Enforcement of Ethical Standards and Complaints

Our system of certification and our ethical standards for CIYTs are the twin pillars of Iyengar Yoga in the United States. They are designed to assure that ALL CIYTs adhere to teaching standards of B.K.S. Iyengar and behave in accord with the ethical standards that he established or inspired. These standards define our method and distinguish us from other systems of yoga and of yoga teaching. It is thus necessary that IYNAUS sometimes takes affirmative steps to assure that all CIYTs adhere to these standards.

However, interventions by IYNAUS should be rare and should occur only as a last resort. It is the responsibility of all CIYTs to observe the behavior of their fellow teachers and make constructive suggestions when it appears that a teacher is not adhering to the letter or spirit of our ethical standards. ALL CIYTs should WELCOME these comments and consider them carefully as opportunities for self-study and improvement.


When all other options have been exhausted, the necessary response to perceived ethical violations is the filing of a complaint against the CIYT in question. These complaints shall be filed using the Ethics Complaint Form. Each complaint must set forth factual allegations and information that, if accurate, would establish a violation of one or more of our ethical guidelines. The IYNAUS Ethics Committee investigates and decides each complaint, and it may request additional information from the parties to a complaint as necessary. We emphasize that the filing of a complaint is both the responsibility of every CIYT and the sacred right of every Iyengar Yoga student when they believe violations of our ethical guidelines have occurred. Regardless of whether the complaint is ultimately adjudged to have merit, the filing of the complaint is an important public service. It provides the CIYT with information about how he/she is perceived and with opportunities for self-improvement. A complaint provides the IYNAUS Board with important information about behavior occurring in our community and provides opportunities for it to consider whether modifications should be made to our Ethical rules and guidelines. For these reasons, we have adopted strict policies that prohibit any form of retaliation against any individual for filing a complaint against any CIYT’s.


Our ethics complaints proceedings are confidential, and all parties to each complaint will be required to execute agreements that they will not publicize the filing of the complaint, any of the proceedings on it, the result reached by the IYNAUS Ethics Committee, or any portion of any written decision of the Ethics Committee or IYNAUS Executive Council. It is unethical for a CIYT to publicize any of this information about any complaint.


IYNAUS permits complaints to be filed anonymously: that is, without revealing of the name of the complainant to anyone other than the IYNAUS Ethics Chair and the IYNAUS President. Anonymous complaints will be permitted to proceed – and will be investigated and decided — if the accused CIYT does not need to know the identity of the complainant to defend himself or herself.

The procedure for the filing and investigation of anonymous complaints is as follows. If a complainant desires anonymity, he/she should check the appropriate box for anonymity on our on-line complaint form. After receiving the complaint, the IYNAUS Ethics Committee will decide whether the accused may defend against the complaint without knowing the name of the complainant and whether the complaint otherwise should be permitted to proceed anonymously. If the IYNAUS Ethics Committee determines that it may not be, it will advise the complainant that the complaint may not proceed anonymously. The complainant will then have the option of withdrawing the complaint, with no disclosure of his or her identity. The complainant will also then have the option of having the complaint proceed as a signed complaint.

There may also be situations in which members of the IYNAUS Ethics Committee other than the Chair will need to know the identity of the complainant. In that event as well, the complainant will be so advised, and he/she will have the option of withdrawing the complaint if he/she does not want those individuals to know his/her identity.


In all other complaints, the identity of the complainant will be disclosed to the accused and to all members of the Ethics Committee. Signed complaints are disclosed to the IYNAUS President when filed and information about the complaints may be shared with other members of the IYNAUS Executive Council on a “need to know” basis. Ethics Committee members and any Executive Council members are required to maintain the confidentiality of information relating to complaints.


Our ethical rules prohibit any CIYT from retaliating against any individual for filing a complaint against that CIYT or any other CIYT. We define retaliation as doing or saying anything that adversely affects the reputation of the complainant, the employment of the complainant, or the privileges and relationships of the complainant. If the complainant demonstrates any of these harms are shown, it will be presumed that retaliation occurred, and the CIYT will be required to prove that it did not.


The way a complaint will be investigated and resolved will depend on the nature of the allegations. Whenever possible, the IYNAUS Ethics Committee will seek an informal resolution by talking first with the parties. When there is no dispute about the events and when the complaint raises a question of policy, no factual investigation will be necessary, and steps may be taken to have the IYNAUS Executive Council resolve the policy issue. However, in instances where there are disputed facts, there may be adversarial presentations of evidence or interviews of the parties as appropriate. When a complaint cannot be resolved informally, a written decision may be prepared. Either party may appeal a decision of the Ethics Committee to the IYNAUS Executive Council.


If the IYNAUS Ethics Committee determines that an ethical violation has occurred, the question of the appropriate sanction will be referred to the IYNAUS Executive Council. The ultimate sanction that IYNAUS may impose is revocation or suspension of a CIYT’s membership in good standing in IYNAUS, which will now have the consequence of revoking or suspending the CIYT’s right to use the Iyengar Yoga name. During periods of suspension, the CIYT will be required to continue paying dues to IYNAUS. There is a broad array of lesser sanctions that will be considered, and the precise sanction will depend on the nature of the violation and whether the accused knew or should have known that the conduct is unethical. In situations where the accused reasonably believed that their conduct did not violate our ethical guidelines, there may be situations in which there will be no sanction or where the sanction will be self-study or study with a more senior teacher.