Yoga Instructors Use Lawyers, Guns, and Money to Fight Virginia Regulation

Apparently, the yoga instructors in Virginia didn't get the message.

Virgina is following the national trend — it plans to regulate yoga studios that provide teacher training programs.  This means hefty fees and lots of paperwork for these studios.

Yesterday, the Institute for Justice (“IJ”)  announced that it filed Kalish v. Milliken on behalf of three yoga instructors to challenge Virginia’s plan to regulate them.  IJ asserts that regulation of yoga training programs is an unconstitutional restriction of free speech.  (Siouxsie has been unable to find a copy of the lawsuit anywhere.  This is a link to an article discussing the lawsuit.)

Interestingly, these Virginia yoga instructors didn’t try civil disobedience, praying or meditation to stop these regulations.  Instead, they opted for hardcore litigation to take on the regulators.  They even hired Clark Neily of IJ to do this — a libertarian and gun-rights advocate who is noted for his participation in the most important gun case in recent history, District of Columbia v. Heller. Yikes.  Talk about strange bedfellows.

Siouxsie would like to side with the yogis on this one, but she just doesn’t see it.  How are these yoga studios any different from other places that train individuals to teach a trade?

In any event, it doesn’t seem as if the Virginia yogis are against regulation per se.  R. Mark Davis, president and CEO of the Arlinton-based Yoga Alliance, notes that

the alliance’s goal was to establish a form of self regulation and takes no position on whether states ought to issue licenses, but he said in other states most practitioners report no problems. The biggest problem in Virginia, he said is the $2,500 upfront fee is exorbitant for small studios that only have a few students.

Perhaps, the lawsuit will pressure Virginia to revisit the amount of this fee.  Maybe that is the whole point of this lawsuit anyway.

Siouxsie only wishes these Virginia yoga instructors could have been more like the ones in New York.  When New York threatened to regulate licensing of yoga instructors

[t]he teachers formed a coalition and enlisted a state senator . . . to take up their cause, hoping that New York would buck the national trend . . . . That unity was on display . . . in a small studio in Midtown Manhattan, where nearly 100 devotees from around the state sat barefoot and cross-legged on the wood floor.  The group, whose members ranged from lithe young teachers in spandex to older ones in religious garb, opened with a traditional chant and ended two hours later struggling with parliamentary procedure as it established a formal organization.

[The leader of the coalition] prayed for “some joyful conclusion. . . .”

Within days, [the state] [announced] that the department would suspend the licensing effort, allow the classes to continue and instead lobby for legislation adding yoga to a list of activities that are exempt from regulation.


Disclaimer:  Siouxsie is a yoga addict and hopes to get certification as an instructor in her state of domicile.

Bonus Track: Warren Zevon — Lawyers, Guns and Money

Bonus Track 2: Magnolia Electric Co. — Lawyers, Guns and Money

photo credit:


~ by siouxsielaw on December 2, 2009.

One Response to “Yoga Instructors Use Lawyers, Guns, and Money to Fight Virginia Regulation”

  1. yoga…

    […]Yoga Instructors Use Lawyers, Guns, and Money to Fight Virginia Regulation « Siouxsie Law[…]…

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