Article Archive > Recommendations for In-Person Yoga Teaching Related to COVID-19

Recommendations for In-Person Yoga Teaching Related to COVID-19

March 15, 2020

Thank you for the service and respite you are offering to your communities during this uncertain time.

The experience of this collective challenge continues to remind us of a truth that we know to be so central to this community: that we are all—truly and unequivocally—intertwined.

It’s with this truth, and our knowledge of how deeply committed you are to your communities, at the front of our minds that we are reaching out. Yoga Alliance has been tracking the spread of the novel coronavirus and its related disease, COVID-19, closely. We have been carefully weighing how best to support our members and their communities, and have watched as this disease has followed similar and predictable transmission patterns in each of the places it has taken hold. Along with you, we have been devastated as we have watched it overwhelm the health systems in some cities and countries, such as the announcements we have seen just this weekend, and felt our hopes soar when we have seen transmission rates flatten and remain manageable in others.

It is for this reason, and because we know how deeply committed to your communities you are, that Yoga Alliance is strongly recommending, for communities where social distancing has become required, recommended, or the community norm, that all in-person yoga instruction be canceled until the need for social distancing has passed, at which time we can evaluate the safety of resuming regular or modified practice schedules.

Why are we making this recommendation?

According to most public health experts, the U.S. is currently on a trajectory much more like that of the countries experiencing more devastating impacts. Many of you are likely reading the information being shared by public health experts in these countries with the same deep sense of concern that we are. You may also share our cautious optimism that this is not, however – yet – an unavoidable outcome. Many public health experts also agree that the U.S. and communities where the virus has not taken hold have a small window in which to take decisive steps to slow the virus’ spread and potentially see results closer to countries and communities that have moved quickly and decisively. Data have shown that, when communities make every effort to lower the rate by which the number of active cases grows and occur at one time, called “flattening the curve,” they are able to manage the spread without overwhelming the health care system, so that critically ill people can receive the treatment they need. When community behavior does not adjust to limit the spread of this virus, the case growth quickly spikes to the point that the health care system is unable to treat all the patients in need – including those with COVID-19 and other health conditions. Others’ experiences are showing us that, if communities do not take early, decisive action, local authorities will almost certainly impose mandatory widespread closures, and soon.

What about members’ businesses? We cannot afford to close.

We know that this is likely to cause extreme hardship for some yoga schools and studios. We don’t make this recommendation lightly, but do so in the interest of preserving public health, which we can only do together.

To be clear, we are fully supportive – now more than ever – of maintaining your yoga community through this time and to balance social isolation with support systems. We encourage all to continue pursuing innovative strategies that use various forms of communications technology to keep community strong when we need it most.

We are asking members to continue in their roles as community leaders, and do what is needed to slow the disease while there is still an opportunity to improve the outcome for your community. Yoga Alliance will focus on supporting you through this difficult transition..

What can Yoga Alliance do to help?

We encourage you to consider alternatives to offering in-person yoga instruction such as:

  • Offering classes online
  • Continuing your yoga education and training through online resources
  • Focus on building your next sequence, class, program or project
  • Acting in service of others - particularly more at-risk populations like the elderly or immune-compromised

We are committed to supporting you through this challenging time:

  • We have already collated resources to support members moving their teaching online on our COVID-19 resource page. We will continue to build out these and other support resources in the days ahead.
  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are exploring opportunities to address the most pressing needs of the yoga community.
  • Members of the Yoga Alliance and Yoga Alliance Foundation boards will hold an online sangha on Tuesday, March 17. Details will follow in a separate communication.

At this time, our community still has a chance to lead and do what we can to turn the tide of this disease and support our neighbors; if we do not, we predict and fear that our community members will find themselves in the same situation either way, but we will have left people in harm’s way. We also recognize that this measure is coming too late to be helpful to some of our members in the countries impacted earliest, and are revising our strategies and recommendations in response to those lessons learned. We apologize to those members who have been impacted already. We have much to learn about how to best support YA members in countries outside the U.S., and recognize this as work we must do and are committed to. Still, we recommend that the yoga community heed the lessons of Ahimsa, Asteya, and Satya, and do what we can to help from this point forward.

Your work and the service you offer to your community is more important than ever in these moments—thank you. We can’t think of a better example of the kind of community leadership we know is so important to our members than doing what we can to flatten the curve, together. We will be here to support you.

In service to you and to yoga,
Kerry & Shannon

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