The move to define National Occupational Standards (NOS) for Yoga Teachers has some great goals, most notably to reduce the risk of physical injury by formally requiring key elements in any teacher training program.
And, with a framework in place, the door is open for yoga teaching to become a recognised vocation. Courses might attract student loans or other assistance with fees. It's quite possible that a whole new section of the population, who previously had no way of getting the money together, may now be able to train as teachers. In a country where help for the poorest is in question, this could be a good thing. It's great for small studios as well.
However, there is no escaping the fact that it's ultimately impossible to standardise yoga - there is no single route to transcendental awareness. It would be ridiculous to sue a guru because a student has not awakened as Buddha consciousness. So the scope of NOS is very important, and it is important to recognise that anyone trained to NOS standards is not necessarily a wholly rounded yoga teacher. In my opinion, it means that this individual is trained to teach an aspect of practice.
And, of course, many professions already have standards but this doesn't necessarily 'guarantee' the quality of work. But, as with most things we experience in our lives, yoga students have a sense of what works and so tend to stick with the people who are reliable and avoid the ones who don't work well.
Whether it is taking your car to the same garage year after year or sticking to the same plumber, electrician, personal trainer - those who practice yoga work with the yoga teachers they personally judge to be the best.
Clear scoping in the NOS and what it means to be NOS-certified for Yoga will really help us work out what we are looking for from a qualification, especially if we are to move into a framework in which yoga as a vocation attracts the same support as any other occupation.
In a best case scenario, the standards will give course guidelines and minimum requirements, and leave room for individual schools and teachers to deliver these with their own unique take on practice - and our thriving yoga scene in the UK will be enriched. But is things do not play out this way there is a significant chance it could be stifled.
That's why it's so important that all those who teach and practice yoga get involved in the ongoing consultation launched by British Yoga Wheel. You can have a say in what happens. We have been promised that we will all be heard, so make sure you give your thoughts and help create a truly inclusive yoga standard where we all can thrive.