COVID-19 Health Information  

The global pandemic has created health and safety challenges for communities across the United States and around the world. 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 of 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. We remain committed to supporting the health and safety of our communities.

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 either help or harm others.
  • Use credible public health information resources on how to prevent transmission and minimize risks. Remain vigilant against the threat of misinformation and disinformation.
  • Follow state and local laws, and stay up to date on transmission rates in your community.

To work through this crisis, we must use scientifically sound and credible sources, be attentive to the needs within our communities, and recognize how deeply we are interconnected. Perhaps more than ever, we are dependent on each other’s actions and how we choose to care for one another.

 

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), general health and safety measures and the progress and potential for a COVID-19 vaccine. As a result, it can be hard to keep track of the most recent and credible information. Many of us are subject to potentially harmful misinformation and disinformation, which requires us to practice deliberate and on-going care, inquiry, and vigilance.

Given how quickly pandemic information is evolving, Yoga Alliance leans on and recommends the World Health Organization (WHO) for the most up-to-date global guidance. The WHO provides Coronavirus disease advice for the public on how to protect yourself and others, helps identify and correct myths related to COVID-19 and vaccines, and provides a useful resource for navigating misinformation and disinformation.

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. Taking one or some action is simply not enough. A perfect example of how all of these strategies work together (and why only partial prevention strategy does not suffice) is the Swiss Cheese Theory. We love this visual and find it extremely helpful to understand an otherwise nuanced concept.

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:

  • Wear a mask
  • Preserve and protect air quality and ventilation as much as possible
  • Practice physical distancing and avoid crowds
  • Clean your hands
  • Cough into a bent elbow or tissue
  • Monitor the local guidance for where you live/work
  • Review WHO’s vaccine information to inform your own vaccination plan

These are important steps to take for individual and communal health. With respect to yoga teaching and training, we are offering some further details on ways to take these precautions.

In addition to protecting yourself and others from COVID-19, the WHO encourages the public to learn how to spot misinformation and disinformation about the virus and COVID-19 vaccines. They have provided the short video “How to protect yourself in the infodemic” with simple steps to help keep yourself and your community safe and informed.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) COVID-19 VACCINE INFORMATION
We encourage you to review WHO’s vaccine information as knowledge for your own vaccination plan.

Vaccines protect communities from illness and save millions of lives each year. Several COVID-19 vaccine candidates have reported promising results, making it important to use credible information sources when making your vaccination plan. By getting vaccinated, you are taking two key steps in mitigating the spread of disease:

  1. Protecting yourself, and
  2. Protecting those around you—not everyone can get vaccinated, such as young babies, meaning they rely on protection against vaccine-preventable diseases from those who can get vaccinated.

If you have further questions or concerns regarding vaccines, refer to WHO for reliable vaccine and immunization answers.

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 
  • Refer to Yoga Alliance guidebooks on Best Practice Recommendations for Practicing Yoga during COVID-19

*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.

Preserve and Protect air quality and ventilation as much as possible

The main way coronavirus spreads is through air via respiratory droplets and aerosols. Outbreaks have been reported in crowded indoor settings where people gather and talk loudly, shout, breathe heavily, or sing. In these settings, the virus spreads much more efficiently farther than six feet from its source. Considering a huge piece of yoga practice is the breath—it is essential to establish proper ventilation and create a distance of 6-feet or more between individuals to mitigate this transmission pathway. Do this by:

  • Offering outdoor classes where and when applicable
  • Keeping classroom or studio windows open as much as possible
  • Speaking with the person who manages your mechanical HVAC system (if applicable) and educating yourself on all ventilation and air conditioning recommendations.
  • Consider the impact of social distancing on occupancy
  • Require all staff and students to wear masks when appropriate 

Practice Physical Distancing

Given the nature of this respiratory virus, the risk of transmission substantially grows between individuals who are crowded together in close proximity for extended periods of time—effectively, breathing each other’s air. Mitigate this risk by:

  • Avoiding teaching spaces that are closed, crowded, or involve close contact
  • Assessing how many individuals (staff and students) fit within your communal and studio spaces while maintaining physical distance (6-feet). Enforce this maximum number of bodies in your space as much as possible.
  • Physically measuring and clearly marking where individuals should stand in communal spaces, main entrance locations and place their mats in classrooms to ensure physical distance limitations.
  • Gathering outdoors, which 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.
  • Limiting the number of people in your studio at any given moment by taking advantage of pre-registration online services and platforms
  • Avoiding hands-on assists and traveling around the room during class as a teacher
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.

Wear a Mask:  

Masks are a key measure to reducing transmission rates and saving lives. Use masks successfully in yoga spaces by:

  • Normalizing the use of masks by requiring staff, teachers, students, and practitioners to wear protective masks to the extent possible.
  • Referring to credible health resources such as WHO recommendations for the basics of how to wear a mask, WHO Q&A on masks, and informative videos.
  • Choosing the appropriate type of mask. This depends on individual risk factors, the prevalence of the virus in your community, and the context the individual is in or plans to travel to. You can also review The Top Workout-friendly Face Masks for Your Gym Members shortlist, which shows top athleisure work-out friendly face masks.
  • Posting clear signage in high-traffic areas around your studio, space, and online platforms that clearly state your mask policy.
  • Consider providing masks to all students and practitioners at your workplace.
  • Sanitizing all reusable masks regularly and at a minimum between each use.

*Please note that the WHO does not recommend wearing masks while vigorously exercising. We strongly, urge you to refer to local government for guidance on the prevalence of the virus in your community to assess the need to wear a mask during yoga practice, as your yoga studio may have its own mask rules and requirements in place.

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.

Best Practice Recommendations For Practicing Yoga During COVID-19: US (pdf), International (pdf)
Compiled guidance to support yoga schools, businesses and professionals globally and in the United States for best practice recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

How To Wear a Fabric Mask (pdf) | How to Wear a Medical Mask (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