Posts Tagged ‘virginia’

Put Your Money Where Your Mat Is

June 26, 2009

“State-Harassment-of-Yoga-Studios” Flu Outbreak One Step Closer to Full Pandemic

June 17, 2009

Swine FluRICHMOND, VA – While everyone has been keeping their eye on the swine flu pandemic, a different kind of contagious disease has been creeping its way across the United States. That disease is “State-Harassment-of-Yoga-Studios” flu, or “SHYS.”

This highly contagious, fast-moving disease was first reported in Michigan and Missouri earlier this year, and has quickly spread to Arizona, New York, and Virginia.  It is quite possible that the flu has already reached additional states as well. It seems that once one state government comes in contact with another state government that already has the bug, then they have it too. The World Yoga Organization (WYO) has raised its pandemic alert for SHYS flu to the second highest level, meaning that it believes a national outbreak of the disease is imminent.

New York has been hit especially hard, with a recent proposal for their license fees to increase to $5,000! Officials in New York report that they are organizing a Council to defend against the flu, with eradication of the flu as their number one priority. (You can read more about that here and here.)

While the number of yoga studio deaths resulting from  SHYS is unconfirmed, unofficial sources report 4-5 yoga studios / teacher training programs in Virginia alone will need to shut down because they just can’t afford the unreasonable fees being levied by the Commonwealth. There are unconfirmed reports of closings in other states as well.

“Unfortunately our biggest hope ‘Yoga Alliance‘ has been completely ineffective,” said WYO Director-General Durga. “The best defense at this point is for yoga teachers across each state to join together and open communications with their State Governments. You can begin this fight RIGHT NOW by downloading the attached letter and sending it to your state representatives.” Durga continued, “Eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep will also better prepare you to fight off this disease.”

In the Midst of a Recession, VA Bullies Yoga Studios into Paying Unreasonable Fees

June 8, 2009

Last week I told you about the application process that Virginia is requesting demanding yoga studios to through to obtain a Certificate to Operate a yoga teacher trainingva seal fail program. So here’s a little more of what the yoga studios have to go through.

Part of the process to get your yoga teacher training program approved by the Commonwealth is you have to agree to random AUDITS. On the second page of the Institutional Certification Checklist for Postsecondary Schools, one of the numerous, cumbersome forms the studios have to fill out, it says:

I understand, that if at any time (Name of institution requesting certification) fails to meet or to maintain compliance with Council’s certification criteria, Council may revoke or suspend its certification.  I understand that in the event the school is selected for audit, it may be subjected to an administrative fee of $1,000 for each item of non-compliance found as a result of the audit. Further, I understand that violations of the Virginia Administrative Code shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor and that each violation shall constitute a separate offense. (studio owner is supposed to sign this to indicate agreement)

For a small business, $1,000 per violation is no chump change!

In 2007 Virginia audited 36 schools and found whopping total of 177 violations – about 5 violations per school. At $1,000 per violation, that means EACH SCHOOL PAID ON AVERAGE $5,000 IN VIOLATION FEES.

The violations were:

  • Advertising – 32 violations
  • Faculty Credentials – 27 violations
  • No written documentation on history of school and/or ownership – 25 violations
  • Student policy (including grievance process) missing or incomplete – 19
  • violations
  • Improperly maintaining student admissions or financial records – 16 violations
  • Incorrect refund policy or incorrect processing of refunds – 16 violations

The remaining 42 violations don’t seem to be listed????

These are violations committed by large institutions that have STAFF.  Gosh I can’t imagine that a yoga studio might not have all of their ducks in a row at all times! News flash: yoga studios generally do not have a staff to handle things like this! Like any other small business, the owner does everything:  run the studio, teach most of the classes, lead teacher training programs, handle  the marketing, keep track of the bookkeeping, manage other teachers, etc. Yoga studios are NOT major universities or community colleges that have staff and $$!

Now $5,000 in violation fees might not seem like a lot of money to a post-secondary institution such as the University of Virginia, which as of June 30 2008, had $657K in current assets (which includes cash and short term investments) and overall, had $6.8M in net assets. But I haven’t seen a yoga studio with a financial profile like that, have you?
It’s just OUTRAGEOUS to lump small business yoga studios under this law that is really for major educational institutions.

Money Grab: Virginia Tells Yoga Teacher Training Schools to Submit and Pay Up

June 5, 2009

Following in the footsteps of Michigan, Arizona, and New York, Virginia has decided that it too needs to require it’s yoga teacher training programs to file for a state “Certificate to Operate.”

Citing Virginia Title 23 of the Code of Virginia, the Commonwealth is requiring all teacher training schools to:

  1. Attend a new school orientation. In Richmond. For $150.
  2. Submit a complete certificate application plus a fee of $2500. To see the 16 forms that need to be completed, click here.
  3. Undergo a site visit – not sure what comes out of this.

I’ve also learned:

  • There is a recurring annual fee of $2500 to maintain the “Certificate to Operate.” That’s a whole lotta dough to a yoga studio!
  • Each school / studio must submit to random audits. For any violation (that could mean having the logo on the wrong spot in your documents), there is a $1000 fine per violation. SCARY.
  • In addition, the Commonwealth will determine additional fees to be paid based on the studio’s income (overall income or teacher training income, we’re not sure). SCARY.

Virginia Title 23, chapter 21.1 23-276, 1-276 of the Code of Virginia states that

  • No person shall open, operate or conduct any postsecondary school in this Commonwealth without a certificate to operate such postsecondary school issued by the Council.
  • “Postsecondary school” or “school” means any entity offering formal instructional programs with a curriculum designed primarily for students who have completed the requirements for a high school diploma or its equivalent.

But yoga teacher trainings are not postsecondary! The Commonwealth has been advised of this but they say “pay up” anyway.

Hmmm…money grab? I think so!

So far we know that 4 studios in VA have decided to hang up their teacher training mats, leaving us with just 20 teacher training programs in the entire state. Not good for the public, not good for the studios, and not good for the Commonwealth as that means less income for them to tax!

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