Colorado State Senator Assumes the Position for Yoga Bill

Colorado Senate Bill 186, which exempts yoga teacher training courses, programs and schools from the provisions of Colorado's Private Occupational Education Act of 1981, will move to the full Colorado Senate for a vote.

State legislation sometimes forces politicians into uncomfortable positions.

In Colorado, though, legislation has put at least one state senator into a crowd-pleasing yoga position.

At issue is Colorado Senate Bill 186, which exempts yoga teacher training courses, programs and schools from the provisions of Colorado's Private Occupational Education Act of 1981. Yoga training certification has been a hot topic in the Centennial State since last fall, when a yogi complained to the state that only six yoga teacher training studios statewide were following a 2002 regulation that required state certification.

In response, the Colorado Division of Private Occupational Schools (DPOS) sent letters to more than 80 yoga studios that offer yoga teacher trainings, warning studios that they may need to be approved by the division's board and pay fees because the state may consider them "occupational schools."

Yogis in Colorado, along with Yoga Alliance, a nonprofit association that represents more than 55,000 registered yoga teachers and more than 3,500 yoga schools in the United States, reacted by claiming that registration or certification fees starting at $1,750 and rising to more than $3,000 upon first renewal, would be enough to knock some smaller studios and schools off their yoga mats and out of business.

The Yoga Alliance also rallied yoga instructors to write letters to Colorado legislators urging an exemption for yoga studios and teachers from DPOS certification and regulation, on the grounds that yoga studios have self-regulated for years without any consumer complaint.

"Teaching yoga instructors is a classic example of a vocation that can effectively self-regulate through professional associations and consumer feedback," the Denver Post Editorial Board said in an editorial posted on Feb. 27. "Nor are there serious safety or health issues demanding state attention."

The state did pay attention, at least in the form of Bill 186, sponsored by State Sen. Laura Woods, Rep. Alec Garnett and Rep. Tim Dore. The bill has already passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on a bipartisan unanimous vote, and before that, passed the Education Committee, also via unanimous vote, which is where State Sen. Owen Hill, a Republican from Colorado Springs, delighted a crowd in a Senate hearing room by assuming the yoga "crow" pose, wherein a person balances themselves with their knees on their elbows. Hill's pose was Tweeted by fellow representatives and run in both The Denver Post and Colorado Springs Independent.

The bill has now been passed to the full Colorado Senate for a vote.

"It's going to fly through the Senate," Sen. Woods told The Denver Post. The paper noted that Woods "added she won't be doing any yoga poses herself after the vote."

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