Update on the MA Act Regulating Alternative Healing Therapies
Last Updated: December 9, 2021
Dear Massachusetts Yoga Community,
Over the past several years, the Massachusetts legislature has been considering passage of a bill designed to prevent human trafficking in the state. The piece of legislation, previously known as the “bodyworks” bill, is now known as An Act Regulating Alternative Healing Therapies. Today, there are concurrent proposed bills in both the Senate and the House (SB.221/HB.350).
Since its introduction, Yoga Alliance has been monitoring the bill’s progress. While we support the admirable goals of the bill, we have concerns about the potentially broad nature of the regulation leading to unintended consequences for yoga providers and other small business owners. For this reason, we are laying the groundwork to officially propose to the state that yoga should not be regulated under this bill, should it become law.
This year, Shannon Roche, Yoga Alliance Chief Executive Officer, has spoken with leading members of the Massachusetts legislature on behalf of the yoga community to educate and explain the negative impacts this bill would have on the local yoga community. The conversations have been positive, and next week Shannon will be providing testimony to the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure. Our goal is and has been to help the committee members and their staffs understand why the yoga community should not be regulated as part of this bill primarily, but not only, because:
- Yoga teaching is not a profession of concern regarding human trafficking;
- Our community has significant professional standards of education and safety and codes of ethics and conduct that we follow; and
- Over the past many years, we also have taken actions to share the healing benefits of yoga for survivors of trauma and sexual exploitation, including partnering with RAINN (The Rape Abuse Incest National Network) and other organizations to further our efforts towards this goal and strengthening professional codes of conduct and continuing education.
We also have expressed concern about potential unintended consequences stemming from the bill’s proposed regulatory framework. Specifically, the legislation would establish a regulatory board with the authority to set standards of conduct, continuing education, and application to entry for a large and diverse field of modalities and practices. We also have let the state know that as a standards-setting organization, we are prepared to continue sharing our experiences, lessons learned, and best practices that may be helpful as the Massachusetts legislature works to address the problems of trafficking and exploitation, while also supporting the needs and interests of the many legitimate businesses and practitioners operating successfully in the state.
As the legislative session progresses, we will continue to keep you up to date. Additionally, when the time comes to submit your points of view to state legislators, we will provide an easy means for members of the yoga community to do so. In the meantime, if you have any questions or would like to raise your hand to be a part of our state legislative activities, please send an email to email@example.com. In your email, we also ask that you share how the pandemic has impacted you as a yoga school or teacher. We will share these stories with members of the state legislature to provide additional insight into the current state of the local yoga community and further illustrate how the passage of this bill may compound the challenges yoga schools and teachers may already be facing.
Our goal is to support you in every way possible, and we will keep you posted on our efforts as they pertain to your livelihood and profession. Thank you for all that you do for your communities.
Your Yoga Alliance