Frequently Asked Questions
RYS Online Teaching Application
What is the temporary online exemption?
At the onset of COVID-19, Yoga Alliance created the 2021 Online Teaching Exemption which allowed qualified and approved schools to host their teacher training programs 100% online through the end of 2021. Since then, we have developed new online teacher training requirements applicable to RYSs via the 2022-2023 Online Teaching Application. All RYS members who meet qualification requirements can apply to teach their trainings 100% online or in a blended format through the end of 2023. This decision was made in the best interest of public health and safety due to the extended need for physical distancing in many locations and in overwhelming response to membership feedback.
Does the exemption apply to my program? Does this mean that I can now open a new 100% online program or school with my existing RYS credential?
This temporary online exemption applies only to those teacher training programs established and approved under the Yoga Alliance RYS credential for in-person instruction. This provision does not allow an RYS to develop and market a new teacher training designed or intended to be delivered entirely online using its current RYS credentials, regardless of any local social distancing requirements or norms. Doing so is considered a violation of Yoga Alliance’s credentialing standards and will be handled in accordance with accountability procedures. If you have concerns, please email our Accountability Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If YA is allowing RYS members to run trainings entirely online right now, why can’t I start a new all-online training without applying for the Online Teacher Training requirements? Isn’t it the same thing?
In short: no. When Yoga Alliance initially developed and announced the temporary online exemption in March 2020, we believed that the need for it would be short-term and, to support members’ continuity of operations through that short period, intentionally put a limited structure around this exemption.
It is now clear that this need is not short-term, nor are communities likely to return exactly to the way they operated before the pandemic. As the world continues to transition to more and more online connection and engagement, so does the teaching and practice of yoga. We will need the right set of tools and practices to support your needs in this “new normal.” The COVID-19 pandemic also shined a light on what many have long debated—that developing highly trained and prepared yoga teachers can be done with a combination of in-person and online (live and pre-recorded) teaching, as long as the guidelines and parameters for doing so are clear and responsible, and schools have the necessary knowledge, tools, and resources. We are working now to ensure that we know what these tools and resources are for the needs ahead, and that we can support you appropriately.
How is Yoga Alliance monitoring compliance with the RYS standards during this time?
The coronavirus has unexpectedly, rapidly, and significantly changed the circumstances in which RYSs must now share yoga’s teachings, and these circumstances will likely continue to shift in the months ahead as researchers learn more about how this virus is best contained. Our members remain as committed as ever to sharing yoga’s teachings, thoughtfully and safely, even while this ever-evolving situation has forced them to quickly and nimbly develop new tools and practices to do so. Similarly, Yoga Alliance’s commitment to supporting and fostering the high quality, safe, accessible, and equitable teaching of yoga has not and will not change, though the tools and practices we use to support our members through this moment must also adapt and be flexible under these fluid circumstances. This is consistent with the community input we heard in the Standards Review Project, and that is reflected, for example, in the up-leveled RYS 200 standards and member-wide Ethical Commitment.
We are addressing concerns brought to our attention regarding online trainings in the same manner we address concerns about in-person training standards. If you have concerns, please email our Accountability Department at email@example.com. Additionally, all RYS members who are requesting to use this temporary exemption are now required to fill out a request formreporting the credentialed in-person teacher training that they will be offering virtually due to social-distancing requirements.
How do I report a school delivering training online that I believe is violating the RYS standards?
If you believe that an RYS training is not following the Yoga Alliance standards or is being falsely advertised, please email our Accountability Department at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will review the concern and take any necessary appropriate action, ranging from education to suspension to revocation of the RYS credential. If you would like to know more about this process, you can find it on our Grievance Policy page.
I’ve never trained teachers or taught online. What should I do to adapt?
Yoga Alliance has gathered extensive advice on these questions from experts in virtual learning—both for registered school’s COVID-specific teaching needs, as well as from research conducted during our Standards Review Project. Based on these learnings, Yoga Alliance strongly recommends that schools operating virtually make every attempt to conduct training modules in a LIVE format versus recorded, in order to replicate trainees’ in-person experience as much as possible.
Detailed guidance can be found in our RYS Online Learning Best Practices resource guide. If you need support moving your training online, please visit our Business Support pages as well as the and library of digital events for helpful resources.
What if I still don’t feel safe going back to in-person training after December 2023 or if social distancing requirements are still in place where I live?
The health and safety of our members is our top priority. We will continue to monitor the situation and adapt as needed to support our members in delivering high quality, safe, accessible, and equitable yoga teaching.
