Why I left Yoga Alliance

I have made the decision to leave Yoga Alliance as a Registered Yoga School and as a Registered Yoga Teacher. You will no longer be able to find Belinda Thurston or Just B Yoga in their directories after more than 10 years as a member.

This is a move I’ve considered for quite some time.

The pandemic and changes in how we do business have helped me make this choice. It was part financial and part philosophical and part personal.

First, I hope this does not impact my students’ or clients’ desire to work with me. It is certainly something I’ve needed to weigh. I am the same teacher with the same skills and experience level as I was yesterday with a Yoga Alliance membership. I accept and respect anyone’s decision to not have me teach for them if that’s the case.

Secondly, I will continue to offer teacher trainings and workshops. They just will not offer the opportunity to register with Yoga Alliance as a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) at the end. Some yoga studios require it. Some do not. Most gyms and other facilities do not require it. This is your choice.

So why did I do this?

I’ve had an on-again-off-again love affair with Yoga Alliance. I’ve watched it get created and watched it grow. I supported it’s creation because I believed in minimum requirements for a yoga instructor for students to be able to determine the baseline skill level of their instructor. Some instructors had no formal training with an experience teacher. Some were reading a book or a web page and then setting off to teach at local gyms or YMCAs. But, as many experienced yogis protested at that time, it’s nearly impossible to rank teacher quality with another. I know instructors who have spent decades under gurus and their wealth of knowledge and the depth of their personal practice is profound. No amount of letters Yoga Alliance could have assigned would indicate to you what they have to offer or how they can help you on your path to yoga.

I’ve also known plenty of yoga instructors with Yoga Alliance’s 500hr certification who cannot teach at all; their ability to share and connect the philosophies in a meaningful way with the challenges of modern life is shallow. I’ve known RYT 200s who are far more talented and skilled than some 500s. I’ve known MANY who don’t participate in Yoga Alliance who are truly enlightened and gifted.

Having Yoga Alliances RYT and whatever numbers behind them do not indicate the knowledge, experience, perspective or skill of the teacher. It indicates that they have paid for a training program for a certain number of hours (200, 300, 500) that they completed and are paying Yoga Alliance for a decal and the rights to put those letters behind their name.

Ultimately, I decided I don’t need or want to be judged by the letters they assign me (E-RYT 300) because that assignment means nothing to me. It doesn’t indicate the depth of my understanding of asana, anatomy, subtle energy, safety, philosophy, trauma, skill with children, skill with teens, meditation… you get the point.

This doesn’t mean I don’t believe others shouldn’t continue to work with this organization. Please, do what feels best for you.

I will continue to learn and participate in trainings to deepen my understanding and growth. I will continue to practice and share the depth of my practice with anyone who wishes to share with me.

If you’re still considering working with me, get to know me. Talk to me. Talk to others. Come to my classes and experience what I offer and how I offer it, how I give attribution to what I’m teaching or demonstrating. I am not claiming to be anyone’s master or guru. I’m not professing to be better than anyone, goodness no!

But I am standing on my own merit. I have more than 10 years of experience teaching and practicing community-based, outreach yoga and meditation with concentrations on trauma, inclusivity and social justice. I have more years than that teaching and practicing tai chi.

I am a writer, speaker, editor, artist. I am the sum of my parts.

I am Just B.

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