You are here

The 'Empty Circle' of X-00 Hours Certifications

Submitted by YP on 17 December 2018 - 12:10pm

'X-00 Hours' certifications, where do they lead?
Image credit: 'Door Henge' by Stanley Sephton1

Since the start of the boom around the 1990s, the training franchises that seem to have made the most have just got better at marketing '50/150/200/300/350/500 hour' (entry level) credentials, it's as if they are an international, 'defacto' standard.

This magic spell seems to be targeted quite cynically at the already 'overstreched middle' in society, anyone in fact that has been nurturing a vaguely romantic impulse to achieve health, wealth and happiness simply by logging a hundred or so hours of loosely supervised yoga practice.

However, increased awareness of cultural appropriation and persistent failure to provide straightforward career progression has taken some of the initial shine off these programs. As new market entrants offer cheaper and faster routes to credentials, yoga tutor certification was never going to be about raising standards or protecting the public, but 'a race to the bottom' to offer the easiest courses to pass.

There is so much misinformation and so many over-inflated promises about the actual working conditions for an entry-level yoga tutor recruit, the real difficulties in recouping the costs of the training are camouflaged.

Even the most conscientious practitioners are being encouraged to teach based on credentials that may increase the risk of personal injury and not help them get work as tutors or keep students.

It's hard to walk away from a course of training if it wasn't what was expected, because of the way payments and learning modules are designed. There is often a rapid escalation of personal commitment in the shape of non-refundable upfront payments, lack of academic oversight and accountability, very little flexibility and patchy grievance procedures. Unlike established qualification framework, transferring to another provider even after achieving a full credit is generally not something that providers tend to feel obliged to offer learners. Providers are often positioned to compete with each other for memberships, so it is a niche, open and opportunistic market, wildly innovative (possibly to a fault),  inherently rivalrous and so most do not cooperate with each other.

Graduation is incredibly unpredictable, some franchises expect members to become fitness fanatics and run a class like it's a keep-fit work out, while others insist it's all about reproducing breathing or other meditation techniques accurately which can be impossible for some to prepare for.

Avoiding the spiralling poverty of working as a yoga tutor often means being placed on a pedestal, but higher proile practitioners, (the 'big names') attract more attention (and criticism) so even a person with a lot of charisma and an awe-inspiring reputation with students that love them, if people start to feel unwelcome, at risk or despondent about a profitable business, the empire can collapse at anything other than the microentity scale of enterprise.

Credentials seem to mean very little to paying clients, and there is no evidence that being credentialled brings in any extra work or does anything to protect the public from harm either. The yoga tutor training model actually borrows a great deal of intangible cultural heritage from India only to install well-intentioned people into an informal and precarious position as gatekeepers to the global sports and recreation industry.

Tutor training networks can be very tight-knit and policy development tends to be secretive. What typifies the yoga tutor experience are poor working conditions with no proper union representation. Even if new recruits are prepared to devote time to developing their own social networks, (which involves a lot of self-promotion among family and friends, setting up social media, volunteering at events and on committees and so forth), a clear career progression is still unlikely to materialize.

Every training franchise has its own unique characteristics and will offer some experience and knowledge gains along the way, but a bachelors degree in education or the arts and sciences is probably still the most effective way of progressing your career as a yoga tutor for a number of reasons.

Our advice is to look beyond the 'empty circle' of proprietary certification and spend some time thinking about the qualities you want to see for yourself, rather than settling for whatever course a provider wants to sell you.