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You got a license for that downward dog?

How much regulation do yoga teachers need?

In the past few years, the Texas Workforce Commission has begun sending letters to programs that train yoga instructors, advising them they must get certified to operate as a career school or college, or request an exemption. Career schools and colleges are regulated under the state’s education code.

Certification costs $1,000 to $3,000, and schools that don’t comply can be closed or penalized $1,000 a day. Exemptions are allowed for training programs that cost less than $500, last fewer than 24 hours or are designed to teach recreational or avocational subjects.

The amount of training required to become a yoga teacher varies, but the Yoga Alliance , a national education and support organization, has 200-hour or 500-hour standards for teachers. Training generally costs at least $3,000.

Jennifer Buergermeister, who owns two yoga studios in Houston and is founder and executive director of the nonprofit Texas Yoga Association , lobbied state Rep. Jim Murphy, R-Houston, to introduce a bill that would exclude from regulation yoga teacher training programs because they don’t meet the state’s definition of a career school or college — institutions that offer postsecondary instruction that leads to a professional academic career or vocational degree.

That change in language through House Bills 1839 and 2167 , now in committee, would exclude schools that train instructors of yoga, Pilates, karate and other recreational activities from the definition if they do not lead to an educational credential.


Murphy said his bill is more about limited government than yoga specifically. Training programs that don’t require a high school degree or lead to certification shouldn’t be regulated by the state, he said.

“If you’re going to be a barber, I want those schools licensed or inspected. But if you’re just doing something for gardeners about how to grow vegetables, you don’t need to be regulated. It’s a hobby versus a career,” he said. “At the end of the day, I don’t think (regulation) produces any better of a product.”

Here are HB1839 and HB2167. I disagree with Rep. Murphy’s last sentence, but I do agree with the general sentiment about regulating careers versus hobbies. And I’d actually go a little farther than Rep. Murphy and suggest that some of the licensing requirements we have for certain careers serve not as guardians of public safety but as barriers to entry, and they ought to be reviewed for efficiency and effectiveness. Licensing overreach is a topic that Matthew Yglesias often writes about, and I think he makes some good points. I’d call these bills a step in the right direction.

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