These cards, as we will call them are placed at the top of a student’s mat so are easily sighted by a teacher as they move around a class room. It is typical practice in yoga culture that teachers will look to correct unsafe alignment with physical hands-on touch, or encourage deepening and opening of a student’s asana expression.  Depending on each teacher, studio culture, style of yoga and general etiquette the ‘consent’ standards between a teacher and student can be vary different, especially around the world. 

Imagine the responsibility for a teacher in large studios like The Yoga Barn in Bali managing this in each and every class with different nationalities, languages and non-native English speakers. It is important that teachers and students feel safe and listened to.  

The Yoga Barn seeks student consent.

This October the The Yoga Barn in Ubud introduced these Touch Consent Cards for all teachers in their seven tropical set Bali yoga studios. With an international teaching faculty, and its reputation as an epicentre for Yoga and the healing arts in Asia, the ‘Yes, No’ flip cards were welcomed. It spells out that mindfulness and respect are at the core of the brands community and family values. 

And without making light of industry conversations that share deeper implications, these fun easy to use cards are a quick and effective option for yoga teachers to get immediate feedback. Bali yoga classes are full of passionate yogis practicing in large community sized studios so it eradicates potential for grey areas.

Bali Yoga Classes

The purpose of this article is to shine a light on this conversation and conscientious step to empower the student. This new duty of care option is just another part of the student experience and advocates adoption of it, or similar practices in other studios. 

Where language is a barrier, the ‘Yes, No’ consent cards can be understood simply as a request for ‘YES, I am open to being approached for hands-on physical adjustments’ or the reverse ‘NO, means please don’t touch me’.

Should you consider ‘Touch Consent Cards’ for your studio?

The Yoga Barn highlights some keys notes to introducing the cards that might be helpful to studio owners or retreat facilitators reading this review. Flip yoga ‘Touch Consent Cards’ offer:

  • A clear and unambiguous message where inappropriate touch cannot be ignored. 
  • Autonomy: the student need not explain, justify and defend their choice over being touched or their preferred sense of personal space.
  • A decentering of authority of the yoga teacher and empowerment for the student. Independence (Kaivalya) is the goal of yoga after all. 
  • They offer a level of emotional, as well as physical protection. 
  • Can be an effective tool for self-reflection that can aid a student’s yoga practice. 

Yoga Industry Review

An article that surfaced in The New York Times, November 8, 2019, ‘Yoga is finally Facing Consent and Unwanted Touch’ was an interesting and poignant read. It highlighted how the industry is being called into modern times. The author of the article after questioning hundreds of yogi’s raised how it is time to bridge the gap from traditional paradigms of Yoga/Spirituality frameworks into the modern age. Proposing that the student needs to have a voice, and consent chips and cards were becoming practical tools for change. 

Physical touch is not all bad

But as some sentiments for physical adjustments are being called into practice we wanted to highlight positive feedback from our peers for hands-on teaching methods. Many advanced and long-time practitioners share that adjustments carry enormous value and levels of elevation. The growth, expertise and sincerity being offered in these teaching situations is welcomed and transformative on a spiritual path. 

Bali Yoga Shop sells ready kits with instructions

So with all this in mind, if you are cognisant of your students' rights and feel led by intuition to pick up some ready-made Touch Consent Cards then it has been made easy. You can pick some up at the Bali Yoga Shop stores (one being at Lower Reception of The Yoga Barn) and other locations around Ubud. 

If you are interested in finding out more about The Yoga Barn’s – Studio Guidelines and Etiquette feel free to read on here.