COVID-19 Health Information

Since mid-March when Yoga Alliance issued its initial recommendations in response to the global pandemic, much more has been learned about how the novel coronavirus is transmitted and how to protect against its spread. Public health experts’ recommendations at the local, national, and global levels have evolved. This guidance varies depending on local conditions and infection rates, current knowledge of where different activities fall along the risk spectrum, and local communities’ collective participation in risk mitigation strategies. All these points must be used together to protect against the most harmful outcomes to individual and community health, the economy, and our overall wellbeing.

In the face of this crisis, the yoga community has demonstrated innovation and resilience while making many sacrifices. We have seen different approaches from yoga educators in different settings all united by the goal of offering yoga as a resource when it is so very needed, while prioritizing the safety of each member of the yoga community. Yoga professionals are pairing credible public health resources with a community-oriented mindset to adapt how and where they teach—whether that means offering classes and teacher trainings online, outdoors, or in settings that follow the recommended protocols for risk mitigation.

Given the high variability of the COVID-19 situation worldwide, we recommend that yoga professionals commit to ALL of the following actions as a guide to their decision-making on when and how to offer ongoing yoga teaching and training:

  • Commit to the yogic principle of ahimsa (non-harm), acknowledging that in facing a global pandemic, the choices we make as individuals can cause harm to others.
  • Use credible public health information resources on how to prevent transmission and minimize risks.
  • Review and stay up to date on local COVID-19 guidance and on transmission rates in your community.

Our collective ability to work through this crisis requires us to use scientifically sound and credible sources, to be attentive to the needs within our communities, and to recognize how deeply we are interconnected: we are dependent on each other’s actions and on how we choose to care for one another, now perhaps more than ever.

COVID-19 Information Resources

There is a lot of fast-moving information out there with respect to the novel coronavirus, the disease it causes (COVID-19), and general health and safety measures. As a result, it can be hard to keep track of the most recent and credible information.

Yoga Alliance leans on and recommends the World Health Organization (WHO) for the most up-to-date global guidance, given how quickly the information on this situation is evolving. The WHO provides Coronavirus disease advice for the public on how to protect yourself and others, and helps identify and correct myths related to COVID-19.

We also use and recommend the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center and its global tracker, which is following the cases of the coronavirus around the world. 

Resources for Yoga Professionals

To protect the health and wellbeing of all members of the yoga community, the resources contained below should be used together with an overall commitment to ahimsa (non-harm), local guidance, and credible information sources on how to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Please refer to the World Health Organization (WHO) for more recommendation information.

GENERAL GUIDANCE

The WHO recommends the following precautions to protect yourself and to protect others from COVID-19:

  • Practice physical distancing
  • Wear a mask
  • Keep rooms well ventilated
  • Avoid crowds
  • Clean your hands
  • Cough into a bent elbow or tissue
  • Monitor the local guidance for where you live/work

These are important steps to take in daily life, for your own health and for the health of the community. With respect to yoga teaching and training, we are offering some further details on ways to take these precautions.

STAFF, TEACHERS, and VOLUNTEERS

Yoga Alliance recommends decisions regarding in-person yoga instruction be made based on an overall commitment to ahimsa (non-harm), local guidance and local conditions, and credible information sources (such as the WHO) to protect the health and wellbeing of all members of the yoga community.

  • Set up a COVID-19 response team that meets regularly to share information reports from federal, state, and local resources and to manage various contingency plans, including staff (including teachers and volunteers) and practitioner communication 
  • Create a response matrix based on transmission scenarios in your region
  • Create a policy for mask use based on local guidance, credible information resources, and ahimsa: protecting the community by minimizing the risk of transmission
  • Ensure that your work-from-home policies (telework, remote meeting options, etc.) are flexible 
  • Ensure that your sick leave policies are also flexible and consistent with public health guidance 
  • Encourage staff, teachers, and volunteers to work from home or take a sick day if they are sick 
  • Do not require a healthcare provider’s note for staff, teachers, and volunteers who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work 
  • Maintain confidentiality of people with confirmed COVID-19 
  • Maintain flexible policies that permit staff, teachers, and volunteers to stay home to care for a sick family member 
  • Empower staff, teachers, and volunteers to ask sick practitioners not to practice in the studio if they are showing symptoms, or to self-quarantine if they have been exposed to COVID-19
  • Encourage staff, teachers, and volunteers to practice good health habits, such as getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing their stress, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating nutritious foods 
  • Don’t propose to know everything; stick to the basics 
STUDENTS and PRACTITIONERS

Yoga Alliance recommends decisions regarding in-person yoga instruction be made based on an overall commitment to ahimsa (non-harm), local guidance and local conditions, and credible information sources (such as the WHO) to protect the health and wellbeing of all members of the yoga community.

