Regulating Chakras

Yogis bear licenses


Several states are cracking down on yoga studios, demanding fines and fees from businesses that have long operated without interference. The authorities argue that the studios should have to undergo the same licensing process as hairdressers, landscapers, and interior decorators. The state of New York is now threatening unauthorized yogis with $50,000 fines, and Virginia's licensing rules demand a $2,500 fee.

The industry inadvertently brought these new costs on itself. A decade ago, a group of yoga instructors got together to create a list of studios that met voluntary criteria for teacher training. The result was a web page with more than 1,000 names, maintained today by the Yoga Alliance. 

This private accreditation system became irresistible legislator bait. "We made it very, very easy for them to do what they're doing right now," Leslie Kaminoff, founder of the New York yoga center Breathing Project, told The New York Times. Regulators in Michigan, New York, and Virginia have used the public listing of studios provided by the Yoga Alliance to target their enforcement efforts.