The British Wheel of Yoga was founded in 1965 by Wilfred Clark (1898 – 1981). In the early days most classes were provided by Local Authorities but in the sixties attitudes were changing dramatically, with more people travelling to far distant lands in search of alternative lifestyles and, closer to home, seeking out classes and books that could provide help and guidance. The publication of BKS Iyengar’s Light on Yoga and James Hewitt’s Yoga further whetted public interest and a belief grew that a national frame-work was needed.
The Wheel began life as The Wheel of British Yoga but this was changed in 1969 to The Western Yoga Federation, which produced a draft constitution in 1972 and registered as a charity in 1973. The name was changed to The British Wheel of Yoga in 1974.
The BWY initially had 6 regions, which by 1973 had become 8 regions. The first one-day National Congress was in Birmingham in 1967, moving to a national two-day residential event in Walsall in 1976. The occasion was a great success and there has been a residential Congress/AGM ever since.
The first BWY Teaching Course was run in 1971 by Ken Thompson. Other courses soon followed. The Diploma Teacher Training Syllabus was totally rewritten in 1995 in response to ongoing evaluation and development. The Teaching Diploma at Level 4 qualification was introduced in 2009 and is the only yoga teaching qualification in the UK at Level 4, (equal to the first year of undergraduate study). In addition to the Diploma, the Wheel offers training at Foundation level and personal and professional development yoga modules.
The British Wheel of Yoga was awarded National Governing Body status by the then Sports Council in 1995 as one of several applying organisations . In its role of Governing Body, the BWY accredits other yoga teacher training organisations.
The BWY moved into its current offices in Sleaford in 1988.