Like any workplace, yoga studios must always have policies in place for dealing with harassment problems of a sexual, verbal, or physical nature. These policies should be made available to every yoga teacher and student that participates in classes at the studio. Having these policies already written out and readily available will ensure that appropriate action is taken swiftly if a harassment issue does occur between teachers or students at the yoga studio. If a problem does arise during yoga practice, the policies in place will ensure they can be handled efficiently, quickly, and legally. Every yoga studio should have some concrete policies in place to avoid confusion and disorder when dealing with harassment situations.
Dress Code and Appropriate Attire
Since yoga is performed in fitness clothing and form-fitting attire, a dress code should be in place so that outfits are always appropriate for the classroom. This consideration is especially important for yoga studios that offer hot yoga classes. In these classes, light clothing that shows exposed skin is a must. This will keep students cool and comfortable. However, even in this situation, it is important to have an appropriate dress code. Clothing should not be too revealing, and it should be appropriate for the age group of the class. Make sure to be specific in the dress code. If your yoga studio doesn’t allow bra tops or speedos, make this known before your students come to class. All new students should be provided with a written dress code so they can be ready for their first class. Be prepared to enforce the dress code at all times, even if that means asking a student to return home to change. Do not waiver from your dress code or exempt certain students – this will only cause confusion and resentment.
In yoga practice, teachers may want to physically adjust their students in order to correct their body placement in a pose. However, before ever touching a student, ask if they are comfortable with it. Some students will not want to be touched. As an instructor, you need to respect the wishes of the student and find other ways to correct them if they do not wish to be touched at any time. Verbal corrections and instructor demonstrations can be alternatives to physical adjustments made in the classroom. It is also important to make sure students do not try to physically correct each other in the class, even if they are an experienced yoga practitioner. As the teacher of the class, you are the only one with the authority to perform physical corrections during the session. Allowing students to correct each other may lead to injuries, harassment complaints, and other issues.
A Quiet Environment
The yoga studio should be a place to focus solely on the practice. By ensuring the space remains quiet and contemplative, you can reduce harassment complaints. Make sure students know that they should not bring loud or disruptive devices into the studio. This means no cell phones, tablets, or MP3 players. To ensure your students remember this rule, post signs outside the yoga studio for them to see upon entrance. If a student is being disruptive, use gentle reminders to ensure the studio stays a comforting and meditative space.
Even with the best preventative measures, harassment can occur anywhere. Having policies in place from the get go will ensure that any problems can be resolved as quickly as possible, without damage or trauma caused to the student, teacher, or studio. Whether you are a brand new teacher or an established instructor, take the time to set up and review your harassment policies on a regular basis in order to ensure you are prepared for every potential issue.
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