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Yoga Teachers Tied in Knots in Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - Yoga teachers say the state of Virginia has no business demanding that they pay $2,500 in fees and fill out dozens of pages of paperwork so that bureaucrats who may not know a kundalini from a coconut can approve or reject their curriculum.

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia has decreed that yoga teachers must register with the Commonwealth and go through the costly process in which state officials who may know little or nothing about yoga will approve or reject their curriculum.

In their federal complaint, the yoga instructors say the government's new demands violate their freedom of speech and association.

The teachers say the state misinterpreted its Vocational School Law, which requires "career-technical" schools to be registered.

Though Virginia does not require a license for regular yoga classes, teachers who charge a fee to train teachers must register with the state.

The law requires the yoga schools to pay a $2,500 fee, create transcripts for their students and create other criteria that would turn yoga schools into formal academic institutions.

The teachers say this violates their free speech by stopping them from "disseminating knowledge concerning yoga and yoga-teaching methods".

The plaintiffs are three yoga instructors, some of them with decorated yoga backgrounds. Suzanne Leitner-Wise has been certified as a British Wheel of Yoga teacher and is registered by the Yoga Alliance.

They sued the members of the State Council of Higher Education.

The teachers want the state enjoined from applying the Vocational School Law to them. They are represented by William Mellor from the Institute for Justice of Arlington.

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