The New York Times reports on an unlikely new front in the war on meddlesome and unnecessary occupational licensing laws:
It seemed like a good idea at the time. Ten years ago, with yoga transforming itself into a ubiquitous pop culture phenomenon from a niche pursuit, yoga teachers banded together to create a voluntary online registry of schools meeting new minimum standards for training instructors in the discipline.
But that list-which now includes nearly 1,000 yoga schools nationwide, many of them tiny-is being put to a use for which it was never intended. It is the key document in a nationwide crackdown on yoga schools that pits free-spirited yogis against lumbering state governments, which, unlike those they are trying to regulate, are not always known for their flexibility.
Citing laws that govern vocational schools, like those for hairdressers, chiropractors and truck drivers, regulators have begun to require licenses for yoga schools that train instructors, with all the fees, inspections and paperwork that entails. While confrontations have played out differently in different states, threats of shutdowns and fines have, in some cases, been met with accusations of power grabs and religious infringement-disputes that seem far removed from the meditative world yoga calls to mind.