When or if, you want to become a Yoga teacher – would you be thinking of litigation, business, and Yoga? The old saying, “the truth hurts,” applies to legality, ethics, and teaching Yoga. You can always “bury your head in the sand” and hope that you are never involved in a legal battle. After all, what kind of a student would sue his or her Yoga teacher? Doctors must ask each other this question every day. Sorry, but denial will not help you in a court of law.
Instead of denying the obvious, you can take action, by learning how the law applies to your Yoga business. You can also start creating policies that protect your students, and insure that you are giving quality Yoga instruction for the rest of your life.
It has been said that “Knowledge is Power,” and this could never be more true than when it comes down to knowing the “Letter of the Law.” Just like when a Yoga student first learns to develop his or her awareness from Yoga and meditation practice – Yoga teachers must develop an awareness of legality, as it pertains to their Yoga businesses.
For the average teacher, the thought of litigation, as a result of a student entering his or her Yoga class, is depressing. Many teachers and interns pursue the rewarding career of teaching Yoga as “Good Samaritans.” Yoga teachers are very often generous with their time, effort, and services.
It is “heartbreaking” for me to tell “giving people,” with the best of intentions, that they can be sued at any time. In this climate of litigation, anyone, even a Yoga teacher, can have a lawsuit filed against them. Defending yourself, in a court of law, can and does, create physical, spiritual, mental, and financial exhaustion.
As a result of this reality, this requires protective action on the part of all Yoga teachers. Look at this as a prevention program and a compliment to your current liability insurance policy. “I didn’t know,” will not save any of us from the wrath of the law. If you think teaching is not a business, you may have to explain that to a judge and jury.
Review your liability insurance and your release forms. Most teachers should have their attorney review their release forms. The days of a simple one page waiver form are over. A documented health questionnaire may help you to prevent a sudden legal catastrophe. This is not required, but serves as a tangible document to know each student a little better.
Just remember that a potential Yoga student has the legal right to refuse to fill out a questionnaire, if they so desire. You also have a right to refuse to teach someone who is a threat to your business. When students refuse to inform you about their pre-existing health conditions, this leaves you “flying blind,” when teaching Yoga classes to students whose current health condition is a mystery.
Therefore, always mention contraindications for asanas. It would be prudent to have an information packet, with contraindications, and prenatal warnings included. You could also include a slip for students to sign, which indicates that they have read, and understand, that Yoga can be a risk for some health conditions.
Lastly, it is better to lose a potential student, than to teach one at the risk of his or her health.
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