Advocacy

Advocacy for the Yoga Profession

As the peak body for yoga in Australia, Yoga Australia actively encourages and facilitates action to improve the quality of the profession in Australia. We effect positive change for members and practitioners in the Yoga community.

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Our advocacy activities

Direct action:

  • We engage with all levels of government and the health industry 
  • We lobby on behalf of teachers to improve rates of pay, fair superannuation etc
  • We promote a broader understanding of yoga as an established modality to support health and well-being
  • We support reputable research and case studies that demonstrate the impact that yoga can have in many parts of the community
  • We conduct industry forums where policy can be discussed, and we facilitate collaboration with primary and secondary stakeholders both within yoga and the broader community. Keep reading to learn more about our policy and legislative advocacy.

Beyond strictly yoga-related advocacy, we also actively take part in many other good-for-the-world activities, such as those that impact our environment.

Our advocacy aims:

  • Improve the understanding of yoga and its role in health and wellness; 
  • Encourage government, health industry, and health professionals to develop their understanding of yoga and its role in providing beneficial outcomes and positive changes for the community;  
  • Ensure our members engagement in regulatory and policy changes; 
  • Encourage research into the impact of yoga in the community
  • Promote the development of policy and regulation to support and improve the quality of yoga 
  • Contribute to broader policy issues affecting health and well-being where our perspective will add value.

Yoga Australia’s Guiding Principles

Underpinning our code of professional conduct

Yoga is a system of self-enquiry, self-transformation, and self-realisation. Its practices and lifestyle aim to integrate the body, mind, heart, and spirit to innate wholeness.

The role of the yoga professional is to guide and support participants in the practice of yoga. This includes nurturing yoga participants in their physical, emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being.

This Statement of Ethics guides yoga professionals in their work of supporting participants’ yoga practice. It is based on the traditional yogic ethical principles, the yama and niyama, as outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

This Statement of Ethics reflects the timeless, living principle; that our essential nature is awake, aware, compassionate, and peaceful.

As yoga professionals we are guided by yogic ethical principles outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras:

Ahimsa – Nonviolence and Compassion   

We seek to do no harm and support the needs and wellbeing of our community. We demonstrate and act with compassion and care within the scope of our practice.

Satya – Truthfulness   

We acknowledge and respect the origins of the yoga practice and provide a truthful safe environment for ourselves and our community.

Asteya – Not stealing  

We provide equal opportunities to all, and we make a conscious decision about what we will receive.

Brahmacharya – Self-Restraint in the path to wholeness  

We practice self-restraint in professional – practitioner relationships in recognition that it serves yoga’s essential goals. Our energy and actions are directed toward these aims.

Aparigraha – Non-clinging   

We practise the principle of nonattachment and generosity and welcome change, acknowledging the natural abundance of life.

Sauca – Purity/Cleanliness   

We cultivate purity of body, mind, and environment. This includes fostering clarity of intention, ongoing self-care, and a safe environment for yoga practice.

Santosha – Contentment/Happiness   

We practice an active acceptance of the present thus developing deep happiness.

Tapas – Discipline  

We are dedicated to a disciplined commitment to yogic lifestyle.

Svadhyaya – Self-Study  

We are committed to ongoing self-enquiry, self-reflection and continued learning.

Ishvarapranidhana – Relationship with Wholeness  

We aim to serve the deepest goals of yoga. We honour and encourage an on-going relationship with innate wholeness and oneness with all life.

The standards of ethical and professional behaviour expected of members

Yoga Australia’s Code of Professional Conduct makes explicit the standards of ethical and professional behaviour expected of registered Yoga Australia teachers, yoga therapists and training providers by their peers and the community.

This code is a practical application of Yoga Australia’s Statement of Ethics. It offers guidance to teachers in their role of supporting practitioners in their practice of yoga.

This Code applies to all teaching members of Yoga Australia. It also informs yoga practitioners and the community of the level of professional behaviour required of Yoga Australia’s teaching members.

Membership Obligations

Yoga Australia is the peak national body for registration and representation of Yoga Professionals from all traditions and styles of yoga, independent from any one teacher-training provider. Yoga Australia has an important role in guiding the national direction of yoga practice in Australia. As such, we have a responsibility to set standards for membership with care to protect both the public and the tradition of yoga.

