Standards for Yoga Teachers

This growing interest resulted in health insurance companies starting to offer Yoga classes themselves, often with only marginally qualified instructors, however. It soon became apparent to the insurance companies that some minimum standards needed to be established regarding basic qualifications for a Yoga teacher. Their subsequently established standards, however, did not quite meet the requirements of the minimum standards that had long been established by the German Association for Yoga Teachers (BDY), their associated schools (we are one of them), and the European Yoga Union (EYU). These BDY/EYU standards have thus far been accepted by 14 European countries and their Yoga unions. They include a 4-year Yoga teacher education with a minimum of 670 classroom hours and a final oral and written examination, as well as a teaching demonstration in front of a Yoga class. The Weg der Mitte Health Foundation (WdM) and its European College for Yoga and Therapy ECYT follow these standards as a basis, but our Yoga Teacher Education is far more encompassing and comprisesmore than twice the hours.

It has proven of great benefit to Yoga that such standards have been in place here for many years, and yet you will still find Yoga centers that offer a one-month "teacher education" program or programs of even shorter duration than this. As the adaptation of standards is voluntary and the title "Yoga Teacher" is not legally protected in Europe, it remains a title anyone can adopt. However, this might change in the future. Our staff has been very involved for many years in the German Association for Yoga Teachers BDY together with several other Yoga schools working seriously to help lift the standards, create quality management, and have Yoga properly presented in the media.

Because of the lack of regulations and general clarity in Yoga education, the current development with health insurance companies is that they have gone to a new extreme. Participants of Yoga courses can at present receive reimbursement for part of the course fee by their health insurance plan only, if the purpose of the course is not Yoga for self-development and enlightenment! A Yoga course must, according to them, be solely for increasing the flexibility of muscles, enhancing the mobility of the skeletal system, or enhancing cardiovascular circulation. This reflects a typical Western medical point of view, completely ignores Yoga's original purpose as a self-developmental path, and does not take the transformative healing aspects of Yoga into account.

In addition, teachers giving insurance-reimbursable courses must meet standards similar to those outlined above — i.e., they must have completed a two to four-year Yoga teacher training program at an acknowledged Yoga school with a final diploma, also they must have obtained either a university degree or have a professional background in a health or social profession. If any of these requirements are missing, the insurance company will refund nothing. Several insurance companies in the larger towns offer their own Yoga courses and only pay if one attends those classes.