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YOGA REGULATION: THE FACTS & THE PLAYERS

There is much confusion in the British Yoga world about regulation and the qualifications and
credentials required for working teachers. Here are the facts and a “WHO’S WHO” of the main players.

 

THE FACTS
There are no legal requirements for Yoga teachers and there is no statutory 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. The term ‘Governing Body’ is a
‘non-protected’ one and as such carries no legal authority whatsoever. Yoga Scotland has GB status in
Scotland and this status is similarly devoid of legal force.
The recently concocted National Occupational Standard for Yoga Teachers is not mandatory, has no
legal force and is widely rejected by the Yoga Community. There is also a NOS for Yoga Therapy,
despite considerable controversy within the Yoga Community as to what Yoga Therapy is supposed to
be. It has no legal force.
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. This is often
negotiable between the teacher and employer.
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. Members of Yoga Alliance Professionals can also get easy access to REPS.
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.
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 or indeed have any organisational affiliation whatsoever
to get insurance. Selling a teacher insurance cover is a commercial decision made by the providers. Bgi,
Balens and DSC are popular insurance providers.
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 been through various ownerships and is no longer owned by SkillsActive. It is now owned by UK Coaching, a large UK Charity concerned with
sports coaching.
Skillsactive – A government authorised ‘Sector Skills Council’ set up to ensure the Sport, Fitness, Wellbeing
and Leisure Industries have professionally trained and qualified staff based on industry
requirements and standards. The Government no longer finances Sector Skills Councils and does not
appear to be committed to their continued existence. The body which originally licensed them [UKCES] is now defunct. The area of skills has largely been devolved to the UK nations. Skillsactive recently
received £20,000 from BWY to institute a NOS for Yoga Teachers. This was initiated without prior
consultation of the other Yoga organisations and stakeholders and pushed through in the face of widespread
opposition by an ‘expert group’ compose almost entirely of BWY associates. [Almost 4000
signatures were added to a petition opposing this initiative.]

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 [and international] register of Yoga Teachers and Teacher Training Schools using criteria
based on Yoga rather than on fitness, main-stream education or therapy and remains committed to
keeping Yoga free of corporate and governmental dominance. This registration has no legal force in the
UK.
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. This registration has no legal force in the UK.
The Awarding Organisations – Currently, BWYQ, YMCA, Active IQ, VTCT and ITEC. [This list may not be
exhaustive.] These bodies train teachers or ‘accredit’ third party teacher trainers within the QCF
[Qualifications and Credit Framework, applicable in England, Wales and Northern Ireland]. ‘The QCF is
jointly regulated by the England’s regulator Ofqual, Wales’ DCELLS and Northern Ireland’s CCEA’ which
are government bodies.
The British Wheel of Yoga [BWY] a large, old [founded 1965] UK organisation which trains teachers and
accredits other teacher training programmes. It has a complex organisational structure with an
awarding body wing, BWYQ, which is ‘regulated’ by Ofqual . There is also BWYT which ‘licenses Diploma
Course Tutors’. This organisation seems to be enamoured of government legitimation and was behind
the recent widely disliked institution of NOS Yoga Teacher.
Ofqual - The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) regulates qualifications,
examinations and assessments in England. Ofqual is a non-ministerial department of the government.
UKactive [formerly The Fitness Industry Association ] – The employers’ association for the fitness
industry, closely related to SkillsActive, UK Coaching, CIMSPA, and Sport England. Largely corporate in
character with deep links with various Government Ministries. Asda, Coca Cola, Sainsburys’ and Argos
are amongst the Partners and Strategic Partners of Ukactive.
Sport England is the major player in the UK fitness industry, having a Royal Charter and disbursing of a considerable amount of public money. (£308.4 million was garnted for 2017). It’s role and brief has recently been widened under a government
policy designed to get the ageing UK population fit, and therefore less of a burden to the NHS and tax
payers. This is delineated in Government Policy document Sporting Future [2015] which also identifies
CIMSPA [which also has a Royal Charter] as a key player. Sport England includes Yoga in its brief
because of a particular, and arguably erroneous, interpretation of the European Sports Charter and this
emboldens the industry at large to consider Yoga ‘fair game’.