Ethical Standards and Considerations

The Board of Directors of the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States (IYNAUS) has provided these ethical standards for all Certified Iyengar Yoga Teachers (CIYTs). All CIYTs must read and be familiar with the standards, which are applicable to all CIYTs who are members of IYNAUS. The standards 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 standards is intended to assist teachers and does not create any liability on the part of IYNAUS.

These ethical standards were originally developed by B.K.S. Iyengar and have been supplemented and clarified from time to time by IYNAUS. They are the code of ethics by which all have agreed to live. We ask that these guidelines not be reprinted without acknowledging B.K.S. Iyengar and IYNAUS. Please contact the IYNAUS Ethics Chair (ethics@iynaus.org) for questions regarding these standards.

Ethical Standards
  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. Do not establish intimate relationships when a student-teacher relationship exists. (Ahimsa, non-violence, and Aparigraha, non-coveting)
    6. Recognize when the student-teacher relationship has been compromised by the existence of an intimate relationship or desire 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 and Additional Standards
    1. These standards 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 CIYT to publicize an ethics complaint before it is filed and for any CIYT to publicize the filing of a complaint, any of the proceedings on the complaint, the result reached by the IYNAUS Ethics Committee, any portion of the written decision of the IYNAUS Ethics Committee on the complaint, or any sanctions that are imposed.
    6. It is unethical for any CIYT to retaliate against any individual for filing an ethics complaint.
Ethical Considerations and Guidelines

In addition to the ethical standards 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, the role of the teacher is to arouse an enthusiastic interest in yoga and a dedication in the student to develop a deep and personal practice of yoga. 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, and believe that the role of a teacher of the subject of yoga has given them personal power or personal merit. CIYTs need to be aware of this risk and develop discrimination.

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, IYNAUS has an Ethics Committee to uphold the standards of conduct set forth above.

Sexual Harassment

Our ethical standards prohibit sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is not gender specific. Harassers and their recipients may be of the opposite gender or of the same gender.

Sexual harassment includes but is not limited to any unsolicited and unwelcome sexual advances, including requests for sexual favors, sexual touching, and verbal, visual, or physical conduct that creates a sexually hostile environment. It is sexual harassment if a CIYT engages in conduct that has the purpose or effect of requiring a student or teacher to submit to such conduct as a term or condition of obtaining any benefit or privilege relating to the study or teaching of Iyengar Yoga. Conduct that creates a sexual hostile environment in a classroom or yoga studio includes sexual conversations, graphic verbal or degrading comments about sexual body parts, and displaying sexually graphic pictures or cartoons in a classroom, studio, or associated website or social media site. All current and future CIYTs are required to review annually our Ethical Guidelines To Prevent Verbal Abuse, Sexual Harassment and Physical Abuses.