Over the last year, the Yoga Alliance (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization) has become concerned about the growing use of the words “yoga therapy” and “yoga therapist” in the market. Based on in-depth research and the mission of the organization, the Yoga Alliance has adopted a new policy.

Brandon Hartsell, Chair of the Yoga Alliance Registry Board commented, “I think we all agree that yoga has significant therapeutic benefits for general health and well-being. The issue is that the Registry’s mission is to protect and inform the public; we made the decision in keeping with that mission. Teachers and schools using the terms “therapy” and “therapist” may be unintentionally misleading the public about their qualifications and expertise. The term “therapy” implies the treatment or diagnosis of mental or physical health conditions, and this type of training is not part of our RYT or RYS Standards.”

Yoga Alliance Registry’s Code of Conduct includes the following commitment, binding on all registrants: each registrant agrees to “acknowledge the limitations of my skills and scope of practice and where appropriate, refer students to seek alternative instruction, advice, treatment or direction.”

Andrew Tanner, a spokesperson for Yoga Alliance who is himself a Registered Yoga Teacher added, “The Registry was established to serve the public interest. By providing greater clarity and information, the Registry’s decision is in the best interests of everyone: students, practitioners and teachers alike. Confusion about the meaning of the terms ‘yoga therapy’ and ‘yoga therapist’ creates risk for Yoga Alliance members and the yoga community as a whole, with the potential for lawsuits or state charges against individual yoga teachers or schools using these terms.”

Going forward, any teacher or school registered with Yoga Alliance Registry must remove the terms “yoga therapy,” “yoga therapist” and related words from their profile on the Yoga Alliance Registry Directory. Registrants using these words on their own website or in marketing materials must add a disclaimer explaining the source of their “therapy” training. If there is no disclaimer, they need to remove this language entirely.

Seattle Yoga News interviewed Andrew Tanner to gain more in depth information regarding the policy changes.

For more information regarding Yoga Alliance’s terms of use for non-restricted “yoga therapy” terms, please visit the Yoga Alliance website.

[photo by: Tempo de Florescer – CC BY]

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