YOGA teachers have joined together to create the country’s first trade union for the profession.
Formed as a branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, which organises among precarious and gig-economy workers, the Yoga Teachers’ Union aims to take on exploitation, harassment and discrimination that it says are rife in the sector.
It calculates that even before the pandemic 60 per cent of yoga teachers were paid below the living wage — some as little as £5 an hour including unpaid overtime — and that only 4 per cent had employee status.
The fledgling union has already set up working groups to tackle key issues identified by members, and is offering training on responding to and preventing sexual harassment.
“The global yoga industry is worth around £60 billion and much of that wealth is being extracted from underpaid, exploited yoga teachers,” says union secretary Simran Uppal.
“We’re not monks protected by an ashram or a wealthy elite of wellness celebrities. We have to survive just like the other precarious workers in the IWGB and around the world.
“It’s time for the yoga industry to live its values and respect our human rights.”