Standards & Considerations

Ethical Standards & 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.

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 publishing 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 represent a code of ethics by which all CIYTs have agreed to abide. 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.

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Ethical Standards

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 accordance 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 Trademark Committee of IYNAUS. (Asteya, non-stealing)

Responsibility to students and community:

  1. CIYTs are truthful. (Satya, truthfulness)
  2. CIYTs welcome all students regardless of race, gender identity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or physical challenges (skill level of teacher permitting). (Ahimsa, non-violence)
  3. CIYTs neither speak nor act abusively toward others. (Ahimsa, non-violence)
  4. CIYTs do not sexually harass students. (Ahimsa, non-violence, and Brahmacharya, continence)
  5. CIYTs do not establish intimate relationships when a student-teacher relationship exists. (Ahimsa, non-violence, and Aparigraha, non-coveting)
  6. CIYTs 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)

Personal responsibility whether in-person, or on email, video, social media or online:

  1. CIYTs maintain a clean and well-groomed appearance. (Sauca, purity)
  2. CIYTs dress in a modest manner while teaching yoga. (Sauca, purity, and Brahmacharya)
  3. CIYTs avoid abuse of drugs and alcohol. (Sauca, purity)
  4. CIYTs avoid use of foul language. (Sauca, purity)
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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 disciplines 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. "Failure to cooperate" includes disrespectful, threatening or abusive behavior toward any member of the Ethics Committee in connection with ethics proceedings. The Ethics Committee may cease any proceeding immediately if full and respectful cooperation is not achieved.
  4. Any CIYT who is uncertain of how these ethical guidelines are to be applied in a particular situation should contact the Ethics Committee for guidance before taking action.
  5. It is a violation of these guidelines for any CIYT to publicize any information related to an ethics complaint. "Information" includes 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, and any sanctions imposed.
  6. It is unethical for any CIYT to retaliate against any individual for filing an ethics complaint.
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Ethical Considerations & Guidelines

In addition to the ethical standards given above, certain broader considerations are also essential for CIYTs to maintain the integrity and vitality of the teaching of B.K.S. Iyengar.

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 acknowledgment of this status, which can be his alone within this community.

Second, the role of the teacher is to arouse the student's enthusiastic interest in yoga and dedication to developing a deep and personal practice. Because the subject is a highly personal one, the teacher may appear to have exceptional personal powers. In this situation, teachers can easily become proud or confused, believing that the role of teacher has given them personal power or merit. CIYTs must 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.

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Sexual Harassment

Our ethical standards prohibit sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is not gender specific. Harassers and their recipients may be of different genders or 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 sexually hostile environment in a classroom or yoga studio includes sexual conversations, graphic verbal or degrading comments about 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 annually review our Ethical Guidelines To Prevent Verbal Abuse, Sexual Harassment, and Physical Abuses.

Verbalized corrections given to entire class
Verbalized corrections given to entire class
Verbalized individual correction
Verbalized individual correction
Verbalized explanation of adjustment
Verbalized explanation of adjustment
Words or conduct are perceived as threatening
Words or conduct are perceived as threatening
Tactile adjustment: given when students do not respond to the demonstration or verbal instruction
Tactile adjustment: given when students do not respond to the demonstration or verbal instruction
CIYTs use EXTRA caution adjusting these areas
CIYTs use EXTRA caution adjusting these areas
These areas are NEVER to be touched through clothing, with or without consent
These areas are NEVER to be touched through clothing, with or without consent