Coronavirus and COVID-19
What are the best resources to which to refer regarding the coronavirus and COVID-19?
Yoga Alliance strongly encourages everyone to consult their national, state, and local government and health departments to monitor the recommendations and requirements in your particular region. We are referring to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center and its global tracker, which is following the cases of the coronavirus around the world, for the most up-to-date global guidance. Both professional health organizations are highly credible sources of information that are updated on a regular basis.
Please visit our Health Information page on the yourya.org website for up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.
What are Yoga Alliance and the Yoga Alliance Foundation doing to assist members at this time?
In November 2020, the Yoga Alliance Foundation introduced the Eka Recovery Fund and inaugural Teaching for Equity program, which promotes ongoing access to yoga and provides economic recovery support to yoga professionals who teach in communities experiencing marginalization. Earlier in 2020, the Yoga Alliance Foundation also established an Emergency Relief Fund for yoga professionals experiencing economic hardship due to the pandemic.
In addition to these relief and recovery efforts, Yoga Alliance has taken many other steps to assist members in response to COVID-19. Other actions include a membership renewal extension, an Online Teaching Application supporting yoga teacher training in the online space; tools and guidance to facilitate a shift to virtual training and teaching; online workshops addressing business and professional needs during this crisis; options for member dues relief; and virtual gatherings to maintain community and connectedness in a time of stress and physical isolation.
In addition, Yoga Alliance has shared information to its members in the United States on updated legislation as it pertains to small businesses and independent contractors. We also continue to advocate externally on behalf of our members’ needs.
How can I help support yoga professionals who are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19?
We have established a secure donation mechanism that interested parties can use to contribute to relief and recovery programs. Your monetary gift supports yoga professionals’ livelihoods and their important work in sharing this healing practice. 100% of donations made to this Fund go directly to yoga professionals in need.
Organizations interested in pledging support or serving as partners can email email@example.com.
Yoga Alliance Foundation Emergency Relief and Recovery Assistance for Yoga Professionals
In November 2020 the Yoga Alliance Foundation introduced the Eka Recovery Fund and its “Teaching for Equity” pilot program, which promotes ongoing access to yoga and to provide economic recovery support to yoga professionals who teach in historically marginalized communities; the nomination period ended on December 18, 2020. Earlier in 2020 the Yoga Alliance Foundation established an Emergency Relief Fund for yoga professionals experiencing economic hardship due to the pandemic; the application period ended on June 30, 2020.
Why was the “Teaching for Equity” pilot program created, and what is its purpose?
“Teaching for Equity” was introduced to promote ongoing access to yoga and to provide economic recovery support to yoga professionals who teach in historically marginalized communities.
What is a “pilot” program?
A “pilot” approach is a small-scale test of a program model, with the plan for future adaptation and expansion based on lessons learned in the pilot. This program is intentionally starting small so that we can learn from and refine it before doing a larger initiative in the future.
Who is eligible to apply for the program?
This pilot program is open to yoga teachers with a minimum of 2 years of yoga teaching experience within a historically marginalized community, who have been actively or recently teaching for little or no pay, and who are in financial need. For details please see our pilot program information page.
YA members and non-members are eligible to apply, with no geographic limitations. The program is also open to candidates who have previously received funding, grants, or scholarships from Yoga Alliance, the Yoga Alliance Foundation, and/or Ivy Child International.
How did you set the eligibility criteria?
For this pilot program, we are prioritizing support for those yoga teachers who have built relationships and experience teaching in historically marginalized communities, and who have the greatest financial need.
I don’t have anyone to nominate me. Can I nominate myself?
Yes. Yoga teachers can either be nominated by another person or group or can self-nominate.
What does “historically marginalized community” mean, exactly?
“Historically marginalized” refers to a community that may have been excluded in places where yoga is taught, or that has faced barriers that have made it hard for community members to take yoga classes. Some examples of historically marginalized communities include: LGBTQQIA+; BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color); differently-abled; economically marginalized / communities with high poverty; and/or other communities whose yoga classes were stopped or significantly disrupted due to the pandemic (e.g., high poverty, correctional institutions, schools in under-resourced areas, communities with geographic / economic / technological barriers to access). You can also propose teaching in other communities that are not on this list.
When do the teachers selected need to teach the ten yoga class sessions? Is there a set frequency or schedule?
The ten class sessions should be offered between February–May 2021. The frequency should be set by the teacher in partnership with the community. It can be weekly, multiple times a week, or on a schedule that meets the community needs and is workable for the teacher, as long as it falls within the February–May 2021 time period.
Does the yoga teaching need to be in-person?
