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Yoga Instructors File Federal Lawsuit Against Virginia Licensing Rules

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Virginia already licenses the teaching of dog groomers, dancing instructors and bartenders.  If new licensing laws go through, yoga instructors could be added to that list.
Jonathan Wilson
Virginia already licenses the teaching of dog groomers, dancing instructors and bartenders. If new licensing laws go through, yoga instructors could be added to that list.

By Jonathan Wilson

Three local yoga instructors have filed a lawsuit claiming Virginia's new licensing rules for the yoga industry are a violation of the First Amendment.

The federal lawsuit is in response to Virginia's vocational school licensing laws.

If they're applied to the yoga industry any school offering a yoga teacher-training course will have to pay a $2,500 application fee, a yearly renewal fee, and have curricula approved by the commonwealth.

Rob Frommer, a lawyer for the Institute For Justice points out that you don't have to have a license to practice yoga in Virginia, or teach yoga in Virginia. But¦

"You have to get the government's permission in order to teach people how to teach yoga," Frommer says. "That law makes no sense."

Kirsten Nelson, with the state council of higher education or SCHEV, says the rules are there to protect people taking the classes.

If they shell out money for yoga instruction classes with a school licensed by the state they'll be in line for a partial refund if the school suddenly closes.

Natasha Hennessy, owner of Alexandria's largest yoga studio, Pure Prana sees it differently.

"The state of Virginia is looking for as many ways as possible to collect money from any institution that they possibly can," Hennessy says.

Virginia already licenses the teaching of dog groomers, dancing instructors and bartenders.

Nelson says Virginia will hold off on enforcing yoga instruction classes until after the state's 2010 general assembly session.

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