Colorado Relaxes Yoga School Regulations

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill last month that saves dozens of yoga schools from onerous restrictions. Last fall, the Colorado Division of Private Occupational Schools sent letters to over 80 yoga teacher-training studios demanding that they comply with the law: to become legally certified, these schools would have had to pay nearly $2,000 in fees, and spend an additional $1,500 every three years to renew their certification. Yoga schools would also have had to comply with a site inspection and send their curricula to the state for approval. That clearly posed a threat to their economic liberty and academic independence. Having the government decide which curricula are “adequate” or not would violate the First Amendment, just as it would be if the government forced authors to submit their books for approval before they could be published and sold. Thankfully, the newly signed law exempts the yoga schools from certification.

As Vincent Carroll noted for The Denver Post:

The studios have existed for years without state guidance in curriculum, training and consumer protection—and without scandals in which irate students flood the state with complaints. And given social media and online reviews of products and services, it’s easier than ever for consumers to ferret out suspect or third-rate actors.

According to the legislative council’s fiscal impact statement, “There have been no instances of criminal violations of the Private Occupational Schools statutes in the past three years.”

Thankfully, regulators in other states are letting sleeping (downward) dogs lie. After the Institute for Justice filed a lawsuit on behalf of three yoga instructors, Virginia enacted a law in 2010 that exempts yoga teachers from the commonwealth’s vocational-school license. Getting that license would have beenalmost as hard as doing a formidable face pose: “In order to secure the license, instructors were required to pay a $2,500 application fee, fill out dozens of hours of paperwork and—before speaking—get their curriculum approved by Virginia bureaucrats.” Lawmakers in Arkansas, New York and Texas have also enacted similar exemptions.

— Nick Sibilla

Nick Sibilla is a writer at the Institute for Justice

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