No. Teaching may be done in person or online, depending on local pandemic conditions and safety precautions.
Can I apply to teach a class that will be donation-based, instead of for free?
No. The program is intended to offer yoga for free in communities that have historically lacked access, and to compensate teachers for their work, time, and expertise.
Is the stipend rate the same for people applying for different countries around the world?
No. The stipend amount varies by country, because the average payment for teaching yoga differs around the world. To set the stipend rate we will use the World Bank’s national cost of living index.
How can I support relief and recovery assistance for yoga professionals?
We have established a secure donation mechanism that interested parties can use to contribute to relief and recovery programs. Your monetary gift will support yoga professionals’ livelihoods and their important work in sharing this healing practice. We thank you for your contribution in helping us continue to foster the high quality, safe, accessible, and equitable teaching of yoga.
What is the Yoga Alliance Foundation Emergency Relief Fund?
The Yoga Alliance Foundation Emergency Relief Fund supported yoga professionals as individuals by offering short-term assistance to meet basic and essential needs. This meant that studio and school owners could apply for individual support due to financial hardship, but the Fund could not provide business-level grants.
All yoga professionals around the globe experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 were eligible to apply for funding support (including Yoga Alliance members and non-members). The most important criterion was the urgency of need. Funding was prioritized for those whose economic survival depended on their yoga teaching income and who could no longer earn this income due to COVID-19 to meet their basic needs such as food and shelter.
The Emergency Relief Fund closed to new applications on June 30, 2020.
Yoga Alliance Foundation also contributed to the Reclamation Ventures Wellness Relief Fund as part of its COVID-19 response and assistance.
Transitioning Your School or Business to Online
My yoga school is facing large income loss due to COVID-19. Is Yoga Alliance offering or considering renewal extensions, waived fees, lowering dues, or payment plan options?
Yoga Alliance recognizes and understands the financial impact this pandemic may have on our members. As such, we are actively considering how best to accommodate any extension of membership or other consideration to acknowledge the financial hardships many schools and teachers are experiencing during this unknown time, and we will publicly share these updates as we have them.
Can an RYS (all designations) utilize distance learning for teacher trainings during this time?
Yes, all current RYS members who apply and meet RYS Online Teacher Training Requirements can apply to teach their trainings online.
I have always offered classes and trainings online. Does this mean I can automatically receive a Yoga Alliance credential now that trainings are being moved to the virtual space?
No. Yoga Alliance uses sound research, data, and proven methodologies to shape its standards to meet the global yoga community’s needs, including their adaptation to the online environment. In order to host teacher training programs online, Registered Yoga Schools (RYSs) must follow a unique set of requirements, which adhere to the Yoga Alliance Ethical Commitment.
In order to uphold the integrity of its credentials, Yoga Alliance regularly assesses its policies and procedures and may incorporate additional changes to existing and future standards requirements.
If I make the choice to reschedule my training and not move my RYS online for virtual learning, do I need to refund trainees who can no longer attend the new dates?
There are a few options. Since you have decided to not offer training online, you can reschedule for a later date, or provide trainees with a refund. We recommend referencing the cancellation/refund policies you have in place and determining if adjustments are necessary to support your business and your trainees.
Do my virtual teacher training classes need to be live-streamed, or can they be prerecorded?
Our online best practices states one should vary the delivery of the online content, providing a balanced blend of prerecorded and live material in order to serve multiple modalities of learning.
For more on bringing your business or classes to the online space, please refer to our Professional Resources webpage.
We are offering an upcoming international training and need to plan. Can we safely offer this training in the upcoming months?
We understand that many countries are experiencing continuous impacts of COVID-19 at different rates. As such, we will continue to review the facts and communicate to the larger membership our recommendations on all teacher trainings.
As a studio owner, can I file a claim with my insurance company for the business interruption that COVID-19 has caused?
To address insurance policy concerns, please refer to your specific insurance policy and contact your insurance company with additional questions. Members are advised to carefully and thoroughly read their unique insurance policies and to seek further professional advice as needed.
Yoga Alliance held workshops with our Alliant Insurance Partners to address many of the questions Yoga Alliance members have regarding their Yoga Alliance Professional Liability policy and extension of coverage. Click on the links below for access to the digital events or visit our financial support page for recommended more digital events relating to this topic.
Transitioning Your Teaching to Online
There has been a recent increase in free online yoga, and teaching yoga in-person (in a classroom, studio, or otherwise) supports my livelihood. Does Yoga Alliance have any advice on how to monetize and/or be paid for virtual teaching?
