At Rishikesh, yoga is synonymous with Yoga Alliance – The Hindu

A foreigner performs yoga at Rishikesh Yog Peeth in Rishikesh. Photo: Virender Negi
After the company he worked for in Australia went bankrupt, David Dalrymple woke up one morning and decided to visit India.
“I had wanted it for so long. And when I was jobless, I knew this was the right time to visit India,” Dalrymple said.
Just three days before the world would celebrate International Day of Yoga, Dalrymple completed a 200-hour teacher training course at the Rishikesh Yog Peeth – a yoga school registered under the U.S.-based Yoga Alliance.
To celebrate the occasion, Dalrymple and other students from Britain, U.S. and Australia, whom he had befriended during the course, gathered at the “Beatles ashram” – the name the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram got after the iconic British Band’s 1968 visit.
While they practiced the asanas in an ashram hall, which is now in decrepit state, the need to learn more about the ancient Indian spiritual practice of yoga was evident from their imperfect postures.
On a sweltering June afternoon Dalrymple and his friends were amongst the thousands of yoga enthusiasts that flocked the holy town of Rishikesh – the unofficial yoga capital of the world – to become certified yoga teachers.
Among the ashrams and yoga centres in Rishikesh are 47 centres that are registered with Yoga Alliance.
Set up in the U.S. 20 years ago, Yoga Alliance is the largest non-profit organisation in the world with over 70,500 yoga teachers and more than 4,500 yoga schools across the globe.
A registration with Yoga Alliance, therefore, means authenticity and it finally boils down to business for the Rishikesh centres. A typical 200-hour course, based on Yoga Alliance standards, could be crunched between four weeks or six weeks and costs USD 1400 to USD 1700.
“It is ironic,” Sadhvi Bhagwati Sarawati said. As an American, who has been associated with the Rishikesh-based Parmarth Niketan for almost 20 years now, she said, “There is an inexplicable link between India and yoga. Yoga comes from India. But here is a U.S.-based organisation that made it into a huge business just because no one was paying attention.”
Aneeshkrishna Bisht, who is amongst the many that want to open a yoga school in Rishikesh, has, for over a year now, been on the task of getting his institute registered with Yoga Alliance.
Oliver Broughton, also from Australia, who was in Rishikesh for a 200-hour course, said, “It is absurd that Yoga centres in India – the birth place of yoga — are also dependent on certifications from a Western agency.”
Harish Nautiyal, owner of the Rishikesh Yog Peeth, said, “We pay Yoga Alliance an annual fee to get our registration renewed.”
However, after nine years of giving out teacher training certificates, Nautiyal admits that it’s only a few who actually learn enough to return to their country and teach Yoga.
Vikas Badoni of the Rishikesh-based Akshi Yogshala, which is also registered under Yoga Alliance said, “All foreigners ask for a Yoga Alliance certification, so we are forced to get the registration, or we won’t get any business.”
The yoga centres are “all money making entities”. And in the competition to provide the best yoga learning experience, Badoni said, “the real thing is lost”.
Indian Yoga Association
With around 32 million yoga practitioners, the U.S. alone contributes close to USD 30 billion to the global yoga market of USD 80 billion.
Foreigners, when they come to Rishikesh to get to the roots of yoga, go to places like Parmarth Niketan that provides a certificate of participation, or to yoga centres that are registered with Yoga Alliance.
The Central government has the Indian Yoga Association (IYA) to maintain India’s yoga traditions alive, but the IYA is currently in its nascent stage, President of Parmarth Niketan Swami Chidanand Saraswati said.
As a “self-regulatory body of eminent yoga institutions”, the IYA has amongst its purposes, providing “accreditation and affiliation of Yoga Institutions” and its certificate would be globally recognised.
Sadhvi Bhagwati said, “With all kinds of Yoga being invented in the West, people have lost the grounding, which is why the IYA is important.”
Though in its nascent stage, the IYA certification could be India’s answer to Yoga Alliance, but with a harder grip on yoga and not the glamour.

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Printable version | Oct 1, 2022 12:57:46 am |


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