All Yoga Australia members are required to:

  • abide by the Yoga Australia Constitution
  • abide by the Yoga Australia Statement of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct
  • maintain currency of First Aid Qualifications
  • meet Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements
  • agree to the Member Statement of Acknowledgement.

Yoga Professional– Practitioner Relationship

The yoga professional – practitioner relationship requires high standards of professional conduct to respect the rights, trust and dignity of all practitioners. In this context the word ‘practitioner’ includes those attending yoga classes, yoga therapy clients, teacher trainees and those being mentored.

Yoga Australia’s Codes emphasise trust and safety as the basis for the professional – practitioner relationship:

Respect and Rights

Yoga Australia Professionals will:

  • Demonstrate respect to all practitioners regardless of cultural background, age, gender identity, ethnicity, physical and mental abilities, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs.
  • Recognise and value the diversity of values, beliefs, and goals of all yoga practitioners.

Confidentiality

Yoga Australia Professionals will:

  • Protect practitioners’ privacy and right to confidentiality.
  • Obtain explicit consent from practitioners before making audio or visual recordings and permitting third party observation of yoga sessions.
  • Obtain consent from practitioners for mailing lists and be clear about the content of mail-outs and respect their right to opt out of communication at any time.
  • Demonstrate duty of care and respect for your scope of practice by offering a referral to a registered professional:
    • GPs
    • Psychologists and counsellors
    • Physiotherapists
    • Massage therapists
    • Or a relevant support group as listed below

www.lifeline.org.au 13 11 14
www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au 1300 659 467
www.kidshelp.com.au 1800 55 1800
www.mensline.org.au 1300 78 99 78

In non-emergency situations, if you would like to receive assistance or discuss options for referrals, you can contact the Yoga Australia office (1300 881 451) and we will assist you.

Effective Communication

Relationships based on trust and clear communication enable yoga professionals to work effectively with practitioners.

Yoga Australia Professionals will:

  • communicate with practitioners in a courteous, respectful, compassionate, and honest manner
  • demonstrate respect for practitioners through actions, language, and behaviour
  • listen actively to practitioners needs, concerns, and preferences\
  • instruct and describe safe yoga practices
  • obtain consent to physically adjust a practitioners and practice adjustments respectfully
  • provide constructive and comments about a practitioners practice and avoid denigrating them.

Safety

Yoga Australia Professionals will:

  • maintain a safe, clean, and comfortable environment for the teaching and practice of yoga.
  • maintain safety procedures for yoga equipment
  • support the safety of practitioners in the teaching of yoga
  • adhere to relevant legislative requirements relating to safety and care including Occupational Health and Safety and Duty of Care requirements
  • maintain public liability and professional indemnity insurance
  • maintain current first aid training qualification and competency.

Professional Boundaries

Yoga Australia professionals will:

  • be considerate of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs of practitioners
  • respect the preferences and limitations of practitioners
  • maintain appropriate professional boundaries
  • recognise the power-imbalance between professional and practitioner and behave in a manner that does not harass or exploit practitioners physically, psychologically, emotionally, sexually, or financially
  • declare and take appropriate steps to address any conflict of interest that may arise with practitioners
  • avoid relationships that could compromise the integrity of the professional – practitioner relationship.

Grievances

Yoga Australia Professionals will:

  • acknowledge the practitioners right to make a complaint
  • take all necessary actions to resolve any complaints or grievances as outlined in the Yoga Australia Grievance Policy.

These guidelines provide information to support and create awareness of the rights and responsibilities of yoga practitioners.

This document can be utilised by registered Yoga Australia teachers to create their own studio policies and procedures or by yoga participants to better understand their rights and responsibilities.

Yoga Student Rights

Yoga students have the right to be guided in their yoga practice by a fully qualified professional that respects and ensures their rights:

  • To feel safe.
  • To maintain privacy and confidentiality.
  • To be treated equally.
  • To be free from exploitation in their relationship.
  • To provide and retrieve consent for physical adjustments during a yoga session.
  • To decline physical adjustments if preferred.
  • To ask questions.
  • To seek a second opinion.
  • To contact Yoga Australia with concerns around professional conduct.

Phone 1300 881 451

Yoga Student Responsibilities

  • Arrive on time and turn off your mobile phone as per studio/ yoga professional’s request
  • Keep noise to a minimum before, during and after class and be respectful of those who wish to sit quietly or meditate.
  • Avoid wearing strong scents to class including strong smelling deodorant and essential oils. Prior to class avoid offensive food or bodily odours in the class environment.
  • Wear suitable clothing in line with the style and tradition of yoga practice and space that you chose.
  • For safety, do not rush ahead of instructions,
  • Avoid eating heavy meals at least two hours before class.
  • Respect others physical and emotional space.
  • Do not practice or attend a class under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Notify the teacher of injuries and/or conditions.
  • Ensure you rest or ask for assistance if you feel a pose isn’t right for you.
  • Understand and read the role of the Yoga Professional (Code of Professional Conduct)
  • Understand and read the code of the ethics for a Yoga Professional (Statement of Ethics)
  • Check your teacher’s qualifications and that their registration is up to date via Yoga Australia website.
  • Stay for the duration of the class or let your teacher know if you need to leave as they have a duty of care.
  • If you think your teacher may be in breach of their code of conduct, contact Yoga Australia

You should never feel under pressure to:

  • Perform beyond your physical capability on the day.
  • Withhold your concerns over something that is occurring to yourself or others in the teaching environment.
  • Take on belief systems or “spiritual” practices that are not appropriate for yourself.
  • Be touched or spoken to unprofessionally.
  • Partake in unwanted group discussions and practices or provided with unwarranted advice.
  • Should you feel that your teacher may be in breach of their code of conduct and you are not in a position to resolve this yourself, you can contact us to discuss and/or lodge a formal grievance.

 

Professionalism expected by peers, practitioners, and the community.

Professional Performance

Yoga Australia professionals will:

  • Maintain their own yoga practice.
  • Maintain currency of teaching skills and knowledge in accordance with Yoga Australia’s Guidelines
  • Acknowledge and teach yoga within the scope of one’s skills, knowledge, and ability.
  • Commit to ongoing professional development in accordance with Yoga Australia’s CPD guidelines.
  • Agree to cooperate fully with any YA enquiry in relation to behaviour and responsibilities as a member.
  • Abide by all YA policies and procedures.

Integrity in Teaching

Yoga professionals will:

  • Act in a manner which honours the profession.
  • Honestly, accurately, and fairly represent the benefits and outcomes of yoga practice.
  • Respect copyright and acknowledge sources when drawing on the work of others.

Business Integrity

Yoga professionals will:

  • Abide by all relevant business and legislative requirements, including, but not limited to, insurance, work cover, pay and conditions, taxation, accounting, marketing, and advertising, and copyright.
  • Ensure all information relating to the benefits of yoga and information used for promotional and marketing purposes is accurate, fair, clearly stated and not misleading in any way.
  • Treat all employees, the community, practitioners, colleagues, and other yoga businesses fairly, transparently, and honestly.
  • Adhere to environmentally friendly and sustainable business practices as much as is reasonable. This includes but is not limited to recycling, using energy efficient products, being energy efficient, reducing waste, saving water, and travelling smarter.

Relationship with Peers

These Codes outline a professional approach to working with yoga and other professionals.

Yoga Australia Professionals will:

  • Speak respectfully of other yoga traditions and health modalities.
  • Interact with other yoga professionals in a respectful manner.
  • Refer to and work cooperatively with other yoga professionals and relevant health practitioners where it is appropriate to meet the needs of the student.
  • Consult and take advice from colleagues and mentors, when appropriate

 

Member Acknowledgement Statement.

Yoga Australia requires registered practitioners to adhere to the following statements:

  • I acknowledge that a yoga teacher has a position of power that must be carefully managed
  • I understand and acknowledge the harms associated with sexually abusive behaviours. This may include and is not limited to non-consensual, coercive sexual contact as well as sexualized comments, unwanted touching, and harassment.
  • I acknowledge that many people who engage with yoga practitioners may be addressing spiritual, cultural and physical wellness needs. This places yoga professionals in a unique position of trust that is potentially open to abuse. In acknowledging this, I commit to ensuring my conduct and practice is sensitive to the emotional, psychological, and physical needs of participants.
  • I have read and agree to abide by the Yoga Australia Statement of Ethics. I commit to behave in an ethical manner, particularly regarding sexual misconduct, as informed by the precept of ahimsa – the commitment to non-violence and compassion. My conduct will always adhere to the highest standards of professional integrity, especially, but not limited to the teacher-student relationship.
  • I have read and agree to abide by the Yoga Australia Code of Professional Conduct

Yoga Australia acknowledges that members of the yoga community in Australia and abroad have historically experienced sexual assault and other forms of abuse, occurring within lineages and institutions of varying kinds, and from individual instructors. The findings on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse can be found in the section called Royal Commission Statements.

Background

Yoga Australia aims to address complaints brought to its attention, as an essential part of maintaining both its own professional integrity and the professional integrity of the yoga-teaching sector. Yoga Australia aims to address complaints using processes that are based on the values of respect, confidentiality, goodwill, and equality.

Who can make an eligible complaint?

Complaints that Yoga Australia is empowered to review may arise between:

  • two or more members of Yoga Australia.
  • a non-member, and a member of Yoga Australia.
  • any person (who is a member or non-member of Yoga Australia), and a person teaching on a teacher training course that is registered with Yoga Australia, or provider of that registered course.
  • a member of Yoga Australia, and a member of the Yoga Australia Board or Yoga Australia staff; or
  • a non-member, and a member of the Yoga Australia Board or Yoga Australia staff.

Grievance Resolution Procedure

Prior to Lodging a Complaint

It is expected that you will follow the steps set out to reasonably attempt to resolve the complaint directly with the other person or persons involved before a formal complaint to Yoga Australia is made.

Read the policies and documents to understand if the behaviour of concern may be a complaint that Yoga Australia is able to investigate:

  • this document (Grievance Resolution Procedure).
  • the Yoga Australia Code of Professional Conduct.
  • the Yoga Australia Statement of Ethics.

Yoga Australia is only able to investigate complaints within the remit of its scope, set out in the above documents. We are not able to mediate or investigate disputes outside of this scope, including disputes that are solely commercial.

Before lodging a complaint, you must:

  • take all reasonable measures to correspond with the respondent in relation to the grievance, detailing the nature of the grievance. An exception to this requirement may apply in the case of an alleged abuse, harassment or harm occasioning the reporting of the incident(s) to the police or other appropriate authority.
  • allow a reasonable time for the respondent to respond to the grievance.
  • make all reasonable efforts to try to understand the respondent’s response, including seeking clarification or further information as required.
  • make all reasonable efforts to resolve the matter directly with the respondent.

If you are the recipient of a complaint, you must:

  • respond in good faith and in a timely manner to any correspondence from a complainant in relation to a grievance.
  • make all reasonable efforts to try to understand the complainant’s grievance, including seeking clarification or further information as required; and
  • make all reasonable efforts to have the matter resolved directly with the complainant, to the satisfaction of both parties.

Lodging a Complaint

In the event you have followed the process set out above and the complaint is not resolved, you may lodge a formal complaint with Yoga Australia in accordance with the following process.

You must lodge your complaint in writing using the downloadable Grievance Form found here. The form must include the following information:

  • the nature of the complaint including the date(s), time, location, people involved and any other relevant information.
  •  the steps taken to resolve the grievance, including whether the complaint has been lodged elsewhere.
  • what you would like the other person or persons to do or not do to address the complaint.
  • what assistance you hope to receive from Yoga Australia.
  • a convenient time and date to discuss the complaint with a Yoga Australia representative; and
  • any other suggestions for ways to resolve the complaint.

You must sign and date the completed form.

Receiving the Complaint

Yoga Australia will provide written acknowledgement to you that we have received the complaint within 14 days of receipt.

Yoga Australia has the discretion not to engage with complaints lodged more than 12 months after the matter has occurred.

To ensure that the process of considering complaints is fair, Yoga Australia reserves the right not to consider or investigate anonymous complaints. If you do not want your identity disclosed to the respondent, please detail the reasons to support anonymity.

Complaints alleging criminal behaviour may be referred to the appropriate authority such as the police.

Your Grievance Form may be forwarded to the Yoga Australia Grievance Committee for consideration.

Yoga Australia may notify the person or persons who are the subject of the complaint, that a complaint has been received so that all parties can participate in resolving the grievance.

Addressing the Complaint: The Role of Yoga Australia

Yoga Australia will assess each Grievance Form on a case-by-case basis to determine the most appropriate and useful role that Yoga Australia can have given the context and nature of that complaint. Yoga Australia may seek independent advice on any matter related to the grievance process.

In some cases, Yoga Australia may decide that it cannot have a useful role in resolving your complaint. In this instance, Yoga Australia will advise you and, where possible, recommend other approaches.

We will make reasonable attempts to resolve your complaint within 28 days after receiving all relevant information requested from both you and the respondent.

Where appropriate, Yoga Australia will actively encourage each person involved in the complaint to communicate directly with each other, preferably in person, but if this is not possible, then by phone or by other remote means.

Unresolved or unsubstantiated complaints

Where the Grievance Committee determines that your complaint does not involve a substantiated breach of the documents set out in clause 2.1 above, we will advise all parties involved at the earliest opportunity of the decision to close the complaint.

Follow Up

The Yoga Australia Board wants to ensure that all grievances are resolved. This follow up is considered an important role of the Board and grievance reporting and follow-up will maintain a permanent place on the agenda of the Yoga Australia Board.

In the cases where the complaint is resolved, the file (hard or soft copy) will be noted by the Grievance Committee. The parties involved in the resolution acknowledge by signature that resolution has been achieved and the grievance procedure is now completed.

A registered Yoga Professional may pursue any activity that falls within the Scope of Practice.

Yoga Professional registration in Australia is currently based on verification of initial and continuing competence through the professional body, Yoga Australia (YA).

Some Yoga Professionals will hold additional qualifications that complement the scope of Yoga Teaching, which will permit such practitioners an extended Scope of Practice, for example being a registered psychologist, physiotherapist, doctor, naturopath etc. Such extended scope is beyond normal Yoga Teaching practice and is to be regulated by the scope and codes of the professional registering body of other such disciplines. The duty of care of a Yoga Professional is to ensure the safety of a practitioner and to refer to a more appropriate therapist or medical practitioner when the practitioner presents with symptoms outside the expertise of the teacher.

A Yoga Professional has qualifications, specialised skills, and knowledge in the application of Yoga.

Yoga Professionals registered by Yoga Australia have an approved yoga teaching qualification and agree to adhere to professional ethics, guidelines and codes relating to the practice of yoga teaching in Australia.

A Yoga Professional is qualified to liaise with other health professionals to:

  • receive and provide referrals from other appropriate healthcare providers
  • act as part of a multi-disciplinary team when necessary
  • engage with medical or allied health professionals (when appropriate) and use best practice wellbeing outcomes.

A Yoga Professional is NOT qualified to:

  • advise about other health treatment modalities other than referring clients to appropriate personnel or services
  • request diagnostic tests or procedures unless suitably qualified
  • interpret raw diagnostic test results
  • prescribe medication, nutritional supplements, or herbs from Western or traditional medical methods such as Chinese medicine or Ayurveda, unless suitably qualified
  • advise about ceasing prescribed medication
  • perform any invasive procedures
  • judge or make recommendations about any other form of advice or treatment from another healthcare professional
  • work with clients presenting with issues outside the teacher’s areas of competence
  • advertise themselves as beyond the scope of yoga teaching unless they hold other qualifications
  • diagnose a medical condition
  • make false or misleading claims about yoga’s therapeutic and healing capacities.

A Yoga Professional is qualified to have an appropriate understanding of health and health systems to:

  • be informed by diagnosis provided by other health professionals qualified to do so
  • have a basic understanding of transference and countertransference.

A Yoga Professional is qualified to work from a yoga educational framework to:

  • work within the scope of a yoga teaching qualification with a variety of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health presentations.
  • offer an integrated set of practices aligned to the needs of the individual and according to yoga models of health such as, but not confined to, the pancamaya kosha (dimensions of the human system) and guna (fundamental forces of nature).
  • include yoga practices such as asana (postures), pranayama (breathwork), relaxation, meditation, mudra (energetic gestures and seals), bandha (energy locks), mantra (sacred sounds), bhavana (imagery), sankalpa (affirmation/intention), yogic lifestyle and nutrition advice according to a yoga framework, education in yoga philosophy, and other practices steeped in the yoga tradition and for which the therapist has received appropriate training, certification and registration.

Yoga Teaching may occur in the following settings:

  • Individualised yoga teaching that occurs in a one-to-one setting.
  • A group yoga class consisting of people with a variety of conditions where modifications will be given and individual requirements determined prior to class entry.

Yoga Australia has been questioned at times on what to do when they have concerns for their own safety or that of a practitioner. Practitioners may make statements to the teacher that indicate they are a threat to themselves or another. Or that someone is a threat to them. This document aims to give an overview on what duty of care is and how it applies to Yoga Professionals, Yoga Therapists and training providers.

What is “duty of care?”

Within different contexts, the statement “duty of care” has different interpretations and is often poorly defined. In workplace health and safety, a duty of care can relate to a duty holder’s obligations to ensure the health and safety of workers, who in turn have obligations to comply and cooperate.

More broadly the term is defined as an obligation to responsible care to avoid injury to a person where it can be reasonably foreseen that they may be injured by an act or omission.

What that means is that in a healthcare environment there is a responsibility for all workers to take reasonable steps to ensure clients or consumers are:

  • Safe
  • Unharmed
  • Protected from abuse
  • Receive a standard of care and treatment that is evidence-based
  • Receive a quality of care and treatment that complies with standards of practice in a healthcare environment.

A duty of care could also be related to legislative requirements, for example, the legal obligation to report concerns such as child safety.

Why?

Consumers have a right to expect that health professionals providing services do so in a competent manner meeting best practice standards. Provisions on competency and best practice are addressed within guidelines such as Codes of Conduct.

Codes articulate the fundamental principles of ethical behaviour expected to be demonstrated. Below those principles, codes provide a set of values that enable us to demonstrate the ethical principles. Both principles and values are equally important.

Standards of conduct or practice help us to understand how we put these principles and values into practice by:

  • providing a basis for the required standard
  • informing professionals of what the required standard is
  • informing the community of the standard
  • providing professionals with a basis for decision making regarding professional misconduct or unprofessional conduct
  • acting to guide professionals in formal or informal resolution of ethical violations.

Application to Yoga

Some health professionals are regulated under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law. Yoga Professionals are considered unregistered health professionals along with other modalities such as aromatherapists, naturopaths and ayurvedic, shiatsu and reiki practitioners.

These unregistered health professionals formulate their own Standards of Practice which are based on ethics and codes of conduct and are held as legal documents.

Yoga Australia has a Code of Professional Conduct based on yogic ethics, that informs yoga practitioners and the community of the level of professional behaviour required of Yoga Australia members.

Take time to familiarise yourself with this document.

Under the ‘Confidentiality’ section of the Yoga Australia Code of Professional Conduct it states, “on issues relating to duty of care, report any concerns they have for the safety and well-being of their student to the relevant emergency support.”

Important things to do:

Keep the below contacts in a convenient place for you. You may offer these contacts to the student or offer to phone for help on their behalf.

www.lifeline.org.au ph: 13 11 14
www. suicidecallbackservice.org.au ph: 1300 65 9467
www.kidshelp.com.au ph: 1800 55 1800
www.mensline.org.au ph: 1300 78 99 78
https://www.whiteribbon.org.au ph: 1800 737 732

For any physical or mental health crisis you may choose to call for an ambulance. If the situation is not an emergency, please know that you can contact the Yoga Australia Office (1300 881 451) and we will assist you on how to proceed with reporting.

Case Study 21 of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found extensive instances of child sexual abuse occurred in an environment which fostered compliance, secrecy and the silence of victim survivors, see here.

The Satyandanda Ashram example illustrates the potential for harm to occur as well as the importance of ethical conduct in the individual realm – in the teacher-student relationship and in the wider culture of yoga schools, ashrams, studios and other environments where yoga practice occurs.

In response to: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Royal Commission CS21 Public Statement Update November 2022

Case Study 21: Satyananda Yoga Ashram Findings and Recommendations

Royal Commission CS21 Public Statement Update October 2019

Evidence of experience, training standards or professional registration is not currently required to conduct a professional yoga business in Australia (and internationally).

This means that anyone can operate a yoga studio and offer teacher training courses.

There are no mandatory requirements for yoga professionals to have:

  • recognition or registration with an approved professional body (such as Yoga Australia)
  • professional and public liability insurance
  • First aid qualifications.

This highlights questions about the standards for yoga professionals and compliance with workplace health and safety regulations. Debate about whether to mandate registration of yoga professionals has been raised with intent to improve the physical, emotional and mental safety of yoga practitioners and professionals and other industry concerns. The situation is complex. There are persuasive arguments for and against compulsory registration:
Arguments for:

  • Elevated yoga professional standards through:
    • Verification of teaching credentials against Yoga Australia’s curriculum standards
    • Defined levels of yoga professionals aligned to experience based on Yoga Australia’s curriculum standards
    • Compliance with current state and national legislation that applies to yoga professionals
    • Yoga Australia’s commitment to the provision of relevant Professional Development opportunities to ensure the professionalism of yoga
  • Networking and collaboration opportunities
  • Exclusive online resources
  • Conferences, seminars, short courses and events at a free or discounted price for members

Arguments against:

  • Additional costs in membership
  • Bureaucratic and time-consuming paperwork
  • Standards that require monitoring
  • Division within the profession between registered and unregistered teachers
  • Prohibitive costs for registration for part time and hobby teachers where minimal income is received (Yoga Australia Member Satisfaction Survey 2017).

Role of Yoga Australia in the discussion
Yoga Australia has analysed mandatory regulation. If introduced, it proposes to improve standards and safety through introducing clear minimum training standards, requiring up-to-date insurance and first aid, ongoing professional development and adherence to professional codes of conduct.

While the Australian Government is not currently driving an agenda of regulation for the yoga industry, state and territory governments hold responsibility for developing, implementing, and monitoring legislation governing the fitness industry.

Options for Yoga Australia to work with the individual state governments to support:

  1. No mandatory registration for yoga professionals.
  2. Mandatory registration for all yoga professionals.
  3. Mandatory registration for yoga therapists only.

At this stage Yoga Australia supports voluntary registration and will continue to monitor the issue.

The Federal Government announced changes to the Health Fund rebates which impacted rebates for yoga and other natural therapies in October 2017. Yoga was removed from all health fund lists from 1st April 2019. Since the announcement in October 2017, Yoga Australia has taken the following actions:

  1. Met with Minister Hunt’s (Minister for Health and Sport) principal advisor, Alex Caroly;
  2. Participated in media interviews and issued a statement to the Media.
  3. Contacted all our yoga friendly health funds to encourage them to continue the rebates for yoga.
  4. Partnered with other Natural Therapies organisations to lobby the government together.
  5. Encouraged our members and yoga professionals to contact their local Members of Parliament to lobby yoga to remain as a health fund rebate; and
  6. Continued to collate relevant research that shows the benefit of yoga. We worked with our local teachers, educations institutions and international partners to collate relevant research. Some of these are currently on our website.

As a result of these actions, yoga is now part of the Federal Government’s $2M review of natural therapies. Information on the Natural Therapies Review 2019-20 can be found on the Department of Health Website. This review will examine additional evidence which has emerged since the 2014-15 review and provide advice to Government on whether any of the natural therapies should be covered by private health insurance and therefore eligible for a subsidy through the Private Health Insurance Rebate.

Our past President, Leanne Davis and Council of Advisor for Yoga Australia is part of the Natural Therapies Review Expert Advisory Panel (NTREAP) as an expert in Yoga, Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture.

The terms of reference of the NTREAP can be found on the Department of Health website. The primary role of the NTREAP is to support the Natural Therapies Review 2019-20 by providing advice to the Australian Government Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, concerning the 16 excluded natural therapies on:

  • Any additional evidence of their effectiveness published since 2014-15 review or high-quality evidence not included in the 2014-15 review to be assessed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC); and
  • The reports on evidence evaluation to be provided by the NHMRC

In addition, Yoga Australia is a stakeholder of the Natural Therapies 2019-20 review. As stakeholders, we are invited to regular meetings with the Department of Health to receive updates on the Natural Therapies 2019-20 review and the outcomes of the NTREAP meetings. These meetings are held using a teleconference facility.

The Natural Therapies Review 2019 – 20 is supported by the NHMRC. The NHMRC has established the Natural Therapies Working Committee to provide oversight of the conduct of the evidence evaluations as part of the review.

Yoga Australia will keep its members informed as things progress with the Natural Therapies Review 2019 – 2020.

Policy Advocacy

Educational Standards

Ethics & Principles

Research