become a vinyasa yoga instructorBy Faye Martins

Yoga, which was originally practiced for spiritual purposes, has rapidly become known as one of the most popular forms of exercise. We may not see it as an exercise, but try explaining that to the public. Although the fitness industry has witnessed an increased interest in this regimen, there are a number of ethical yoga studio owners whose businesses struggle. The reasons they struggle vary and can be contingent upon their visibility, overhead, debt, the personalities of the instructors, students who see no value in yoga training, and even the demographics of their regions.

Another overlooked cause of suffering yoga practices can be attributed to a perception of business ethics, which includes misconceptions about practices, such as marketing, business, and accepting payments for services. Some students perceive business and accepting money as supposedly not yogic. Unfortunately, people who want something for nothing, show up at every business, asking everyone for a handout. The point being: some people would have you believe you aren’t ethical unless you teach yoga for free.

Yoga studios should not have to struggle financially, especially with the need for the many health benefits from yoga practice. For this reason, yoga schools should have informative handouts, naming studies and the realistic benefits, that new students can expect from a regular practice.

Foundational Ethics

Ethics in yoga and teaching yoga are universal. Every yoga teacher knows the fundamentals of an ethical practice. Common sense doesn’t require books to be written about how to behave, and teachers should have a handle on common sense.  Most yoga certification programs provide an ethics agreement for teachers. Yoga ethics in classrooms today is founded in yogic philosophy.

One of the primary aspects includes Ahisma, which emphasizes adhering to the way of non-violence and not harming others. Essentially, yoga aims to redirect attention to a humane, harmonious way of living. This principle applies to times, such as when a student is struggling and needs a gentle touch to encourage a stronger Asana (posture).

In the context of a corrective touch that the student has consented to, Ahisma is well observed. On the other hand, everyone has differentiating needs and may feel a touch to be intrusive. It is the duty of the instructor to remain observant enough to sense, or even ask about, the student’s specific needs. If a student does not want a physical assist, the student has a right to refuse help. This is something every new student should know. It can be a precarious balance, but ethics will be upheld as long as a yoga practice errs on the side of non-harming. However, the mindful incorporation of Ahisma alone will not guarantee protection from potential lawsuits.

A successful yoga business, as delicate as it may be, should never ignore legalities. Sound legal advice is necessary, particularly for wellness practitioners. Legal Care Direct offers free legal advice for new businesses, and they can even give counsel about writing up clear release forms for yoga studios that properly communicate to clients the risks involved of the exercise. LegalZoom is another great resource that provides the common documents small business will use constantly.

Yoga has a huge amount of benefits to offer to a broad audience. Good ethics, from effectively advertising a yoga studio for its uniqueness, to communicating thoroughly with the students, are essential to ensuring that your yoga students get the most from it.

© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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