Yoga Alliance is working with leaders in the virtual space to provide tools for members on how to best offer online classes and be financially compensated for their service. We also acknowledge some studios and teachers will want to offer free classes as part of Seva, which may conflict with the need to maintain yoga professionals’ livelihoods. We will hold conversations on this dialogue to better understand how to address this unique situation. Please regularly check out our Events page, yourya.org, and/or keep your eyes on your email for our COVID-19 bulletin for more information.
Additionally, we recommend that you carefully review the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act which offers federal support for small businesses during this time.
Will teaching yoga classes virtually count as teaching hours?
Yes. Hours that are taught virtually may be counted as regular teaching hours. As a reminder, Yoga Alliance recommends all RYTs utilize their dashboard to keep track of the hours they teach.
How do we offer distance classes for those who don’t have access to technology or aren’t as technology savvy, such as the elderly, the hard of hearing, those in mental health facilities, or those in prison?
We understand that social distancing causes certain barriers and that not everyone has access to the technology required to learn via online classes. In the absence of virtual accessibility, teachers may recommend or use other resources, such as yoga texts, journaling, audio recordings, and traditional play-back videos.
Is it OK to continue holding private sessions during this time?
Given the high variability of the COVID-19 situation worldwide, we recommend that yoga professionals commit to ALL of the following actions as a guide to their decision-making on when and how to offer in-person yoga teaching and training:
- Commit to the yogic principle of ahimsa (non-harm), acknowledging that in facing a global pandemic, the choices we make as individuals can either help or harm others.
- Use credible public health information resources on how to prevent transmission and minimize risks. Remain vigilant against the threat of misinformation and disinformation.
- Follow state and local laws, and stay up to date on transmission rates in your community.
To work through this crisis, we must use scientifically sound and credible sources, be attentive to the needs within our communities, and recognize how deeply we are interconnected. Perhaps more than ever, we are dependent on each other’s actions and how we choose to care for one another.
Everyone should consult their national, state, and local government and health departments to monitor what the local recommendations are for your particular region. We are referring to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center and its global tracker, which is following the cases of the coronavirus around the world, for the most up-to-date global guidance. Both professional health organizations are highly credible sources of information that are updated on a regular basis.
Please visit our Health Information page on the yourya.org website for up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 and read our guidebook (U.S and International) for in-person teaching best practices during COVID-19.
How can we balance/reconcile the need for social distancing to slow the spread of the virus with the call to help those in need—not just with the physical practice of yoga, but in larger community efforts, such as helping feed school children who rely on school meals and collecting supplies for the elderly and immunocompromised?
We understand there are many communities and volunteers that are supporting these efforts across the globe. Many already have plans in place to accommodate the needs of their unique communities while respecting professional health recommendations. To get involved, we recommend checking with your local government and volunteer organizations for more information.
Does my insurance cover online teacher trainings and classes? How do I go about finding out? What do I do if they do not?
To address insurance policy concerns, please refer to your specific insurance policy and contact your insurance company with additional questions. Members are advised to carefully and thoroughly read their unique insurance policies and to seek further professional advice as needed.
Additionally, Yoga Alliance held workshops with our Alliant Insurance Partners to address many of the questions Yoga Alliance members have regarding their Yoga Alliance Professional Liability policy and extension of coverage. Click on the links below for access to the digital events or visit our financial support page for recommended more digital events relating to this topic.
- Yoga Alliance Facebook Live |Q & A with Alliant Insurance Representative regarding Yoga Alliance Professional Liability Policy– June 17, 2020.
- Insurance and Risk Management Considerations in the COVID-19 World– April 10, 2020.
If I offer virtual classes, do I need different liability waivers?
Sample release and liability waivers can be found here. However to address be sure to refer to your specific insurance policy and contact your insurance company with additional questions. Members are advised to carefully and thoroughly read their unique insurance policies and to seek further professional advice as needed.
Is my credential at risk if I do not follow the recommendations provided by Yoga Alliance communication regarding COVID-19? I feel I know my business and circumstances best and feel more comfortable making my own decisions.
No. Your credential is not at risk.
We at Yoga Alliance are committed to adopting the practices that offer the best protection for our communities. Due to the increasingly rapid transmission of COVID-19, we are aligning with other global institutions and organizations to do our part to limit the spread of this disease, hence our strong recommendation that we limit in-person instruction at this time.
We know this is likely to cause extreme hardship for yoga schools, studios, and contractors. We don’t make this recommendation lightly but do so in the interest of preserving public health, which we can only do together.
If you would like more information about how we arrived at this decision, please click here for a more comprehensive statement.
