hugh_order_chaos-thumbnailThere is much confusion in the British Yoga world about regulation and the certificates 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 governing the teaching of Yoga in the UK other than common law.

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.

REPs and Skillsactive admit they have no expertise in Yoga. Neither the NOS (National Occupational Standard) nor the NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) associated with the fitness industry makes any reference to Yoga or Yoga Teachers and is not likely to in the foreseeable future. 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.
  • 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.


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.


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.

Skillsactive – A government authorised ‘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 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 UK - A UK based organisation offering registration of Teacher Training Programmes and teachers and using a registration schema similar to that used by Yoga Alliance. This registration has no legal force in the UK and Yoga Alliance UK has no aspirations to make it so.

The Awarding Organisations – Currently, BWYQ, CYQ [YMCA] and ITEC. These bodies train teachers or ‘accredit’ third party teacher trainers within the National Qualifications Framework, (though there is no National Occupational Standard or NVQ for Yoga Teachers or Yoga). The awarding bodies are ‘authorised’ by SkillsActive and Ofqual. BWYQ was due to close in November 2017, but there are now moves to integrate it into BWY, which means that it will cease to be independent and therefore will no longer be able to be an awarding organisation under Ofqual regulations.  (Which state the awarding body needs to be independent from the certificating body).  

UKactive [formerly The Fitness Industry Association ] – The employers’ association for the fitness industry, closely related to SkillsActive, having joint membership.

Ofqual - The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation. Ofqual is the government body that regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland.