Occupational Licensing

A Strike Against State Regulation of Yoga Teachers in Colorado

Bill would exempt yoga teacher training schools from costly state certification

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@SenAndyKarr/Twitter

Hooray for Colorado lawmakers who aren't that worried about yogis learning crow pose in a non-state-approved manner. Last week, a state Senate committee approved a bill to exempt yoga-teacher training centers from burdensome certification requirements and fees imposed by the state Division of Private Occupational Schools (DPOS). 

"For years, the yoga teacher training schools have been operating without government intervention," said state Sen. Laura Woods (R-Arvada), who introduced the legislation, Senate Bill 186*. "In all those years, we do not know of a single complaint against the yoga teacher training schools."

Yet under DPOS' requirements, passed in 2002, yoga-teacher training schools must be certified by the state, at a cost of $1,750 for the first two years and $1,500 every three years after that. Additional fees must be paid per student per quarter, and for every school "agent" authorized to enter into contract with students. And schools must also secure a minimum bond of $5,000. Enforcement of these requirements was lax until last fall, when one yoga teacher complained that only six of the state's schools were in compliance. DPOS responded by mailing letters to 82 training schools.

The backlash from yogis was swift. Nonprofit trade group The Yoga Alliance began lobbying against the regulations, and local yoga studios and teachers protested. "The state is trying to create a solution where there is not a problem," yoga instructor Nancy Levinson told the Denver Post

Under S.B. 186, which passed the Senate education committee last Wednesday and now heads to the appropriation committee, yoga teacher training schools would be exempt from DPOS oversight. State law requires the agency to regulate private schools that charge tuition for occupational programs. But Sens. Woods and Dore argue that yoga teacher training is "avocational," meaning it is "designed to facilitate the personal development of individual persons … and not conducted as part of a program or course designed with the primary objective to prepare individuals for gainful employment in a recognized occupation." 

* Originally stated that Woods co-sponsored bill with Tim Dore; Republican Rep. Dore actually introduced similar legislation in the House.