State Officials Consider Fate of Yoga Regulation in Idaho and Washington

On Feb 2 a bill was introduced to Idahorsquos House Education Committee on that would exempt yoga instruction from an official state list of quotproprietary schoolsquot A similar bill is awaiting a vote in Washingtonrsquos Senate Photo by Thinkstock
<p>On Feb. 2, a bill was introduced to Idaho&rsquo;s House Education Committee on that would exempt yoga instruction from an official state list of &quot;proprietary schools.&quot; A similar bill is awaiting a vote in Washington&rsquo;s Senate. (Photo by Thinkstock.)</p>

The state legislatures in Idaho and Washington are considering measures that would exempt yoga instruction from regulatory fees that affect for-profit vocational schools such as those for truck driving and welding.

A proprietary schools law in Idaho requires government regulation for any openly advertised for-profit education initiative that formally certifies its practitioners, said Blake Youde, a spokesman for the Idaho State Board of Education, in an interview with The Spokesman-Review. Youde said the board is “netural” on the issue regarding yoga practice but will follow “whatever the statute is at the end of the legislative session.”

If yoga instruction was regulated, routine renewal and certification fees could cost studios as much as $3,000.

Activist group the Yoga Alliance, which represents 80,000 yogis around the world, is currently lobbying state lawmakers to ensure such requirements never go into effect.

"Yoga teacher training is really where people would go to deepen their practice in a group setting,” Alliance Executive Director Barb Dobberthien told the Review. "It’s really about taking their practice of yoga further – very few people make a real living, earning a living wage, at teaching yoga.”

Dobberthein downplayed the business of yoga, insisting the Alliance does not officially certify any of its practitioners. Rather, the group only maintains a "voluntary registry" of members.

“We believe it’s an expensive and burdensome regulation that’s really not necessary – it’s not adding anything to the protection of consumers,” Dobberthien told the Review. She added that yoga is recreational, not technical, in nature, much like martial arts.

On Feb. 2, a bill was introduced to Idaho’s House Education Committee that would exempt yoga instruction from an official state list of proprietary schools. Other exemptions on this list include multiple-day seminars, free employer-to-employee classes and bar exam review courses.

An identical bill is awaiting a vote in Washington’s Senate.

Since 2014, the Alliance has successfully lobbied lawmakers in seven states, including Colorado, to prevent the regulation of yoga instruction. 

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