Regulation - the facts | Keep Yoga Free

Yoga regulation - what you need to know

Courtesy of the Independent Yoga Network

Currently there are no laws governing the teaching of Yoga in the UK, other than the
general laws that apply to all citizens. This allows for freedom and diversity in teaching and training and gives the jobbing yoga teacher a reasonably level playing field in terms of teaching jobs. Furthermore, peoples` personal spiritual practice and the right to share it gets little interference under the current conditions, as one would expect in a country with a Human Rights Act.

We should insist on the liberty to practice and share our practice.

There is much confusion in the British Yoga world about regulation and the certificates required for working teachers.
Below are the facts about regulation and a “Who’s who” of the main players.

The Facts:

There is no legislation specifically governing the teaching of Yoga in the UK.

Governing Body Status – A title ‘awarded’ to a Yoga Teacher training school /organisation, i.e. The British Wheel of Yoga, by the then Sports Council in 1995. This recognition was carried over to Sport England when the Sports Council was dissolved as a part of devolution. There is no consensus amongst the general Yoga community of England that this title is meaningful and many experienced Yoga Teachers view it with scorn. The term ‘Governing Body’ is a non-protected one and as such carries no legal authority whatsoever.

REPs and Skillsactive admit they have no expertise in Yoga. None of the National Occupational Standards [NOS] associated with the fitness industry currently makes any reference to Yoga or Yoga Teachers. In August 2016, 12 years after the first unsuccessful attempt was made to institute a NOS for Yoga Teacher, it was announced by BWY in conjunction with SkillsActive that a NOS would be instituted by July 2017. At the time of writing, this project is facing very strong opposition from a large fraction of the Yoga Community, including the IYN and the National Council of Hindu Temples. A petition againstthe institution of a NOS quickly raised 2000+ signatures. There is a NOS for Yoga Therapy, despite considerable controversy within the Yoga Community as to what Yoga Therapy is supposed to be.

Teachers do NOT require a REPs certificate in order to teach in public places such as gyms, schools or fitness centres or to hire rooms for your own self-organised classes or to teach in a self-employed capacity.

An employer may request that you hold a REPs certificate or any other qualification or registration it sees fit, and may refuse to employ you if you do not have what they require. The insistence on REPS is most likely if the employer is a member of Ukactive [formerly The Fitness Industry Association].

There are three certain ways currently to get REPs registration should you feel you really need it as follows:

As a trained teacher you can register with The Independent Yoga Network the members of which are guaranteed REPs registration. The same applies to teachers qualified by an IYN registered Teacher Training School irrespective of personal IYN membership. You have training ratified by one of the Awarding Organisations or BWY. This will also be recognised by REPS. You can apply directly to REPS through a process specific to Yoga Teachers. These applications are assessed by an independent panel of experienced Yoga Teachers and not by REPS personnel.

If a NOS for Yoga teachers is instituted as SkillsActive and BWY hope, this situation will change in that NOS will in some way form the basis for criteria to register with REPS. Insurance – Contrary to a common rumour, liability insurance is easily available from a number of providers. You don’t have to be associated with BWY or REP’s to get insurance.

Who’s who:

REPs – The Register for Exercise Professionals originally set up by SkillsActive. This is precisely what its name implies: a voluntary register of exercise professionals that employers and the public can refer to. For most exercise disciplines, there are criteria of training and competence for registration that the register requires of an exercise professional. REPS has recently undergone a complete change of its personnel and offices, we believe due to bankruptcy. It now describes itself as “an independent, public register which recognises the qualifications and expertise of health-enhancing exercise instructors in the UK. REPs provides a system of regulation for instructors and trainers to ensure that they meet the health and fitness industry’s agreed National Occupational Standards.”

Skillsactive – A government licensed ‘Sector Skills Council’ set up to ensure the Sport, Fitness and Leisure Industries have professionally trained and qualified staff based on industry requirements and standards.

The licensing body, UKCES, was recently wound up by the government.

The Independent Yoga Network (IYN)– an organisation of independent Yoga teacher trainers, teachers and practitioners set up in 2004 to counter the attempt to regulate and control Yoga in the UK by the fitness industry in conjunction with a large, but single Yoga organisation. The IYN operates a voluntary register of Yoga Teachers and Teacher Training Schools using criteria based on Yoga rather than on fitness,
main-stream education or therapy.

Yoga Alliance - A huge US-based organisation offering registration of Teacher Training Programmes and Teachers. It offers its registration internationally but does not actively support members outside of the US. This registration has no legal force in the UK.

Yoga Alliance Professionals, formerly Yoga Alliance UK - A UK based organisation offering registration of Teacher Training Programmes and teachers and using a registration schema originally similar to that used by Yoga Alliance and now ostensibly more nuanced. This registration has no legal force in the UK and Yoga Alliance UK has no aspirations to make it so.

The Awarding Organisations – Currently includes, BWYQ, CYQ [YMCA] and ITEC. These bodies train teachers or ‘accredit’ third party teacher trainers within the National Qualifications Framework, (though there is currently no National Occupational Standard for Yoga Teachers). The awarding bodies are ‘authorised’ by SkillsActive and Ofqual. It was announced in 2013 that BWYQ would be closing in November 2017 and would no longer take on new students. In 2016, BWYQ was resurrected.

UKactive [formerly The Fitness Industry Association ] – The employers’ association for the fitness industry, closely related to SkillsActive via a “Memorandum of Understanding”.

Sport England - A body which awards ‘Governing Body’ titles to various sports organisation and disburses
public money.

BWY and Skills Active have both received monies from Sport England. Sport England has a “Memorandum of Understanding” relationship with UKActive and operates under a Royal Charter.

Ofqual - The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation. Ofqual is the government body (coming under the Department for Education) that regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland.