All Yoga Alliances are the Same


“All Yoga Alliances Are The Same”







In the true spirit of yoga, meaning “UNION”, Yoga Organisations worldwide should be UNITED and work together to benefit the yoga community at large.

Just as Yoga has one underlying philosophy of UNION but many different styles and practical expressions of that philosophy, one would expect the Yoga Alliances (the peak bodies for yoga in the world) to uphold the teachings of yoga and foster the integrity of yoga teachers and schools from all lineages and traditions.

With Yoga nowadays a multi-billion dollar industry, it is no surprise that the yoga industry has become a diversified market with a number of independent Yoga Alliance organisations been established  to serve the fast growing community of yoga professionals in Europe, Australia, Canada, Asia and North America.

Although the Alliances are legally separate entities governed by the law of the country where they were established, Yoga Alliance -International Australia, Yoga Alliance Professionals UK, the Canadian Yoga Alliance, Yoga Alliance Italia-International, Yoga Alliance International with headquarter in Sydney (not to be confused with the Indian YAI) Yoga Alliance New Zealand and Yoga Alliance U.S are today considered the world’s largest, independent membership yoga organisations.

The designation of Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) and Registered Yoga School (RYS) are the premier form of recognition in the field of yoga. The credentialing system implemented by the aforementioned Yoga Alliances remains the globally accepted professional credential for yoga teachers and yoga schools.

But what about “UNITY” beyond the walls of the Yoga Alliances? Shouldn’t these organisations be UNITED and work together to make a positive difference for the community of yoga practitioners,teachers and schools worldwide? Shouldn’t they all advocate UNITY?


Unfortunately, union can be difficult when the ego becomes involved in business and this became apparent when one particular organisation: Yoga Alliance U.S, who in November 2014, just two months after the resignation of its CEO Richard Karpel who basically saved YA from imminent demise, published an article on their web-site “Not All Yoga Alliances Are the Same”.

In the article, Yoga Alliance U.S claim that the name Yoga Alliance is their name rather than Yoga Alliance U.S which is a “moniker” (nickname) according to them, that “some other entities use to refer to them”. However with Alliance Organisations established across the globe whose name: “Yoga Alliance” is a registered trademark and the property of those organisations, why does Yoga Alliance U.S claim that the name Yoga Alliance is “their name”? IP (Intellectual Property) Offices from around the world would not allow the registering of trademarks if exclusivity already existed. In 2005 Yoga Alliance U.S registered  the Trademark “Yoga Alliance” in the jurisdiction of the USA only.

In the same article, Yoga Alliance U.S went on to publish a list of Yoga Alliance organisations they claimed to not be affiliated with which includes the officially recognised: “Yoga Alliance Australia/International”, “Yoga Alliance Italia/International”, “Yoga Alliance International” with headquarter in Australia, “Yoga Alliance Professionals UK” and the “Canadian Yoga Alliance”.

Not surprising, Yoga Alliance U.S failed to mention in the article that when in 2006 they were contacted by a group of yoga teachers who asked if they were interested in setting up a Yoga Alliance outside the USA, they were told that their organisation had been set up in the States, under United States law and specifically for the USA, and they were NOT considering establishing counterpart in other countries. However, in the spirit of yoga, Yoga Alliance U.S was very helpful and encouraged the group to set up a version of Yoga Alliance outside the U.S, and offered to give  advice and help if needed.

In the meantime, the CEO of Yoga Alliance U.S, with whom the group was in discussion, was removed from office, and Yoga Alliance U.S’s former warmth became distinctly cold and distant to the point of threatening the group with legal action if they did not stop calling themselves Yoga Alliance.

The threat was withdrawn because the group succeeded to register the trademarks Yoga Alliance, RYT and RYS in the country where they had established a Yoga Alliance. However, it was disappointing to find that the spirit of sharing and cooperation one would expect between similar organisations set up to promote the benefits of yoga and maintain high teaching standards, no longer existed.

Whereas some may agree with Yoga Alliance U.S that “Not All Yoga Alliances Are the Same” as there are indeed exceptional Yoga Alliances that have brought a fresh, fairer approach to Yoga Teachers and Yoga Schools credentialing  system ensuring high  Standards for teacher training are maintained, members of the yoga community worldwide, found that sadly the article on the Yoga Alliance U.S web-site does not incorporate the Philosophy of Yogic Yamas and Nyamas as would be expected from an organisation that ‘promotes’ Yoga Unity and Integrity.

