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 goverrment 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.
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 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.
Founding members of I.Y.A. are : B.K.S. IYENGAR (President) from Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute, Sri O.P. TIWARI ( Secretary) from Kaivalyadhama Institute Lonavla, Dr H.R. NAGENDRA (Vice-Président) from Sw Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhan Sanathan VYASA Bangalore, Dr S.P MISHRA (Vice-Président) from Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyalaya Haridwar, SMT Hansa Jayadev YOGENDRA from Yoga Institute Mumbai, Shri. S. SRIDHARAN from Krishnamacharya Yoga Institute Chennai, Smt. Meenakshi Devi BHAVANANI from ICYER Puducherry, Shri. Shrdhalu RANADE from Aurobindo Ashram Puducherry, Dr. Swami Ananta BHARTI from Swami Rama Ashram Delhi, Dr. K.Krishna BHAT from Dep HC et Yoga Science University Manglore, Dr. Ishwar BHARDWAJ from Dep de H.C. and Yoga Science Gurukul Kangri Haridwar, Dr. M.Venkanta REDDY from Hydrabad, Swami MANGALTIRTHAM from Bihar School of Yoga Munger, Dr. Swami SHANKARANADAJI from Munger, Swami DHARMANAND from Adyatma Sadhana Kendra Delhi, Dr. Anil SINGHAL from Himalayan Institute of Yoga Deheradun, Swami Veda BHARATI from HIHT University, Dr Ishwr V. BASAVARADDI from Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, Padamsri Bharat BHUSHAN from Mokshayatan Yogashram.