Yoga Alliance recently became aware that the Massachusetts legislature is considering a bill, S.2621, which seeks to license “bodyworks therapists” and regulate the practice of “bodyworks” and the operation of “bodyworks schools.” This bill has the laudable goals of ensuring that bodyworks businesses are safe for workers and patrons, but, as described below, could have an unintended impact on the yoga community.
Under the bill, “bodywork” is defined as “the practice of a person who uses touch, words or directed movement to deepen awareness of patterns of movement in the body . . . .” This definition is very broad and could be interpreted by regulators to include yoga instruction and/or practice. It may also affect other yoga-related modalities.
S.2621 was passed by the Massachusetts Senate on July 19th and has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. On your behalf, we are gathering information related to this bill and sharing our concerns with lawmakers.
It is our goal to encourage the legislature to amend S.2621 to clarify that it is not intended to apply to yoga programs and providers, as well other yoga-related modalities. And, there is precedent for this action. A similar bill (S.907) has been previously considered in the legislature. S.907 explicitly exempts “the practice or instruction of yoga” from the definition of “bodywork,” clarifying the purpose of the bill while protecting the yoga community from unintended impacts.
If you share our concerns regarding S.2621, we ask you to help us in raising awareness and pushing for change. To do so, email the members of the House Ways and Means Committee who are currently considering the bill as soon as possible. We’re including a sample message, but feel free to express your specific concerns in your own words.
We are proud to stand with you to protect the interests of the Massachusetts yoga community. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will keep you apprised of the status of S.2621 as we learn more.
SAMPLE LETTER TO LEGISLATORS
Dear Representative _____________:
I am writing in regards to S.2621, a bill to regulate “bodywork therapy” currently under consideration in the House Ways and Means Committee.
I am a [insert your relationship to the yoga community (e.g., yoga instructor, yoga studio owner)], and I live and work in Massachusetts.
I appreciate the laudable goals of S.2621, but the bill’s definition of “bodywork” is too broad and could inadvertently subject teachers and businesses of yoga and other yoga-related modalities to licensure and other regulatory requirements. I support action to clarify the purpose of the bill and protect the yoga community from unintended impacts.
The legislature has previously considered alternate versions of this bill, such as S. 907, that explicitly exempt “the practice and instruction of yoga” from the definition of “bodywork.” We encourage the Committee to include this exemption when it considers S. 2621.
Thank you for your time and consideration.