Taking a Stand for Public Health: A Yoga Teacher’s Pledge to Covid-19 Safety

YOGA TEACHERS

Even as we exceed 2.5 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide, the insidious spread of denial and disinformation continues in certain yoga and wellness circles, along with a cynical backlash that has mischaracterized our field of predominantly independent, local teachers as a hotbed for such harm.

We invite you to join us in this commitment to public health. Let’s reaffirm for our communities that the first priority of our practice is collective care.

As Teachers of Yoga:

-We affirm our commitment to the safety and well-being of the most vulnerable members of our community.

-With deference to local public health guidelines and scientific consensus around airborne transmission, we pledge to put people before profits in exercising the utmost caution and care around timelines and best practices for teaching in person.

-We will engage in ongoing transparency regarding risks, expectations, and protocols for those who may choose to return to practice in person, while continuing to offer virtually accessible options to the best of our abilities, until vaccine distribution has been sufficient to provide herd immunity.

-We refrain from giving medical advice and, when asked, encourage students to consult with local public health officials and their doctors regarding the vaccine.

-We reject QAnon and all sources of Covid disinformation.

-We hold gratitude for all health care and essential workers for the risks and sacrifices they endure to remain in service to our communities.

-We grieve with those who continue to face profound loss during this crisis, and commit to do all we can to prevent further suffering and loss of loved ones.

-We pledge to do all we can to survive this pandemic, together.

Please sign and share. Thank you for adding your voice!

 


For those who have already added your names, thank you! We now have over 100 signers from across the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. Sadly, many who attempted to sign did not have their names recorded. (This glitch may be related to invalid email addresses, though it remains unclear.) Regardless we are hoping to continue building momentum this week, and we hope you will consider sharing within your networks once again. There are many like-minded yoga teachers out there who have not yet been reached. This topic can stir controversy, and we appreciate your joining us in putting yourselves out there!

Speaking of controversy, we’ve had some interesting conversations in the past week, and I spent some time addressing the distinction between giving medical advice and communicating transparently about business decisions necessitated by the pandemic, among other things. If you are interested, please read below:

Attempts to engage ethically with the world generally do not pretend to be unbiased, and that certainly was not our aim with this pro-public health statement. This current context, which is unprecedented in many of our lifetimes, has some unique challenges. It exists within a paradigm of polarization and starkly contrasting interpretations of reality, leadership, and individual responsibility. It is also a crisis involving human health, which makes choosing and communicating an ethical & transparent business plan while remaining within scope (and with awareness of systemic conditions that have some communities rightly wary of vaccination) particularly challenging.

Because the pandemic has required significant alterations to business policies and protocols, communicating with students and clients about public health issues has become both inevitable and necessary during this time. It IS possible to communicate transparently about risks, and to acknowledge the existence and aims of the vaccination campaigns underway, without advising individual students in a particular direction (and without requiring a vaccine, which raises many questions about ethics and discrimination). This all exists in delicate balance, but perhaps also in familiar terrain for those of us who view working skillfully with potentially oppositional dynamics as a central element of yoga itself.

Thus far we had chosen to lead simply by example and tend to our local communities. And yet, in light of the vocal minority of yoga teachers continuing to undermine public health initiatives, and the distorted impression of our field this chaos gives to our wider communities, remaining silent did not feel like the right choice at this time, in spite of the challenges of speaking out online.

This statement has been unapologetically informed by widely accepted public health data, and we do not seek to persuade or convince those who choose to find their information elsewhere. Rather, we wanted to offer an opportunity for yoga teachers who share these perspectives and values to unite our voices in defining our response to this crisis, in support of collective care. We hope that anyone who feels so moved will sign and share the pledge!

 

 

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About the Author

Kate Pousont Scarborough is a yoga teacher and studio owner, a Zero Balancing practitioner, a lover of movement and nature, and a dedicated cheerleader for her college-aged son. She lives with her partner in Western Massachusetts.

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