Annual reports and Financial Statements

Advocacy for the Australian yoga industry

The AGM of Yoga Australia was held in November, and something important to note for all our members is the list of projects we have been working on, along with our direction for the year ahead. Here’s a summary for your enjoyment – feel free to reach out to us if you have any comments.

We have redeveloped the curriculum to more consistent and of a higher standard, in line with international best practice, based on competencies and outputs. This is a comprehensive package of competencies, content, Learning and Teaching Activities, and assessments. We want to properly certify people while remaining flexible enough to recognise specialist skills and experience.

We want to adjust the membership structure to more clearly allow for methods other than physical hatha yoga. We should have a place for bhakti yoga and meditation teachers, along with a deeper look at specialities like yin and chair yoga. And we certainly intend to be more active in the Yoga Therapy space.

We will use social media to elevate public discourse. There’s a tendency to use these platforms exclusively as promotional tools, and after a while it becomes white noise, or at worst it can undercut all the incredible work we are doing by presenting a superficial image or appealing to the lowest common denominator.

We may need to ask people to pay a little more, our fees have not changed in many years. We are looking at simplifying the price structure, maybe we won’t charge extra for things like Yoga Therapy, maybe we will leave off the joining fee.

Always we keep front of mind the title of our strategic plan: Quality yoga for all Australians.

We want to communicate to the public what yoga really is, what is the yogic lifestyle, what you give and what you receive. This is important information for everyone who stumbles across our website or other material.

We want to increase the ease of registration for members and courses – consistent feedback we receive claims that the tone of our messaging seems stern or difficult, there are many anecdotes of people visiting, trying to join us or register a course, and giving up. We can assert our commitment to the highest standards of education and behaviour without presenting a barrier to participation. Much of this comes down to the functionality of the website itself – which we are redeveloping. The current system has outgrown its usefulness.

We want to cater to simple enthusiasts too! We know that many people who undertake a yoga teacher course have no interest in becoming a teacher. They just love yoga and want to learn more, and often a locally run TT course is the only compelling option they’ve found. Let’s give these people what they want, let’s progress the study of mudra, yoga nidra, pranayama, and the other aspects of the eight limbs that are de-emphasised in a typical TT. We can do this by tapping into our senior members on the shoulder and inviting them to provide course content each year, as an alternative to CPD.

We can help yoga enthusiasts collect points towards an eventual teacher qualification, should they ever decide that they do want to teach. What a great outcome that would be! Such a humble, organic, and traditional path.

We want to embrace new teachers who have done introductory 200-hour certificates. We have always allowed them to join, but our tone can be confronting or obstinate – that’s the feedback we’ve consistently received from people who felt the calling to be part of the national body for the profession. We need be available when new graduates inevitably realise that 200 hours is not enough. Yoga Australia is ready to accept you at any stage of your journey as a student and as a teacher.

The industry needs to be energised in a way that highlights the real values of yoga. It is easy to become jaded with the industry as you see teaching standards fall away, the sexualisation of social media content, the commodification of traditions. It is absolutely possible to retain and increase standards while welcoming all-comers. The outcome we all desire is happy students, happy teachers, all with an understanding that the journey is long, continuous, and well-supported.

 

We must help businesses emerging from the pandemic. In many ways this year has been the toughest, without subsidies and with a long grind of a milder form of Covid that has kept people out of cafes and studios for fear of missing their rescheduled holidays. The people of Melbourne in particular has an experience that was isolating, not only in the moment, but even now as they recover in a country where most people had a milder situation.

Beyond this recovery period, we have been asked to help teachers build a career pathway. There is very little yoga work advertised on job portals/websites. Along with this, it seems like everyone is a contractor. When teachers are in it for the long haul, willing to train and retrain, to demonstrate their commitment, we will serve them with advocacy and assistance.

It can be frustrating when clinical psychologists talk about the benefits of teaching their clients to regulate themselves with the breath and body, something that yoga has been advocating since time immemorial. There is such a volume of potential work for yoga teachers and yoga therapists but we need to be sitting at the right tables to be heard. We want to show leadership and alter the perception and expectations of what we do.

Let’s build relationships with other associations, other lineages, and other modalities. This again speaks to the need for a membership structure that allows for activities other than hatha yoga. Let’s invite very senior expert teachers from the world of yoga (Australian and abroad) to provide short courses on various topics. We could invite experts in tangential modalities. This is already the essence of our CPD program, but we intend to have a more comprehensive approach rather than leaving it up to members to seek out courses.

Let us increase the sectors of community who are catered for by yoga. We should be a champion for those who have been left behind by the popularised styles. People with disabilities – hidden or visible. But you don’t have to have a disability to feel excluded from yoga. There are many stigmas, many subtle barriers to entry. It might be something physical, maybe around excessive “new age” content, trauma in varying degrees. We are well positioned to make positive change.

Let’s use our position to bring yoga back into the private health rebate scheme. If it’s going to happen, it will be us that does it. We are the ones who will elevate yoga and yoga therapy in the eyes of government and health landscape. Similarly, we must advocate for a more complete acceptance of yoga in NDIS. People are relying on us.

The last couple of years has been a huge reshuffle of our organisation and the world, and behind the scene we have been consolidating.

Now we are nimble, we’ve let go of our office space, reduced staff a little, and invested in a new member management system and website.

It’s exciting and we glad to have you on board!

With warm regards,

Josh Pryor
President, Yoga Australia
josh@yogaaustralia.org.au