As more and more studios begin opening up, yoga teachers everywhere are finding ways to navigate these new yoga studio safety changes effectively.
beYogi conducted a survey asking yoga teachers about the state of the yoga industry recently. One of the questions they asked was, “What is your biggest concern/fear as a teacher?”
The options listed were:
- prevalence of virtual offerings
- student fear of personal touch/space
- quality instruction
- student safety
- financial security given shifting class rates
- professional job security given studio closings
- social media presence and management
beYogi found that 47% more teachers chose "student safety" over "job security". This certainly shows - the dedication yoga teachers have to ensure their student's safety and also the magnitude of changes that had to occur in order for yoga studios to operate.
Some Of The Changes They Have Implemented Include:
No Hands On Assists Or Limited Hands On Assist:
While most studios have done away with hands on assists in general, some studios with small class sizes have implemented very limited hands on assists.
Safety protocols for hands on assists include:
- Consent first. Make sure each student is okay with hands on assists. Before touching a student, check for consent from that individual student again. Empower your students with choice. These are strange times and they may change their minds after class begins.
- Hand sanitizer in between each student. Teachers who give hands on assists must use hand sanitizer and let it dry completely before each hands on assist.
- Mask wearing. The studios that allow hands on assists enforce mask wearing for both the teacher and student when giving hands on assists.
- No assists that involve hands near face or neck. The majority of the hands on assists done are for student safety, rather than getting the students “deeper” into a pose. They also specify not to touch faces or necks. No more Savasana neck massages sadly.
- While the safest option is still no contact, limited hands on assists with strict safety measures enforced are a part of the new normal for small studios with limited class sizes.
Mask Wearing Within All Common Areas Of The Studio:
- State mandates require mask wearing in all common areas of studios. Once students are on their mats, some studios allow for students to remove their masks during their practice. While others ask that students stay masked throughout their practice.
Up-leveled Cleaning Protocols:
- Most studios have either eliminated or limited the availability of shared props and rented yoga mats.
- Those that choose to keep supplying props have been fully sanitizing props in between classes.
- This means longer time in between classes so that the space and any used props can be fully sanitized, and dry completely before students step foot into the studio for the next class.
- Because of these strict sanitization protocols, most studios have fully eliminated the use of shared blankets, bolsters, straps, and any props that need to be washed in a washing machine before the next student can use the prop.
Limited Class Sizes:
- In order to safely distance apart yoga mats, studios have had to strictly limit their class sizes.
- For most studios, this means that reservations are required to attend classes as many classes fill up quickly.
- Rooms that can usually hold 30 people may be limited to 12 or 15 students in order to accommodate a full 6 feet between students.
- Studios that have the capability to offer outdoor classes, either in their own outdoor spaces or in nearby parks, have been offering these outdoor classes.
- Outdoor classes allow for more students often because it’s easier to distance apart.
- This is also safer because fresh air is constantly available.
- According to the EPA: “There is growing evidence that this virus can remain airborne for longer times and further distances than originally thought. In addition to close contact with infected people and contaminated surfaces, there is a possibility that spread of COVID-19 may also occur via airborne particles in indoor environments, in some circumstances beyond the 2 m (about 6 ft) range encouraged by social distancing recommendations."
- This makes socially distanced outdoor yoga classes an even safer option for studios that are able to offer them.
- Many yoga teachers and studios alike have been offering virtual yoga classes and workshops - many since the very beginning of quarantine.
- This allows students who are at higher risk to maintain their practice and their connections while staying completely safe at home.
- Virtual offerings are still hands down THE safest way to continue teaching and practicing yoga while the world works through this virus.
- Studios have had quite a bit of success in offering hybrid classes. These are offered live AND virtually at the same time. This can be a challenge to navigate for teachers, but ultimately a thoughtful offering for those students who have to be extra careful during these unprecedented times.
- Virtual classes at first may seem a bit disconnected, but teachers who encourage their students to keep their cameras on so they can give individualized instruction to students find that their students still have a great yoga practice. Before and after class staying on for a moment to chat with students is another way to foster that connection - even when you’re apart.