Legislation Update for Massachusetts Members
Published: April 25, 2019
Yoga Alliance has been monitoring legislation pending in the Massachusetts legislature that may affect or be of interest to our community. We have also been in contact with state legislators and decision makers to educate them on the practice of yoga and advocate on your behalf. We are writing this note to provide details regarding two particular bills in the Bay State.
Bodyworks Legislation (S. 168)
As you may know, at the start of this session, S. 168, a bill to regulate “bodywork,” “bodyworks,” or “bodywork therapy,” was introduced. The laudable goal of the bill is to stop sexual exploitation and human trafficking through illicit facilities masquerading as legitimate businesses. The bill would require licensing of bodywork practitioners and schools and create a new board to administer requirements for bodywork and massage practitioners and schools. Versions of this legislation has been considered in previous legislative sessions, and there have been questions regarding whether it will affect yoga practitioners and instructors in Massachusetts.
Yoga Alliance has been in contact with the bill sponsors and others to learn more. It is our understanding that the sponsors of S. 168 do not intend for the bill to apply to the instruction and practice of yoga. In other words, they do not view yoga to be a form of “bodywork” for purposes of this bill.
S. 168 has been referred to the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. Over the coming weeks and months, we will continue to closely monitor this legislation and work to ensure that the bill language is clear and does not create unintended consequences for the yoga community.
Complementary and Alternative Health Care Services Legislation (S.665/H.3660)
The legislature is also considering a bill (S.665/ H.3660) to exempt holistic practitioners (i.e., Reiki, qigong, herbalists) from state medical licensing laws. The bill is designed to alleviate concerns that providers of complementary and alternative health care may be construed as practicing medicine without a license. To do this, the bill would create an exemption to medical licensing laws for non-invasive complementary and alternative health care practitioners who avoid a specific list of prohibited acts — such as puncturing the skin or administering prescription drugs, provided the practitioner makes a standard disclosure to clients — including contact information, education and training, and the nature of the services to be rendered — before delivering services.
S.665/ H.3660 has been referred to the Joint Committee on Public Health. Health Freedom Action Massachusetts, an organization working to advance this bill, is organizing an advocacy event on April 25th. For more information on the organization’s efforts, please contact Carol Bedrosian at