The British Wheel of Yoga (BWY) is the largest yoga membership organisation in the UK. The organisation is committed to promoting a greater understanding of yoga and its safe practice through experience, education, study and training. The BWY offers its own teacher training programme accredited at Level 4 and accredits other yoga teacher training organisations. The British Wheel of Yoga was awarded National Governing Body status in 1995 by the then Sports Council (now Sports England).
Founded in 1965 by Wilfred Clark as The Wheel of British Yoga, the organisation changed its name to The British Wheel of Yoga in 1974. The first BWY National Congress took place in Birmingham in 1967. Wilfred Clark died in 1981 having attended many BWY Congresses. The Annual Congress still continues to provide the opportunity for members to meet, exchange ideas and develop their practice.
Jenny King is a member of the British Wheel of Yoga and serves as a media contact for the organisation. She spoke to Yogamatters about the role of BWY in the UK and the upcoming BWY Festival at the University of Warwick.
Firstly, could you briefly explain the role of BWY in the UK?
The BWY aims to be the most inclusive yoga membership organisation in the UK. We bring together everyone who loves yoga in a community where we can practise yoga together, learn about its impact and benefits and offer fantastic training to anyone who wants to pursue this, either as a means to working as a yoga teacher or delving deeper into yoga with our foundation courses.
How many BWY teachers are there in the UK and what do you have to do to become one?
There are currently over 5000 teachers who have trained with us. There are 2 routes to teacher training – a 300 hour certificate course or a 500 hour diploma course. BWY offers Ofqual-regulated, Level 4 yoga teacher training qualifications.
If you are looking for a yoga teacher training qualification that is recognised throughout the UK education system, by schools, colleges, universities and employers, then you have come to the right place. Our qualifications are government regulated by the Office for Qualifications (Ofqual) and are benchmarked to national educational standards. When you achieve our Level 4 qualifications you have attained an award at Level 4 – foundation degree level. This is the highest level of yoga teacher training available in the UK.
The BWY website had an update in 2017. What does the website offer yoga teachers and students across the UK?
The website update has made all the information readily available. Now you can find your nearest class quickly wherever you are, find out about courses and book directly on to events. It makes us feel more joined up as before you could only book your region’s events online whereas now you have access to a wealth of nationwide events which works better for people as they may want to go with a friend who doesn’t live in the same region or take an opportunity to travel/ see a different part of the UK.
How has BWY supported you personally in your yoga teaching and journey over the years?
As a non teacher, the BWY has supported me in my journey by providing additional opportunities to learn about yoga. I had been practising for about 10 years when I thought ‘I love this, but how does it work and how did it get here?’ I took a Foundation course with the BWY and found out about the anatomy and physiology of yoga and also the history and philosophy of the first yogis which was fascinating. You can find your nearest course here.
What is your own role at BWY and what does that involve?
My role involves ensuring the consistency of the brand across all media, ensuring our advertising reflects our membership, looking at ways to engage our members to get involved, whether that’s volunteering at an event, throwing their hat in the ring to teach or be a spokesperson for yoga and generally raising the profile of the British Wheel of Yoga across the media.
What face to face feedback did you receive from your presence at the OM Yoga Show in London in October?
The OM Yoga show always gives us a chance to meet potential new members. It’s always really interesting to hear from them. Sometimes they are surprised that we aren’t just for teachers and are pleasantly surprised they can join a group of like-minded yogis. Awareness of our name is strong and most people know that we have been in the yoga business a long time, but don’t know of our new initiatives, such as getting yoga teachers to teach children and to make yoga as diverse as possible. All our classes are open to everyone.
Tell us about the BWY Well Being Spring Festival at Warwick University in March 2018.
Every year, we have a fantastic get together at the University of Warwick. It’s a weekend immersion in yoga, a chance to see old friends and make new ones and as members, to have their voices heard in the management of the BWY. We have an amazing line up this year including world-renowned yoga therapist Dr Timothy McCall, Heather Mason from the Minded Institute on yoga in the NHS and BWY teacher, Emma Slade will talk about her journey from banking to becoming a Buddhist monk in Bhutan.
It’s a lovely spring get together: last year it was boiling hot, but a few years ago it was snowing so always a lovely launch into Spring and a new year’s goals and practice.This year, we are already sold out, so watch this space for news of 2019!
Why is this year’s theme of health, healing and wellbeing important to reflect on in the yoga world currently?
We live in stressful, busy times and finding coping mechanisms for stress makes life easier and doing yoga keeps both mind and body healthy. The British Wheel of Yoga is investing heavily in yoga for children and young people and will have a special event in November 2018 in London before the launch of new family memberships and new teaching modules. Go to bwy.org.uk for more information as it comes online.