Ethical Guidelines

The Board of Directors of the B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States (IYNAUS) has provided these ethical guidelines for all Certified Iyengar Yoga Teachers (CIYTs). All CIYTs must read and be familiar with the guidelines, which are applicable to all yoga teachers who are members of IYNAUS. The guidelines correspond to the yamas and niyamas of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which are rules of conduct for all students of yoga. The yamas and niyamas and their English translation are included in parentheses where appropriate.

The promulgation of these guidelines is intended to assist teachers, and does not create any liability on the part of IYNAUS.

These ethical guidelines have been developed by B. K. S. Iyengar and are the code of ethics by which all Certified Iyengar Yoga Teachers have agreed to live. We ask that these guidelines not be reprinted without acknowledging B.K.S. Iyengar and IYNAUS, the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States. Please contact the IYNAUS Ethics Chair (ethics@iynaus.org) for questions regarding these guidelines.

© B.K.S. Iyengar and IYNAUS, the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States.

Ethical Guidelines
  1. Professional Ethics of Certified Iyengar Yoga Teachers (CIYTs)
    1. CIYTs dedicate themselves to studying, teaching, disseminating, and promoting the art, science and philosophy of yoga according to the teachings and philosophy of B.K.S. Iyengar, and to maintaining high standards of professional competence and integrity. (Tapas, ardor)
    2. CIYTs study and stay current with the teaching and practice of yoga as taught by B.K.S. Iyengar and the Iyengar family. This can be done directly by study with the Iyengar family or indirectly by participation in IYNAUS activities and study with CIYTs of at least one higher level of certification. (Svadhyaya, study of the self)
    3. CIYTs accurately represent their education, training, and experience. (Satya, truthfulness)
    4. CIYTs only teach in accord with their levels of certification and do not mix the techniques of Iyengar Yoga with any other systems of yoga, or with any other discipline. (Aparigraha, non-coveting)
    5. CIYTs are not publicly critical of other Iyengar Yoga teachers’ character or of other systems of yoga. (Ahimsa, non-violence)
    6. CIYTs do not use any “figure and temple” service mark registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in the name of B.K.S. Iyengar unless they have been approved to do so by, and have paid the required fee to, the service mark committee of IYNAUS. (Asteya, non-stealing)
  2. Responsibility to Students and Community
    CIYTs:
    1. Are truthful. (Satya, truthfulness)
    2. Welcome all students regardless of race, gender, religion, national origin, sexual preference, or physical disability (skill level of teacher permitting). (Ahimsa, non-violence)
    3. Neither speak nor act abusively toward others. (Ahimsa, non-violence)
    4. Do not sexually harass students. (Ahimsa, non-violence, and Bramacharya, continence)
    5. Avoid intimate relationships with their students. (Ahimsa, non-violence, and Aparigraha, non-coveting)
    6. Recognize when the student-teacher relationship has been compromised by the existence of an intimate relationship and assist the student in finding another CIYT if possible. (Aparigraha, non-coveting)
  3. Personal Responsibility
    CIYTs:
    1. Maintain a clean and well-groomed appearance. (Sauca, purity)
    2. Dress in a modest manner while teaching yoga. (Sauca, purity, and Bramacharya, continence)
    3. Avoid abuse of drugs and alcohol. (Sauca, purity)
    4. Avoid use of foul language. (Sauca, purity)
  4. Applicability of IYNAUS Guidelines
    1. These guidelines are not exhaustive. Their failure to address any particular conduct does not mean that the conduct is necessarily ethical or unethical. CIYTs are expected to adhere to and honor classical and legal codes of conduct, including the yogic discipline of yama and niyama.
    2. Lack of familiarity with, or misinterpretation of, these ethical guidelines does not justify unethical conduct.
    3. Failure to cooperate in an ethics investigation or proceeding by the IYNAUS ethics committee is a violation of these guidelines.
    4. A CIYT who is uncertain of how these ethical guidelines are to be applied in a particular situation should contact the IYNAUS ethics committee for guidance before acting.
    5. It is a violation of these guidelines for any CITY to publicize an ethics complaint before it is filed and for any CITY to publicize the filing of a complaint, any of the proceedings on the complaint, the result reached by the ethics committee, any portion of the written decision of the Ethics Committee on the complaint, or any sanctions that are imposed. It is unethical for any CIYT to retaliate against any individual for filing a complaint.
Further Ethical Considerations

In addition to the ethical guidelines given above, certain broader considerations which are essential to maintaining the integrity and vitality of the teaching of B.K.S. Iyengar are given here to serve as a guide to teachers.

First, it is most important that all teachers of Iyengar Yoga keep in mind that what unites us as a community is an allegiance to a magnificent body of knowledge. Within this community, B.K.S. Iyengar has a special and unique status as the originator and developer of this body of knowledge. He is called “Guruji” by his students as an acknowledgement of this status, which can be his alone within this community.

Second, it is in the nature of any teaching that students are receptive to the teacher. Automatically, a certain power is invested in the teacher. Moreover, it is an appropriate role of a teacher to seek to arouse enthusiasm for the subject in the students—to draw them in, as it were. In the case of a yoga teacher, because the subject is a highly personal one, the teacher may appear to have exceptional personal powers. In this situation, teachers can very easily become proud or confused, mistaking the powers vested in them by the teaching situation and by the subject of yoga for personal powers or personal merits. CIYTs need to develop a fine discrimination in this regard.

Third, CIYTs must always bear in mind that their role is to transmit knowledge and understanding. It is the teacher’s responsibility to refuse an inappropriate relationship with a student.

Finally, the ethical conduct of the teacher inside and outside the classroom is a model for the conduct of the students and that power must be used constructively. In addition, the conduct of any CIYT reflects on the whole community. Becoming a teacher of Iyengar Yoga thus involves a broad ethical responsibility. All of us have personal weaknesses. Hence, each national association of teachers of Iyengar Yoga, as well as the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute, has an ethics committee to uphold the standards of conduct set forth above.

Suspension

A CIYT who has violated the ethics agreement may be denied the right to use the Certification Mark for a given period. During this term of suspension, the teacher is expected to pay IYNAUS dues, including subscription to Yoga Rahasya but not including Certification Mark fees. During the period of suspension of Certification Mark privileges, the teacher may not use the name of B.K.S. Iyengar in support of his or her teaching qualifications.

Investigative Decisions
September 21, 2018 Ethics Case of Allan Nett-E.Ekong
September 13-18, 2018 Reference Notes and Report on MM-AW case
Ethics Complaint Form

Submit a complaint


IYNAUS Anti-Harassment & Non-Retaliation Policy Statement

Members of IYNAUS and students of Iyengar Yoga shall not be subjected to any form of harassment, including sexual harassment, intimidation, threats, coercion, or discrimination because they have filed or may file a complaint; assist or participate in an investigation, Ethics Committee review, or hearing; or otherwise seek to obtain recourse from such behavior. IYNAUS invites any IYNAUS members to review the IYNAUS Code of Ethics located above.

Harassment-Free Workplace

IYNAUS is committed to an environment free from discrimination and harassment, or any form of abusive conduct and strictly prohibits actions that are contrary to this commitment. IYNAUS has zero tolerance for discrimination and harassment by CIYTs and takes affirmative steps to prevent, address, and end such behavior.

Reporting Concerns

Members of IYNAUS share IYNAUS’s responsibility to prevent discrimination and promote a harassment-free environment for Iyengar students and CIYTs. If you believe you have experienced discrimination, intimidation /harassment, retaliation or sexual harassment or have knowledge of such behavior you are encouraged to inform a member of the IYNAUS Ethics Committee. IYNAUS provides multiple ways to bring forth your concerns. You can report concerns or questions by contacting any member of the Ethics Committee, the IYNAUS President or an IYNAUS Officer. Your concerns will be treated confidentially to the fullest extent possible. IYNAUS will take action to inquire, investigate, and resolve the issue. IYNAUS will not tolerate any acts of retaliation against those who, in good faith, ask questions or raise concerns about behaviors they perceive to be discriminatory or harassing. IYNAUS will not tolerate any acts of retaliation against anyone who participates in an Ethics Committee-directed investigation. If you believe you have experienced retaliation, you should immediately discuss your concerns with the Ethics Committee or the IYNAUS President.


Sexual Harassment Policy

IYNAUS is committed to a safe and secure environment for Iyengar practitioners and Certified Iyengar Yoga Teachers (CIYT). Acts of sexual harassment, harassment, or discrimination will not be tolerated. Interactions among individuals who teach students in our Iyengar tradition are expected to be professional, respectful, and appropriate. IYNAUS takes the necessary actions to train CIYTs to be aware of and prevent sexual harassment, harassment, or discrimination. IYNAUS provides multiple ways for members to express concerns or make a formal complaint based on what they believe to be discrimination or sexual harassment. If an incident of alleged misconduct on the part of IYNAUS members or persons within IYNAUS’s control is reported or suspected, IYNAUS will take immediate and appropriate action to investigate, report, and sanction such misconduct.

IYNAUS prohibits any retaliation against members who bring forth a legitimate problem, concern, or formal claim they believe to be valid. Members who raise concerns they know are unfounded or false, as discovered through the Ethics Committee investigation efforts, will be subject to corrective action up to and including denying continued use of the Iyengar Trademark.

Guidelines

Sexual harassment is not gender specific. Harassers and their recipients may be of the opposite gender or of the same gender. For purposes of this policy, gender and sex are interchangeable terms related to being male or female. Sexual harassment is prohibited by IYNAUS. IYNAUS takes all incidents seriously and acts promptly to initiate an investigation process and reach resolution. Members who believe they have experienced discrimination, harassment, or sexual harassment, or have observed others who they believe may have been treated in violation of this policy should promptly inform the Ethics Committee or the IYNAUS President. Members may self-identify or remain anonymous; however, anonymity may limit the Ethics Committee investigation process.

Confidentiality will be maintained to the fullest extent possible. IYNAUS expects members to participate as requested in its investigation efforts. Appropriate resolution depends on individuals’ cooperation and professional demeanor during and after IYNAUS Ethics Committee investigation efforts.

Definition of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment includes but is not limited to any unsolicited and unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that occurs in any of the following circumstances:

  • Submission to such conduct is made either expressly or by implication as a term or condition of continued participation in a classroom, workshop, certification recommendations, mentoring or any other favorable influence related to the study of Iyengar Yoga.
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for denying favorable position, stature, certification, or reputational standing in the Iyengar community affecting that individual.
  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect to unreasonably interfere with an individual’s work performance, create a hostile environment in the classroom / workshop / teacher training, threaten, or otherwise offend or adversely affect an individual’s practice of Iyengar yoga, evaluation or assessment for teacher certification, assigned duties, or any other condition of continued Iyengar studies, certification, or teaching, development and/or the individual’s quality of Iyengar practice as a student or teacher.

Examples of sexual harassment include but are not limited to unwelcome sexual flirtations or sexual propositions, unwelcome touching, sexually inappropriate conversations, graphic verbal comments about body parts, sexually degrading descriptions, suggestive objects or pictures, posters, jokes, cartoons, calendar illustrations displayed in the classroom or teacher location, the display of inappropriate Internet websites, and other computer-displayed material.

CIYT Responsibilities

CIYTs are responsible to maintain a class room environment that is professional; respectful; free from discrimination, harassment, or sexual harassment; and compliant with IYNAUS’ Code of Ethics and related policies. CIYTs must demonstrate appropriate professional behavior and be available to individuals to discuss their concerns, answer questions, or receive a complaint related to inappropriate behavior toward them or that they have observed as a third party. CIYTs are also expected to observe and manage the classroom environment to ensure that students are aware of IYNAUS’ Code of Ethics and related policies against sexual harassment and any other form of harassment or discrimination. CIYTs must take prompt and timely action to correct any matter that contradicts the IYNAUS Code of Ethics and related policies; counsel students or other CIYTs in their employ about IYNAUS expectations and policies; and report any allegations of discrimination or harassment to a member of the Ethics Committee, or the IYNAUS President. IYNAUS provides CIYTs with training on the awareness, prevention, and remedies related to harassment and sexual harassment. CIYTs are required to take training and certify they have completed the required training.

IYNAUS Member Student (non-CIYTs) Responsibilities

Member students are also expected to demonstrate professional and appropriate behavior in the classroom. IYNAUS provides member students with training as an optional Iyengar training on the awareness, prevention, and remedies related to harassment and sexual harassment. Member Students seeking Iyengar certification are required to take training and certify they have completed the required training.

Member Students seeking certification must avoid conduct that are or may be perceived as discrimination, harassment, or sexual harassment. Members Students should know and understand information relevant to discrimination, harassment, or sexual harassment and how to avoid and prevent such behavior in the classroom. Member Students who have questions, even after review of IYNAUS’ Code of Ethics and related policies and/or participation in Iyengar training, should seek answers from their mentors and CIYTs, the Ethics Committee or IYNAUS President. Expectations include but are not limited to:

  • Demonstrate professional behavior appropriate in the classroom.
  • Use appropriate, culturally acceptable behavior for physical contact. When unsure of the culturally acceptable behavior, refrain from any physical contact.
  • Discourage inappropriate behavior when observing colleagues or other individuals in the classroom. Do not participate in such behavior.
  • Participate in IYNAUS training to raise awareness and prohibit discrimination, harassment, or sexual harassment.
  • Report conduct prohibited by the IYNAUS Ethical Code of Ethics and related policies on discrimination, harassment, and sexual harassment to the Ethics Committee, an IYNAUS Officer or the IYNAUS President.
Investigation and Resolution

IYNAUS will perform an investigation to address concerns or formal complaints related to discrimination, harassment, and sexual harassment. During the investigation process it may be prudent to suspend or recommend more serious sanctions to prevent continued behavior or conduct of the person under investigation. The IYNAUS Ethics Committee actions will be as minimally disruptive as is practical and will involve parties on a need-to-know basis. Confidentiality will be maintained to the fullest extent possible.

Based on the results of the investigation, the Ethics Committee will identify the appropriate corrective action to stop and eliminate the offending behavior and to restore comfort and confidence that may have eroded with the goal of a productive and professional classroom and teacher training environment.

Sanctions

Violations of this policy may lead to corrective action up to and including suspension or discontinued use of the Iyengar Trademark.