British Columbia

'Consent cards' for hands-on adjustments coming to Victoria Yoga Conference

'Consent cards' are being introduced at the Victoria Yoga Conference. The card lets practitioners indicate whether they are comfortable with a hands-on adjustment.

People may not want to be touched because of trauma, injury or comfort level with instructor, says organizer

'Consent Cards' were designed to give yoga practitioners an easy way to opt-in or opt-out of hands-on adjustments (Carolyne Taylor)

Yoga practitioners at the Victoria Yoga Conference will have a clear way of indicating whether they are comfortable having a hands-on adjustment from an instructor.

"Consent cards" are being introduced at this year's annual gathering.

Carolyne Taylor, the creator and producer of the yoga conference, says the cards allow practitioners to clearly express their preferences.

"There are a number of reasons why someone might not want any kinds of adjustments or hands-on applications in a yoga class," Taylor said.

"One could be that they suffered some trauma in their past. Another reason might be they are overcoming an injury or they might just not know that teacher."

"Consent cards" have a double-sided flip image, with one side stating, "Yes, I welcome physical adjustments," while the other side reads, "No, I am taking care of myself today."

'Consent cards,' designed by Victoria writer Danielle Pope, are going to be used at the fifth annual Victoria Yoga Conference. (Michelle Pichert)

Practitioners place the card in front of their mat to indicate whether they are comfortable with adjustments.

"It allows them to make an informed choice from day to day and then the teacher can see that in front of the mat. There is no calling someone out in a class. It is very subtle and very clear," Taylor said.

Sarah Holmes de Castro is trained in trauma-sensitive yoga. She says she supports the idea.

As the director of programs at Yoga Outreach, she oversees volunteer yoga instructors who work in mental health and addictions settings.

The producer of the Victoria Yoga Conference says that the reaction to the 'Consent Cards' has been overwhelmingly positive. (Carolyne Taylor)

"Some people love touch, and for some people it can be triggering, especially if there is no clear consent given," Holmes de Castro said.

"Sometimes in yoga classes instructors are roaming around the class space, placing hands unannounced, they are adjusting without necessarily checking in first.

It can mean that the person can spend the entire class tracking where the teacher is, rather than their own practice."

Approximately 800 people are expected to attend the conference, which runs from February 10 to 13, and they have all been sent an email with information about the cards.

Taylor says response to the cards has been overwhelmingly positive so far.