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.
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 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 any particualr certificate, government sanctioned or not, 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 CIMSPA 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 CIMSPA is most likely if the employer is a member of UKactive [formerly The Fitness Industry Association].
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 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.
REPs – The Register for Exercise Professionals originally set up by SkillsActive. This organisation, once the registering wing of the fitness industry, no longer registers ‘exercise professionals.’ The register has been moved over to CIMSPA who now have a register which accomodates yoga teachers as well as exercise professionals. If you are asked by an employer for CIMSPA registration and need help, contact the IYN Secretary.
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 received £20,000 from BWY to institute a NOS for Yoga Teachers in 2016. 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. [Over 4000 signatures were added to a petition opposing this initiative and which prompted the relevant governmetn minister to comment that yoga teachers are not complelled by it.] This body has little re,levance to yoga in 2020.
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. These bodies are recognised by CIMSPA. [This section is being researched for updates.]
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 widely disliked institution of NOS Yoga Teacher. [This section being researched for update.]
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, Macdonalds, 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 granted 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  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’.