how to become a yoga instructorBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

After an intern has successfully completed a Yoga teacher training course, he or she is looking for teaching positions and considering many side issues. One of the main issues is liability insurance. Below is a question and answer session regarding Yoga teachers and liability insurance.

Q. What if a student did not indicate a specific health issue and has a problem, ailment, or physical condition that I am unaware of?

A: You cannot read minds, but you can develop a preliminary questionnaire for all of your students to answer, before they enter your classes. A detailed questionnaire makes you aware of their ailments and limitations. For Yoga teachers, negligence is when we take risks with our student’s health and well being.

Negligence also happens when we know of a pre-existing problem, but we fail to take action, by creating a safe environment and practice for our students. If a student does not tell you about his or her pre-existing health conditions, when you have an established track record of establishing student safety policies, you cannot be held responsible for a student’s actions.

Q. Likewise, what if a student indicates a pre-existing condition and then does not follow teacher safety guidelines and corresponding information for student safety?

A: You should continually mention safety precautions during your classes. Sometimes, a stubborn student may have to be warned or advised to stop practicing in your Yoga classes. If a student is taking risks against your advice, you should address this directly. You are not responsible for students who do not follow your advice in regard to their safety.

Q. How do teachers protect themselves from being the subjects of lawsuits?

A: Firstly, anyone can be sued for anything. It’s a matter of whether a judge feels a case has legitimacy. A small number of Yoga teachers could find themselves at risk for accusations regarding negligence, lack of ethics, or harassment lawsuits. However, there are very few Yoga students who have ever complained about negligence, ethics violations, or harassment.

This is one more reason why certified Yoga teachers should be active in their continuing education. As long as you have a track record of professional behavior, establishing safety guidelines, giving modifications, watching your class, and building a rapport with students, you should be fine. Giving an extra safety tip, making handouts available, or mentioning a specific contraindication, during your classes, establishes a history of your deep concern over student safety.

Q. What are your thoughts about Yoga teachers acquiring liability insurance?

A: Most Yoga teachers have liability insurance for themselves or the entire staff at the center. Teachers should consider Yoga or sports liability insurance, depending upon the reputation of the company and the rates. Most teachers admit, they never had to use it; but liability insurance gives each teacher a “safety net.” You never really know if any insurance is good until you have a problem.

© Copyright 2010 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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