In fact, Yoga Alliance U.S does not register yoga teachers who have graduated from a Teacher Training Program with the British Wheel of Yoga (the oldest yoga organisation in the world founded in 1965 in the UK, longer before YA U.S even existed) or with schools registered with Yoga Alliance-International Australia, the Canadian Yoga Alliance, Yoga Alliance Professionals-UK, Yoga Alliance-International Italia or Yoga Alliance-New Zealand.

What refrains Yoga Alliance U.S  from registering members from its highly respected counterparts?  Why for nearly 16 years and until November 2014 Yoga Alliance U.S coexisted in harmony with its fellow Alliances?

Is it a competitive feeling, greed, envy of others success and achievements or a divide and conquer attitude that triggered  Yoga Alliance U.S to write the article? Why does an organisation that claims to promote ” Unity and Integrity” feels that it should shift its focus on the competition?

Why does Yoga Alliance U.S struggle to accept that they are NOT a Global Yoga Governing Body and find it difficult to practice what they preach: Unity and Integrity?


Yoga Alliance U.S is mindful that its counterparts don’t copy what others do; instead, they use innovative ideas to come up with a unique product, or service for themselves. They tend to distance themselves from the competition rather than compete with them. If they see another organisation “copying what they do”, they create something new and better. In other words, they are able to leverage their creativity and their innovative capabilities to attain long-term success.

Any business, that has separation or “divide and conquer” as its underlying attitude, will end up becoming divided itself, and we must constantly be vigilant to ensure that our own personal ego’s do not affect our business decisions in a way that is harmful to others (in this way we practice ahimsa and non-harming). There are many ways that organisations can work together to support each other. Building relationships with similar businesses in your industry will also help your bottom line.

Over the past twelve years, the Canadian Yoga Alliance (the second largest Alliance in the world with over 7500 members), Yoga Alliance Professionals-UK (the third largest Alliance in the world with over 4000 members),Yoga Alliance Australia/International,  Yoga Alliance- Italia/International, Yoga Alliance International and Yoga Alliance-New Zealand (the largest Group of Alliances) gained popularity and respect  amongst the yoga community and acquired market strength nationally and internationally. These organisations coexist in harmony because they think of their relationship with fellow Yoga Organisations as ‘coopetition’ rather than ‘competition’ unlike their counterpart Yoga Alliance U.S.


What  does tearing others down do for Yoga Alliance U.S?  Well, tearing others down might make one feel better. No doubt! But the truth is that no one likes anyone who tears others down. If you are bad-mouthing someone, it might make you feel better, but others won’t like it. You will gain a bad reputation, and your bad-mouthing will come back to hurt you. If you are sabotaging others, that’s even worse.

If you become an obstacle to others’ success, they will despise you for it. They will try to get around you, and failing that, will try to go through you. Your energies and time will be spent trying to stop others, and defending yourself against their attacks.

What a waste of precious time and energy dear Yoga Alliance U.S! Couldn’t you spend that better on building things yourself? On creating something beautiful and truly useful? and perhaps  improve the quality of your Standards??

Tearing others down is destructive. It hurts other people, and in the long run, it’ll hurt you and your members also registered with your competitors. Don’t waste your time and energy on it! Instead, build others up. Praise their success. Learn to be truly happy for the successes of others, rather than envious. Be a part of their success, rather than an obstacle. Participating in something great, including the successes of others, is a wonderful thing to have accomplished.


Building Alliances with similar businesses in your industry and working together is an important dynamic for organisations to understand. If you feel that you have to take steps to position yourself against the competition and you focus on the competition, “you might miss something important in your own business”.

Relationships typically move up and down a continuum based on a number of factors:the degree of commitment; the nature of changes required; relative levels of power and trust; the willingness of all parties to share resources, and most importantly, the state of mind of the parties involved.

Nowadays, it is essential for your organization’s success that you are an effective collaborator rather than an untrustworthy competitor. Why? Because if we develop the mindset of scarcity we create an environment of fear and see everyone else as a threat to our survival.

If you cultivate the mindset of co-operation you create an environment of opportunity and creativity which encourages the same state of mindfulness not only in other organisations but within your own organisation and this is imperative to the survival of your business.

Given the rise in popularity that yoga is experiencing on an international level, there is no need for yoga businesses to adopt the mindset of scarcity and fear. This is particularly important in bringing the philosophy of Yoga to western nations.  If the philosophy of yoga businesses is seen to be one of competition, division and self-interest then this will be a grave injustice to this ancient art and philosophy and a disservice to its cultural heritage.


Yoga is currently unregulated everywhere in the world, as such there is NO official Yoga Governing Body anywhere in the world recognised by a government, and anyone claiming otherwise is misrepresenting themselves and misleading the yoga community and the general public.

Real learning comes about when the competitive spirit has ceased. Jiddu Krishnamurti



Leave a Reply