What are the requirements for the use of the Iyengar name and/or trademark?
Certified Iyengar Yoga Teachers (CIYTs) may 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 and have paid the required fee to the Trademark Committee of IYNAUS. (Asteya, non-stealing)
Every year, the IYNAUS Ethics Committee receives numerous emails about websites or studios where the Iyengar name is being misused.
Trademark complaints can usually be handled by a simple letter from the regional association. Often there is immediate compliance as the party was unaware of the trademark laws.
Requirements for the business use of the Iyengar name are as follows:
- The business owner must be a member of IYNAUS and a CIYT and agree that only CIYTs in good standing are permitted to teach at the facility. Only Iyengar Yoga may be taught at the premises.
- The business owner must submit a request form with a picture and have it signed/approved by an IYNAUS board member, the regional association president, or the most senior CIYT in the business region.
- If these conditions change, the Iyengar name may no longer be used.
The application form to use the Iyengar name can be found on the IYNAUS member page under MY PAGE.
What constitutes "mixing methods"?
CIYTs only teach in accordance with their certification levels and do not mix Iyengar Yoga methods with any other systems of yoga or any other discipline. (Aparigraha, non-coveting)
Any "add on" to a class description is mixing methods. Abhijata Iyengar has said that if you add another description to a class you are teaching, then it is not Iyengar Yoga, and you should not do it. For example, if you call your class Yoga with Reiki, or Yoga with Essential Oils, or Yoga with Goats, these are not Iyengar Yoga classes and should not be taught. A pretty simple test!
Another example of mixing methods would be if a CIYT "team-taught" one of these "add on" classes with a non-Iyengar instructor.
A CIYT also may not participate in eclectic teacher training except to teach a general asana class/workshop. This asana class must be open to the public as well as to the teacher trainees. The trainees must be informed that they cannot say they have received Iyengar Yoga teacher training.
What constitutes teaching beyond certification level?
CIYTs only teach in accordance with their levels of certification and do not mix the techniques of Iyengar Yoga with any other systems of yoga or any other discipline. (Aparigraha, non-coveting)
Complaints of teaching beyond certification level usually involves a CIYT conducting or teaching part of a teacher training program when they are not certified at the appropriate level. The IYNAUS Ethics Committee will do a follow-up every six months to make sure the teacher training activity has not resumed. If a teacher does not comply, the matter will be sent to the IYNAUS Executive Council.
A Level 3 teacher who has held their certification for more than two years may conduct trainings. However, Level 1 or Level 2 teachers cannot conduct or teach at teacher training program.
When is a physical adjustment unethical?
Physical adjustments are a critical feature of Iyengar Yoga teaching. Whether they are made with a prop or through hands-on adjustment, physical adjustments teach correct actions and can prevent and address injuries.
To implement ethical prohibitions against sexual harassment and physical abuse, IYNAUS has adopted the following rules to govern touch by CIYTs:
- CIYTs may always touch students when necessary to prevent injury: e.g., if one student is about to fall on another student or is falling in a dangerous way.
- Otherwise, CIYTs may not touch students during class unless the CIYT is providing a legitimate physical adjustment to which the student has given consent.
- Adjustments cannot be made to the genital region, the anus, or the breast tissue of a student, no matter what a student says.
- Great sensitivity, caution, more explicit consent, and steps to minimize intrusiveness are required for adjustments to the buttocks, the groins, the arm pit chest, the sternum, and the abdomen.
What are the ethical guidelines concerning sexual or verbal abuse?
The IYNAUS ethical rules prohibit the following:
- any form of verbal abuse, shaming, or bullying of students
- creating sexually hostile environments in yoga classes
- sexual or physical assaults or molestation of students
- the establishment of sexually intimate relationships when a student-teacher relationship exists
Please see the Ethical Guidelines to Prevent Verbal Abuse, Sexual Harassment, and Physical Abuse. These guidelines provide that:
- Students may be touched in class only to prevent harm or provide a legitimate physical adjustment.
- No physical adjustment is legitimate unless the student has provided consent.
- Touch may never exceed the scope of the consent.
- Heightened consent and minimization requirements apply to certain areas (buttocks, abdomen, armpit chest, and sternum.)
- Adjustments to genitals, anus, and breast tissues are categorically prohibited, whether or not there is consent.
According to the Ethical Guidelines, a CIYT is required to notify the IYNAUS Ethics Chair within 14 days if:
- They have been told by a student that another CIYT has intentionally touched that student’s genitals, anus, or breast tissue in class, even if the student requested that the information be held in confidence, or otherwise not disclosed to the IYNAUS Ethics Chair.
- The CIYT witnessed such a sexual assault.
These reporting requirements are modeled on similar rules that apply to university faculty and staff under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
These Ethical Guidelines are a living document. They will be modified as necessary to protect students and ensure that Iyengar teachers adhere to the highest ethical standards. All CIYTs must now annually certify that they have read these guidelines before they renew their IYNAUS membership and Certification Mark agreement.
How can I be sure my complaint is fairly decided?
The Ethics Committee seeks to deal with complaints in a fair and objective manner. Where a conflict of interest exists, or where there is the appearance of one, proceedings are handled by committee members, or specially appointed members, who have no conflict of interest or appearance of one.
Complaints alleging sexual misconduct will be investigated and decided by panels that include individuals with relevant expertise. In certain cases, IYNAUS may retain a third-party investigator. IYNAUS reserves the right to determine the process that best suits a particular complaint.
To reduce the risk of retaliation, a CIYT may not publicize a complaint. In the online complaint form, all parties to complaints are required to promise to keep all complaints confidential.
Where can I find information on the investigation of Manouso Manos?
For information on the investigation, resignation, and decertification of Manouso Manos, please see the following links:
How do I know if a teacher I study with has been decertified?
Manouso Manos is the only teacher who has been decertified by the Iyengar family. Manouso was decertified in a letter from the Iyengars to IYNAUS on April 03, 2019.
As a CIYT, may I study with a teacher who has been decertified by the Iyengars?
Prashant and Abhijata have requested that CIYTs not do this. IYNAUS reserves the right to terminate membership and revoke any CIYT’s right to use the Iyengar name in this circumstance.