked.  15, 20, 30 hours a year, to *keep* the license.  Do you think this is necessary for every teacher?  Think of your favorite yoga teacher, does s/he need more training?  Or do you look upon him/her as the expert? And who approves the CE provider?  If you take a 500 hour course in Costa Rica, will that be approved?  What if your training was in India, the home of yoga, which State regulator is going to travel to India to review the course and teachers you had?  And do you know who runs the CE?  Yep, the big players and competitors.  Most CE, in my opinion, is just another way for the big players to make money.

Last, the facility will be licensed (as it seems Colorado is doing).  Who’s to say what a “qualifying” yoga studio looks like?  Will it need an HVAC system, his/her bathrooms and showers, a sound system?  We all know that every single studio is the unique expression of the owners, and that’s partly what makes going to a new studio fun.  Let the State in, and studios will all start looking the same.  While that may be great for a dentist office, do you want that for a yoga studio?

Yoga and how to run a yoga studio is inherently *not* amenable to set standards.  For every yoga teacher, there is a different style of yoga.  Who’s to say that I’m qualified to teach, when the person who sat next to me in TT, who had the *exact* training as me, is not qualified to teach?  Who’s to say a Tree pose can’t be followed by a forward fold?  Because yes, telling you how to sequence, what to say, how to adjust, will be on the agenda.

My opinion, keep the MAN out of yoga.


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