What are the music copyright considerations for playing music while teaching my class virtually?
Playing music during a yoga class, regardless of location, constitutes as a public performance, which means one should receive permission from the copyright owner. Rights are typically attained through the payment of a licensing fee to a Performing Rights Organization (PRO).
For more information, you can also refer to our music copyright online workshop and article for a crash course in music licensing. If you are seeking more information on Internet law, you can watch this online workshop, “Internet Laws for Yoga.”
Please note, this information covers music licensing in the United States. If you are a member outside of the US, please consult a legal professional within your country.
Becoming & Staying Credentialed Online
I am unable to meet my Continuing Education (CE) hour requirement because my course was cancelled due to COVID-19. What can I do to make up those hours?
Due to the ongoing nature of COVID-19, we implemented the 2021 RYS Online Teaching Exemption allowing school members to offer in-person contact hours via virtual format, and teacher members to log approved online trainings along with online teaching hours toward their CE requirements through the end of 2021. After this date, all schools must fill out the 2022-2023 Online Teaching Application, including a new set of requirements, in order to teach their approved trainings online from Jan 1, 2022 until Dec 31, 2023. All teachers may continue to teach and receive CE credit online.
For more information, please review our Continuing Education Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
Given social distancing requirements and recommendations, will Yoga Alliance relax the requirement for teachers to be in front of trainees, i.e., can we allow trainees to either teach live via video for their teacher’s feedback and/or record themselves teaching to send to their teacher for review?
Yes, Yoga Alliance will allow trainees to teach live via video and/or record themselves teaching live to send to their teacher for review.
For the Lead Trainer observation requirements (and other teachers), will Yoga Alliance accept hours where a trainer is teaching via Zoom or other virtual platform and the trainees are watching them from afar?
Yes. Yoga Alliance will accept hours where a trainer is teaching via an online and/or virtual platform for trainees’ observation.
I am actively enrolled in an RYS 300 professional-level training to up-level to Yoga Alliance’s new Lead Trainer requirements. Given the circumstances, will Yoga Alliance be extending the time Lead Trainers have to up-level to the new trainer requirements?
Within the Elevated Standards, we strengthened the RYS 200 Lead Trainer requirements (from E-RYT 200 to E-RYT 500) to better promote consistency, quality, and safety within YTT programs. We previously stated that all lead trainers must meet these requirements by February 2022. Please note that this deadline is under adjustment. If your RYS 300 is not currently enrolled in our 2021 RYS Online Exemption, you can ask them to visit our website or contact us so that we can work with them to limit any disruption to your current learning environment.
Building a Community Online
What are the best practices for online learning?
To review online learning best practices, please refer to the online learning best practices included in the Guide to RYS Application, and/or review the Standards Review Project Online Learning working group paper about considerations as they pertain to online learning.
What platforms do you recommend for both virtual classrooms and online learning?
Yoga Alliance members receive a discount with Teachable, which is an online platform created specifically for online course generation. Members receive between 15-30% off subscriptions by logging into their Yoga Alliance dashboards.
Other online platforms that include both free and paid-for options include Canvas, Skype, Zoom, Vimeo, YouTube, Facebook Live, IGTV, and Crowdcast. We recommend members research and explore platforms at their convenience to choose the one that is right for them.
For more on bringing your business to the online space, please refer to our Professional Resources webpage.
Is there a way to connect with other Yoga Alliance members to share resources and information?
YA CommUnity was launched in October 2020, for members to connect in sangha and support. Within the CommUnity, yoga professionals around the world can share information, resources, and experiences; and form personal peer-to-peer relationships that may enhance your livelihoods, strengthen your network, and inspire your yoga teaching and practice.
Through its dynamic features and applications, the CommUnity helps to foster inclusion and accessibility within the Yoga Alliance membership and elevate the profession of yoga through credible collaboration opportunities. It also affords Yoga Alliance the opportunity to further live its associational values, particularly those of Unity, Inquiry, and Seva.
Among the CommUnity’s features are:
- The ability to swap files, share resources, and post content;
- Designated spaces to ask and answer important questions for your profession and practice;
- Access to the diverse, inspiring breadth and depth of members’ shared experiences and knowledge; and
- Real-time engagement with other yoga professionals just like you.
This new platform is designed for our members, but only thrives with our members. You are its champions and spearheads, its wisdom keepers and content generators, its heart and soul.
Re-opening Your Studio and Transitioning Back to In-Person Teaching
- Compiled guidance to support yoga schools, businesses and professionals globally and in the United States for best practice recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic.