Sexual Misconduct Statement
Updated December 2019
Conversation surrounding sexual misconduct in the workplace and beyond has rightfully loudened in recent years. Sadly, we acknowledge the yoga community has not been immune to this troubling pattern. In a space where we as schools and teachers welcome trusting practitioners, some have taken advantage.
While Yoga Alliance does not have the same authority or resources to investigate or stop criminal activity as law enforcement agencies do, we recognize our responsibility to take action. Our continuous mission is to promote quality, safety, accessibility, and equity – as well as respect – in yoga teaching, both within our Yoga Alliance membership and the broader yoga community.
With this in mind, our stance is clear. We condemn the physical, mental, emotional, financial, and/or spiritual abuse of any yoga student and believe every human being has the right to practice yoga free from abuse, harassment, and manipulation.
In February 2018, through the assistance of RAINN, we strengthened our overall Grievance Policy and introduced a separate Sexual Misconduct Policy. We also up-leveled our internal accountability capabilities by investing in continued training for our personnel and refining our reporting and investigating processes to ensure due process.
And beginning in February 2020, all Yoga Alliance members will abide by a shared ethical commitment. Appropriately, this will include an enhanced Code of Conduct, which will outline acceptable behavior with respect to teacher-student relationships and the need for explicit consent prior to hands-on assists and adjustments. Additionally, Registered Yoga Schools (RYSs) will put into effect their own Codes of Conduct as well as well as their own policies, which will include but are not limited to: general grievances, anti-harassment, and sexual misconduct policies.
We can confirm that we have suspended and revoked credentials under our new policy.
Yoga Alliance acknowledges that its role does not simply end at policy creation. We recognize we are uniquely positioned to convene open and transparent conversations within the yoga community about sexual misconduct and inappropriate touch and are thoughtfully, critically, and actively working to do just that.
Past work includes the support of the Yoga Service Council’s 2017 publication, Best Practices for Yoga with Sexual Trauma Survivors. In addition, we hosted a podcast with RAINN, participated in conference panels on consent, and disseminated consent chips (or “assist chips”) at numerous in-person events over the past two years.
Our Sexual Misconduct Resource Center soon will be enhanced to include tools and guidelines for schools, teachers, and practitioners. Additionally, we will convene community conversations around the power dynamics that exist in yoga in both obvious and subtle ways and dive further into how we can elevate this dialogue to one of empowerment.
Yoga Alliance is committed to educating and evolving the profession of yoga and to supporting survivors of sexual misconduct. We will continue to work hard to promote respect and accountability in the yoga space and to enforce the high quality, safe, accessible, and equitable teaching of yoga.