If you have ever taken yoga classes at Live Yoga you have enjoyed the welcoming environment and friendly space that is inclusive and open to all age, gender, sexual orientation, or physical ability. We pride ourselves on offering yoga, movement, Pilates and breathing classes that inform students about proper alignment and safety as well as provide instruction and support for students to develop strength and flexibility while learning to regulate their nervous system and bring balance to their lives. Our teachers provide individual instruction and really care for every student that comes in the door, occasionally offering gentle adjustments, or simply some pressure on the shoulders to help with relaxation in Savasana (relaxation posture).
Most of the time this thoughtful gesture is well received and a valuable support to help students learn about their body and the postures. But sometimes touch and adjustments are unwanted yet students might not have a chance to voice their preference and a personal boundary can be broken. We truly value each and every student and want to honour the preference of each individual by asking for informed consent in every class.
Informed consent is a process for getting permission before conducting a healthcare intervention on a person. An informed consent can be said to have been given based upon a clear appreciation and understanding of the facts, implications, and consequences of an action. Adequate informed consent is rooted in respecting a person’s dignity. (definition for Wikipedia)
We will be introducing Consent Cards in the studio to use during all of our classes. These cards will be placed at the top of the yoga mat to let the teacher know if you wish to receive any touch or adjustments during the class. One side says, “Yes, Please. I would like to receive hands- on assist.” The other side says, “No, Thank You.” This ensures those that enjoy and look forward to receiving hands-on assists can continue to while empowering students who would rather practice free from any form of touch. The great thing about Consent Cards is that you can change you mind anytime you want and perhaps flip your card halfway through class, depending on how you are feeling.
Why Consent Cards?
Part of creating a safe space for yoga and movement is making sure each and every student that comes to class has the choice of whether or not to be touched, or have their personal space impeded on. Making sure the student is in control of what happens in the yoga studio gives a sense of safety, control and confidence in making decisions regarding touch or assists. Informed consent might not seem like a big deal to some but many people suffer from past trauma, abuse, PTSD, or may have an undisclosed injury or personal situation that would make receiving any touch or adjustment stir up a traumatizing memory, create anxiety, or make them extremely uncomfortable. Often these private feelings are not disclosed freely, especially with a yoga instructor in a public setting. Without any control or choice of whether or not they are touched may prevent a person from ever stepping into a yoga class. By offering the choice, a safe haven for all students is created.
Creating a Healthy Studio Culture
Most teachers at Live Yoga offer physical adjustments sparingly and not in every class. By having the Consent Card for reference each teacher can be definitively sure it is okay to help a student in a pose. Developing a healthy student-teacher relationship is of the utmost importance for the quality transmission of yoga. Students put a great deal of trust in the teacher so it is important they understand why they are being touched and how it will help their posture. Likewise, that trust must be maintained if a student chooses to not receive any adjustments. Our hope in bringing Consent Cards to our studio is that all students feel empowered to make their yoga practice their own, whether that’s receiving touch or not.
Making Consent the Norm
Using the Consent Cards in class might take some getting used to, and may even be a bit confusing at first, but eventually students will understand why it is important to have a choice, and how that choice makes it okay to turn down touch and adjustments. Yoga has so much healing potential in the body, mind and spirit and making consent the norm at Live Yoga will ensure all students can come to practice without worry and enjoy their practice in a safe environment.
We look forward to having Consent Cards in all of our classes and continuing to offer great yoga while nurturing a healing space and the wellness of our community.