IAYT – Consented Touch in Yoga Therapy Training, Teaching, and Practice

INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF YOGA THERAPISTS


Released September 1, 2020

Consented Touch in Yoga Therapy Training, Teaching, and Practice

Touch can be a powerful tool in teaching and in healing and trans- formation. The use of touch is integral to many approaches to yoga therapy as a nonverbal means of assessment, instruction, and information-sharing. Individuals’ experiences with and feelings about touch are varied and informed by their cultural and societal

orientations, personal experiences, and other factors. When used skillfully, with clear boundaries, sensitive application, and good clinical judgment, touch has a legitimate and valuable role as a body-oriented mode of engagement.

IAYT-certified yoga therapists (C-IAYT) are ethically bound to employ touch appropriately and to abide by the scope(s) of practice that apply to them.

  1. General or specialized consent to touch must be in alignment with current laws in the locality of the yoga therapy practice. It is the responsibility of the practitioner to understand the specific legal requirements that apply to their practices.
  2. IAYT-accredited yoga therapy training programs and Approved Professional Development (APD) courses shall have in place procedures to obtain informed consent to touch. These procedures must apply to all faculty, staff, volunteers, and students.
  3. Informed consent is the practice of providing information to clients to enable them to make informed, reasoned decisions regarding the methods used during yoga therapy sessions.
    1. The intent of informed consent is to support legal and ethical rights of clients to direct what is happening to their bodies, to involve clients in their own care, and to provide opportunity for self empowered decision-making. 
    2. Informed consent may also function to reduce practitioner exposure to liability. 
    3. Informed consent may be verbal, written, or both. It is advised that written consent is given in the event of care being given over a long time period. Individual state and country laws may also dictate methods used to obtain consent. 
    4. To enable a client to provide informed consent to touch, the parameters and intentions for the use of touch must be clearly communicated in understandable language.
  1. Each training program or course must provide information on the intention of the use of touch in the approach, style, or method of yoga therapy being taught.
    1. The intention must be limited to guidance for correct understanding and use of yoga practices, improvement of proprioceptive awareness, and/or increasing self-awareness, emotional awareness, and other forms of interoceptive awareness.
  1. To ethically use touch, practitioners must have received training and mentorship or supervision on the use of touch within yoga therapy.
    1. Practitioners shall limit the manner of touch used in their clinical practices to that acquired through their training and professional experience.
  1. Regardless of whether verbal or written consent has been given, any action that puts at risk a student, practitioner, volunteer, or client’s body integrity is unconsented physical intrusion and a violation of human rights.
    1. All touch in reference to yoga therapy practice shall be nonsexual in intent. Sexual touch by a yoga therapist or client within the context of yoga therapy is always inappropriate. 

© International Association of Yoga Therapists, 2020. All rights reserved.