Formation of Indian Yoga Association to create global standards in Yoga education
India Bends Toward Yoga Regulation: The formation of the Indian Yoga
Association signals recognition of the need to create global standards
in yoga education.
After years of consultation with eminent yoga experts, India's
Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddhi and
Homeopathy (AYUSH), along with the Ministry of Health and Family
Welfare, has overseen the establishment of the Indian Yoga Association
(IYA), a self-regulatory body responsible for establishing standards
for accrediting yoga institutions, yoga curriculums and yoga therapy.
This recent development in India signals the first official government
sanctioning of efforts to regulate the tradition of yoga, and it is
appropriate that India, the motherland of yoga, and the Indian
government, which has become increasingly aware of the need to protect
and preserve its cultural heritage, should take this historical
initiative and lay a much needed foundation for establishing a
credible standard of yoga education and practice.
Perhaps more importantly, it is also the first time that
representatives from all the major lineages of yoga across India have
come together in search of a common regulatory goal.
This news, however, may not bode so well with yogis around the world.
Many practitioners and teachers of yoga might wonder just what this
means for yoga, their current status as teachers and institutions, and
their various yoga practices. It may be too early to tell, but the IYA
is already feeling pressure by those who feel that their approach to
yoga may be compromised by any standardization.
As Smt. Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani, Acharya of Ananda Ashram in
Pondicherry, India says; "No one can argue that the wild mushrooming
of Yoga Institutes and Yoga schools and the rapid proliferation of
so-called Yoga Teachers is truly alarming Clearly, some
regularization, standardization, clarification, and accreditation is
the need of the hour."
How to do this will certainly be a challenge. The word `yoga' today
has taken on many new and often strange associations. There is much
debate, even in India, over what this ancient science is all about and
what it holds in store for those who engage in it.
First, and perhaps foremost, will be the task of defining the term
yoga. The measurement of the quality of yoga teachings will also
another hot topic of debate. As Dr. KD Sharma, former director of the
Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy, states: "Those
concerned with ensuring quality yoga education are well aware of the
difficulties of assessing and regulating this subject. [Yoga] is not
physical education and hence, its value cannot be assessed by normal
academic measures. It is an Indian art and science, not a foreign
concept of physical training, and cannot be measured by the foreign
[Western] standards of education."
The board members of the Indian Yoga Association must also grapple
with the relevance of the age-old guru-chela (teacher-student)
relationship, as well as the significance of the paramparai (yoga
lineage) tradition, both of which have always been an integral part of
yoga's foundation but have become increasingly discounted by the
modern approach to yoga and its teaching. So has the relevance of the
very culture from which the teachings of yoga have sprung. These
issues and their significance to the future of yoga are no small
matters to consider.
Anyone who has ever been to India knows that the wheels of Indian
bureaucracy turn slowly. With much at stake, and under the direction
of a group of eminent masters who have dedicated their lives to the
preservation and propagation of this ancient science of life, these
decisions are not likely to come easily, nor quickly.
The Founding Members of the IYA are:
Dr. B.K. S. Iyengar (Pune); Shri. O.P. Tiwari (Kaivalyadhama,
Lonavala); Dr. H.R. Nagendra (VYASA, Banglore); Dr. S.P. Mishra
(Haridwar), Smt. Hansa Jayadev (Yoga Institute, Mumbai); Shri. S.
Shridharan (Krishnamacharya Yoga Institute, Chennai); Smt. Meenakshi
Devi Bhavanani (ICYER, Puducherry); Shri. Shrdhalu Ranade (Aurobindo
Ashram, Puducherry); Dr. Swami Ananta Bharti (Swami Rama Ashram,
Delhi); Dr. K.Krishna Bhat (Manglore University, Manglore); Dr. Ishwar
Bharadwaj (Haridwar); Dr. M.Venkanta Reddy (Hydrabad); Swami
Mangaltirtham (Bihar School of Yoga, Munger); Dr. Swami
Shankaranandaji (Munger); Swami Dharmanand (Delhi); Dr. Anil Singhal
(Himalayan Institute of Yoga, Deheradun)