SECTION 1: Statement of Purpose

Yoga Well Institute recognizes the sensitive nature of the student-teacher relationship, especially the hierarchal power structure that is advantageous to the teacher.  Consequently, we believe that it is the responsibility of the yoga teacher to ensure a safe and protected environment in which a student can grow physically, mentally, and spiritually.

SECTION 2: Foundational Principles

In order to protect the student in this potentially vulnerable relationship, as well as to uphold the highest professional standards for yoga teachers we accept the following foundation principles:

  1. To avoid discriminating against or refusing professional help to anyone based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religious, or national origin.
  2. To stay abreast of new developments in the field of yoga through educational activity and study.
  3. To maintain a regular, daily yoga practice which is directed by a reliable outside reference.
  4. To manage our personal lives in a healthy fashion and to seek appropriate assistance for our own personal problems or conflicts.
  5. To seek out and engage in collegial relationships, recognizing that isolation can lead to a loss of perspective and judgment.
  6. To provide rehabilitative instruction only for those problems or issues that are within the reasonable boundaries of our competence.
  7. To establish and maintain appropriate professional relationship boundaries.
  8. To cultivate an attitude of humanity in our teaching, we dedicate our work to something greater than ourselves.

SECTION 3: Professional Practices

In all professional matters, we maintain practices and teaching procedures that protect the public and advance the profession.

  1. We view our knowledge, services and professional associations as being for the benefit of the people we serve and vow not to use them to secure unfair personal advantage.
  2. Fees and financial arrangements, as with all contractual matters, are always discussed without hesitation or equivocation at the onset and are established in a straightforward professional manner.
  3. We at times render service to individuals or groups in need without regard to financial remuneration.
  4. We neither receive nor pay a commission for the referral of a private student.
  5. We conduct our fiscal affairs with due regard to recognized business and accounting procedures.
  6. We are careful to represent facts truthfully to students, referral sources and third party payers regarding credentials and services rendered. We will correct any misrepresentation of our professional qualifications.
  7. We do not malign colleagues or other professionals.

SECTION 4: Student Relationships

It is the teacher’s responsibility to maintain relationships with students that are appropriate and professional.

  1. We make only realistic statements regarding the benefits of yoga.
  2. We show sensitive regard for the moral, social and religious standards of students and groups. We avoid imposing our beliefs on others, although we may express them when appropriate in the yoga class.
  3. We recognize the special nature of the teacher-student relationship and hold its purpose to be supporting and facilitating the student’s healing and personal development.
  4. We recognize the trust placed by the student in the teacher and the power that gives the teacher. While acknowledging the complexity of relationships, we avoid exploiting the trust and dependency of students. We avoid dual relationships with students (e.g. business, close personal or sexual relationships) as we acknowledge that they can easily impair our professional judgment, compromise the integrity of our instructions and/or become a means for our own gain. We never engage in harassment, abusive words, actions, or exploitative coercion of students or former students.
  5. All forms of sexual behavior with students are unethical, even when a student invites or consents to involvement in such behavior. Sexual behavior is defined as, but not limited to all forms of overt and covert seductive speech, gestures, and behaviors in addition to any physical contact of a sexual nature.  All forms of sexual harassment are unethical. Harassment is defined as, but not limited to, repeated comments, gestures, or physical contact of a sexual nature.
  6. We recognize that the teacher-student relationship involves a power imbalance, the residual effects of which remain after the student is no longer studying with the teacher. Therefore, we suggest extreme caution if you choose to enter into a personal relationship with a former student.  It is not appropriate to engage in sexual relations with a former student for at least 1 year after the end of the student-teacher relationship.
  7. We do not abandon or neglect students. If we are unable, or unwilling for appropriate reasons, to provide professional help or continue a professional relationship, every reasonable effort is made to arrange for continuation of instruction with another teacher.

SECTION 5: Confidentiality

We respect the integrity and protect the welfare of all persons with whom we are working, and recognize that it is our obligation to safeguard any information about them obtained in the course of instruction.

  1. All records kept on a student are stored or disposed of in a manner that assures security and confidentiality.
  2. We treat all communications from students with professional confidence.
  3. When supervising apprentices or consulting with other yoga teachers, we use only the first names of our students, except in those situation where the identity of the student is necessary to the understanding of the case. It is our responsibility to convey the importance of confidentiality to the apprentice or consultant.
  4. We do not disclose student confidences to anyone, except: as mandated by law; to prevent a clear and immediate danger to someone; in the course of a civil, criminal, or disciplinary action arising from the instruction where the teacher is a defendant; for purpose of supervision or consultation; or by previously obtained written permission. In a case involving more than one person (as student), written permission must be obtained from all legally accountable persons who have been present during the instruction before any disclosure can be made.
  5. We obtain written consent of students before audio and/or video tape recording or permitting third party observation of their private sessions.
  6. When current or former students are referred to in a publication, while teaching, or in a pubic presentation, their identity is thoroughly disguised.

SECTION 6: Assistant, Student, and Employee Relationships

As yoga teachers, we have an ethical concern for the integrity and welfare of our assistants, students, and employees. These relationships are maintained on a professional and confidential basis. We recognize our influential position with regard to current and former assistants, students, and employees, and avoid exploiting their trust and dependency. We make every effort to avoid dual relationships with such persons that could impair our judgment or increase the risk of personal and/or financial exploitation.

  1. We do not engage in harassment of any kind with assistants, students, employees or colleagues. Harassment is defined as, but not limited to, repeated comments, gestures and/or physical contacts as well as the use of private information to attempt to influence or pressure the person in any way.
  2. All forms of sexual behavior as defined in Section 4.5 with our assistants, students and employees are unethical.
  3. We advise our assistants, students, and employees against offering, or engaging in or holding themselves as competent to engage in, professional services beyond their training level of experience and competence.
  4. We do not harass or dismiss an assistant or employee, who has acted in a reasonable, responsible, and ethical manner to protect or intervene on behalf of a student or other member of the public or another employee.

SECTION 7: Inter-professional Relationships

As yoga teachers, we relate and cooperate with other professional persons in our immediate community and beyond. We acknowledge that we are part of a network of healthcare professionals and recognize the need to develop and maintain interdisciplinary and inter-professional relationships in a professional and appropriate manner.

  1. Knowingly soliciting another teacher’s student is unethical.
  2. Speaking of other teachers with disrespect is unethical.

SECTION 8: Advertising

All advertisements, including any announcement, public statement or promotional material made by us, or for us, for informing the public about our activities, service and/or events, should be carried out with the intention of helping the public make accurate, informed choices.

  1. We do not misrepresent our professional qualifications, affiliations and functions or falsely imply sponsorship or certification by any organization.
  2. Advertisements, announcements, brochures, etc. promoting our services describe them with accuracy and dignity. These promotional materials are devoid of exaggerated claims about the effects of yoga and are made or sent out to professional persons, prospective individual students, religious institutions, etc. only in non-invasive ways or in response to inquiries.
  3. We do not make public statements, advertisements, etc. which contain any of the following:
    1. A false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive or unfair statement.
    2. A false representation of a fact, or a statement that may mislead or deceive because it is removed from its original context or makes only a partial disclosure of relevant facts.
    3. A statement implying unusual, unique or one-of-a-kind abilities, including misrepresentation through sensationalism, exaggeration or superficiality.
    4. A statement concerning the comparable desirability of services offered by ourselves and others.

Source: The above is a revised version of the California Yoga Teachers Association Code of Ethics.  The full version can be referenced here