  • Proactively communicate with your students about what you are doing to increase your studio cleaning and other precautions, including emails, social media posts, and in-studio flyers 
  • Encourage students to remain at home if they are sick or have been advised to self-quarantine, but to do a home practice if they feel up to it to help manage their stress 
  • Ask students to leave if they cough or sneeze in class, offering them class credit for a later date 
  • If possible, offer some or all of your yoga classes online, either live or as recorded content
  • Reduce or pause the use of studio-provided props in your in-studio classes*
  • Encourage students to bring their own props with them, including not just mats but belts, blocks, and bolsters* 
  • If still offering studio-provided props, ask students to use a tissue between them and eye pillows, or encourage them to bring a clean pillowcase from home to use over blankets or bolsters*
  • Reduce or pause the use of physical assists in your in-studio classes 
  • Limit or reduce the number of students per class to allow for more space between mats 
  • Require advanced class sign up, if possible 

*Though these safety precautions do not address primary COVID-19 transition routes as they are now understood, they are still best practice recommendations for general overall health and hygiene, and they can mitigate the spread of many types of germs spread through physical contact. 

TEACHING SPACES

Yoga Alliance recommends decisions regarding in-person yoga instruction be made based on an overall commitment to ahimsa (non-harm), local guidance and local conditions, and credible information sources (such as the WHO) to protect the health and wellbeing of all members of the yoga community.

The WHO offers the following advice on how to make your environment safer:

  • Avoid spaces that are closed, crowded, or involve close contact.
    Outbreaks have been reported in crowded indoor settings where people gather and talk loudly, shout, breathe heavily, or sing.Risk of transmission increases in crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces where infected people spend long periods of time together in close proximity. In these settings, the virus appears to spread by respiratory droplets or aerosols more efficiently.
  • Meet people outside.
    Gathering outdoors is safer than gathering indoors, particularly if indoor spaces are small and lack organic outdoor air flow. See the WHO’s
    Q&A on small public gatherings for more detailed guidance.
  • If unable to avoid crowded or outdoor settings:

If you are a yoga business, here are a few action items you can engage to utilize this guidance:

  • Offer classes outdoors if/where applicable, keep classroom or studio windows open if/where applicable, and stay abreast of all ventilation and air conditioning recommendations
  • Maintain physical distance between and among staff and students as much as possible. Consider marking mat placement on floors and establishing clear boundaries in communal or main entrance locations
  • Require all staff and students to wear masks when appropriate
STUDIO and PERSONAL HYGIENE

Yoga Alliance recommends decisions regarding in-person yoga instruction be made based on an overall commitment to ahimsa (non-harm), local guidance and local conditions, and credible information sources (such as the WHO) to protect the health and wellbeing of all members of the yoga community.

Masks:

  • Normalize wearing masks in your communal areas and spaces in which social distancing or proper indoor ventilation is not an option.
  • There are two different types of masks recommended, depending on the risk factors of the person who will wear it:
    • If you are not in a particular risk group, wear a fabric mask to mitigate day-to-day risk.
    • Wear a surgical mask if you have a heightened risk factor, such as:
      • An age of 60+
      • The presence of underlying medical conditions
      • If you are feeling unwell
      • If you are looking after an ill family member

Supply Maintenance:

  • Stock and maintain your bathroom(s) with soap and water 
  • Stock and maintain your studio(s) with at least 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer 
  • Stock and maintain your studio(s) with disinfectant wipes 
  • Stock and maintain your studio(s) with tissues 
  • Offer no-touch receptacles where possible

Cleaning:

  • Clean the bathroom(s) multiple times each day with a disinfectant cleaner and disposable paper towels or wipes 
  • Clean the studio floors after each class 
  • Wipe telephones, keyboards, door handles, bathroom faucets, front desk surfaces, and anything that staff, teachers, or students commonly touch 
  • Thoroughly wipe all rental mats and other props before and after each use 
  • Wash blankets and bolsters more frequently

If you’re not feeling well:

  • Learn the symptoms of COVID-19. These include fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Other less common symptoms include loss of taste or smell, aches and pains, headache, sore throat, nasal congestion, red eyes, diarrhea, or a skin rash.
  • Stay home and self-isolate until you feel 100% better. Consider calling your healthcare provider to go over your symptoms and identify someone who can bring you food and supplies as needed while you isolate. If you must leave your home, wear a medical mask to avoid potential transmission.

Seek immediate medical attention if you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

GUIDEBOOKS and SIGNAGE — Use our yoga-specific guidance booklets and pre-made flyers!

Yoga Alliance recommends decisions regarding in-person yoga instruction be made based on an overall commitment to ahimsa (non-harm), local guidance and local conditions, and credible information sources (such as the WHO) to protect the health and wellbeing of all members of the yoga community.

These materials are recommended for communities in which in-person yoga instruction is safe, appropriate, and in accordance with local guidelines.

Guidebook for Re-Opening and Recovering: US (pdf), International (pdf)
Compiled guidance to support yoga businesses and yoga professionals in the United Stated
in their transitions back to in-person instruction.

Cough-and-Sneeze Ettiquite (pdf)  |  Wash Your Hands (pdf)  |  Feeling Under the Weather? (pdf)

  • Post signage at the front desk regarding the request to refrain from practicing at the studio if under the weather or if recently exposed to COVID-19
  • Post signs in each bathroom and around the studio with respect to cough-and-sneeze etiquette (using a tissue and throwing it away, using upper sleeve if a tissue is not available, refraining from touching your mouth, nose, and eyes, etc.)
  • Post signs in each bathroom about washing hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Post signs requiring masks and encouraging physical distancing wherever appropriate to minimize risk of transmission