Peter Yates | Letters to Skills Active | Keep Yoga Free

Letters to Skills Active

Peter Yates

SkillsActive is the Sector Skills Council for Active Leisure, Learning and Wellbeing; licenced and officially recognised by Government. Sector Skills Councils are independent, employer-led, UK-wide organisations and are committed to working in partnership across the four nations to create the conditions for increased employer investment in skills which will drive enterprise, create jobs and lead to sustainable economic growth.

[NICE AIMS - BUT HOW IS CREATING DIVISIONS IN THE YOGA COMMUNITY, WHEN MANY OF US HAVE WORKED HARD FOR THE LAST 12 YEARS TO SECURE PEACE AND UNDERSTANDING ACROSS A WIDE-DIVERSITY OF PASSIONATELY HELD VIEWS AND PRACTICES, SERVING THE ECONOMY? BESIDES, THIS IS DESIGNED TO SERVE THE CORPORATES IN UKACTIVE RATHER THAT THE JOBBING YOGA TEACHER WHO IS FOR THE MOST PART SELF-EMPLOYED. YOU SEEM TO TAKE NO ACCOUNT OF THIS LATTER.]

National Occupational Standards (NOS) describe the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to undertake a particular task or job to a nationally recognised level of competence. National Occupational Standards are benchmarks of performance. They provide the means for assessing performance in a job: they are work-related statements of the ability, knowledge, understanding and experience that an individual should have to carry out key tasks effectively. Anyone in an occupation covered by NOS can use them to determine what level of competence is required and more importantly whether their own performance meets that industry or sector1 expectation. The Development of any National Occupational Standard goes through a rigorous research, development, consultation and refinement process that is agreed by an industry led Steering Group and Government office in all four nations across the UK. The initial approach for the development of a set of NOS for hatha Yoga teachers was driven by several aspects:

· request from the sector to set a benchmark for the teaching of hatha Yoga
[THE CHAIR OF BWY HAS BEEN CLAIMING THAT YOU APPROACHED THEM. IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST, CAN YOU TELL THE COMMUNITY WHO APPROACHED YOU? IT CERTAINLY WASN’T THE IYN WHICH REPRESENTS SOME 50 + TRAINING SCHOOLS.]

· confusion of insurance providers regarding the standards for Yoga practice and what could be insured
[AGAIN WHO? THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY ISN’T CONFUSED ABOUT THIS AT ALL, WORKING CLOSELY WITH THE MAIN ‘UMBRELLA ‘ YOGA ORGANISATIONS WHICH GIVEN THE LOW LEVEL OF CLAIMS IS EVIDENTLY AN ARRANGEMENT THAT WORKS WELL ALREADY WITHOUT EXTRA RED-TAPE.]

· confusion from training providers regarding the correct qualification required by the sector
[THE SECTOR DOESN’T KNOW WHAT IT REQUIRES. THAT WOULD PRE-SUPPOSE THAT THEY ARE ALREADY KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT YOGA WHICH THEY AREN’T, OR THAT THEY HAVE SOME RIGHT TO MOULD YOGA ACCORDING TO IT’S OWN IMPERATIVES WHICH THEY SIMPLY DON’T.]

· need for standards that set a minimum level of experience/skills that ensure safe practice in teaching hatha yoga, preventing the risk of injury to participants.
[YOU ALREADY HAVE THAT IN THE EFFECTIVE INDEPENDENT YOGA PANEL WHICH HAS FUNCTIONED WELL FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS IN THE TASK OF REASSURING THOSE WHO EMPLOY YOGA TEACHERS AND THE ALREADY EXISTING YOGA UMBRELLA ORGANISATIONS. BESIDES, AS THE INSURANCE EVIDENCE SHOWS, YOGA IS NOT A HIGH RISK ACTIVITY. THIS MAKES ONE REASONABLY SUSPECT THAT THE ‘UNSAFE TEACHERS’ RED-HERRING HAS A PROPOGANDA PURPOSE IN SERVICE OF A PARTICULAR FACTION.]

· request for consistency of standards for teaching hatha yoga, across the UK to provide a clear benchmark for entry on to the SkillsActive Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs)
[YOU ALREADY HAVE THIS AND IT WORKS WELL AND CAN ACCOMMODATE THE REAL-WORLD DIVERSITY OF BELIEFS AND PRACTICES.]
We would like to emphasise that it is not the practice of yoga and its many approaches and philosophies that are being sought to be standardised. The NOS review will only cover the teaching of the pillars of hatha yoga.

[OH DEAR. WHAT ARE THESE PILLARS SUPPOSED TO BE? HATHA YOGA CANNOT BE PEELED OFF FROM THE REST LIKE THIS. APART FROM SINGLETON POSSIBLY, YOU WON’T FIND A SCHOLAR OR EXPERIENCED PRACTITIONER WHO’LL GO ALONG WITH IT. THE HATHA YOGA PRADIPIKA IS AN AUTHORITATIVE TEXT ON HATHA YOGA IF NOT THE AUTHORITATIVE HATHA YOGA TEXT. IT IS A RELIGIOUS TEXT IN AS MUCH AS THE AUTHOR DEDICATES HIS EFFORTS TO THE GOD SIVA AT THE OUTSET OF HIS DISQUISITION. FURTHER, SVATMARAMA [THE AUTHOR] MENTIONS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS HOW HATHA YOGA IS EMPTY UNLESS IT SERVES AS A LADDER TO RAJA YOGA - THE QUEST FOR ENLIGHTENMENT THROUGH CERTAIN MEDITATIONS. HOWEVER YOU GLOSS IT, THIS IS NOT IN YOUR BRIEF AND IS AN IMPORTANT PERSONAL LIBERTY THAT SHOULD NOT BE INTERFERED WITH BY THOSE WHO KNOW NOTHING OF IT. YOU’VE BLUNDERED HERE - I IMAGINE ON THE BASIS OF SOME POOR ADVICE.]

As it is stated in the footnotes below, it is not meant to control or pigeonhole individuals and their practices and beliefs. The principle behind the approach to develop NOS is to establish an agreed core of fundamental skills with which to teach hatha yoga; not whatyou teach. Likewise, it is appreciated that we are all individuals and this process should not be seen as trying to turn out teachers who are regimented in their teaching methods, delivery and approaches.

[I’M GLAD YOU MAKE THAT CONCESSION. BUT THE RESULT OF THE NOS WILL BE PRECISELY TO CONTROL AND PIGEONHOLE. YOU HAVE TAKEN NO ACCOUNT OF THE LIKELY IMPACT OF NOS ON THE WIDER CULTURE OF THE YOGA COMMUNITY. AN AURA OF RESPECTABILITY SURROUNDS ANYTHING ‘GOVERNMENTAL’ OR ‘OFFICIAL’ WITH OBVIOUS IMPACTS ON THE PUBLIC UNDERSTANDING AND THE PERCEIVED LEGITIMACY OF TEACHERS AND TEACHER TRAINERS, CAUSING UNNECESSARY INSECURITY AMONGST THESE AND DRAWING THEM INTO SCHEMAS THEY DON’T FULLY BELIEVE IN. IN THIS CASE THAT AURA IS UNDESERVED - THIS VERY LETTER SHOWS THAT SKILLSACTIVE ISN’T COMPETENT TO DEAL WITH YOGA AT ALL AND SHOULD LEAVE IT TO THE COMMUNITY. NOTE: MY APPRAISAL OF THE LIKELY CULTURAL OUTCOME IS NOT PURE FANCY, BUT BASED ON WHAT THE YOGA COMMUNITY EXPERIENCED THE LAST TIME THE NOS WAS ATTEMPTED
12 YEARS AGO.]

We would like to draw upon a past example to illustrate how NOS development has worked in another sector, with a similar diversity of complexities, methodologies and applications; that of Sports Coaching. A whole host of sports covering swimming, tennis, water polo, synchronised swimming, rugby, hockey etc. all use the Sports Coaching NOS, to base their practice upon. Each professional sports coach uses their own disciplines and approaches with which to coach individuals and they modify their approach to suit each individual they coach, however; they all base their coaching approach upon that of the core Sports Coaching NOS. We respectfully ask you to consider the opportunity of drawing a parallel between this example of adaptation and tailoring2 how this could be applied to the NOS proposed for teaching hatha yoga.

[NO. YOU ARE NOT COMPARING LIKE WITH LIKE. THE MEDITATIONAL ASPECTS OF ALL YOGAS ARE DEFINING. THE HATHA YOGA PRADIPIKA FOR INSTANCE DEVOTES THE LAST OF IT’S FOUR CHAPTERS TO SAMADHI, THE CULMINATION OF RAJA YOGA MEDITATION. IS THERE ARE NO SUCH ASPECTS IN SPORTS COACHING. ]

It is early days in this review and development process and SkillsActive are acting as facilitators, but this process is ultimately led by employers, partner organisations and industry experts within the practice of hatha yoga. The process aims to be transparent and accessible, recognising and respecting the diversity of backgrounds, culture and traditions of practising yoga. The NOS development process is to be focused on the teaching of hatha yoga, which has no religious bias, goal or aim, thereby promoting yoga in an inclusive way that is open to all religions and not confined to one.

[HATHA YOGA HAS A SPIRITUAL, MEDITATIONAL AIM LIKE ALL YOGAS. WITHOUT THAT, IT’S NOT YOGA. AND IT IS THAT WHICH PLACES IT BEYOND YOUR BRIEF AND UNDER THE PROTECTION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT. CALL IT STRETCH CLASS AND YOU WON’T FIND ME AND MY ILK OBJECTING.]