Judging from the Instagram and Facebook feeds of those in the yoga community, it’s easy to tell: it’s retreat season. Seems like everyone knows someone who’s taking a trip to someplace warm and exotic to practice yoga, eat delicious and healthy food, and check out from the busyness of life for a period of time. To which I say, great idea! I myself am leaving in just a few days for the first of four yoga retreats that I’ve planned and organized for this year, and I am thrilled to be taking this time to focus on my yoga practice, enjoy the smell of the ocean during morning meditation, hang out with new friends, and relax after all the hard work and preparation that went into making it a reality.
If you are a studio or teacher who has organized a yoga retreat, then you already know all the work and time that is required to make it a successful trip. My question for you is, are you protected for what may come in this endeavor? (And I’m not talking about sunscreen or STDs - but please take all necessary precautions there, too!) Here are a few ideas I have to you get there.
A key element to the practice of yoga is being present - in the moment, in the breath, in the pose. YOU don’t want to disrupt your flow with anxious worries about the unknown.
While we can’t predict every mishap or surprise, I recommend you take the time to gather your thoughts, get your legal bits in order, and then you can enjoy the fruits of your labor, connect with your students, and relax.
The most common source of liability for yoga studios and teachers is from student injury during classes and workshops. As you can imagine, taking a group of students away on a trip opens up a whole different realm of possible liability, even more so once we go international. As a teacher and organizer, you want to make sure you assess and protect yourself against the risk of liability. The two most important ways to do this are through a well-drafted release from liability and insurance.
A release is an agreement that your students enter into when they sign up for the retreat, which releases you from liability should participants get hurt, sick, or suffer any other type of injury while they’re on retreat with you. Make sure that this form is enforceable and effective. If you are hosting your retreat through a yoga studio, you want to make sure that the studio’s insurance policy specifically covers its teachers, including when you’re on retreat. And if you’re the yoga studio sponsoring the trip, same goes.
In addition to being mindful of liability issues, communicating clearly with your retreat participants is crucial. A detailed description of your offering and your cancellation policies should also be included in your release.
As we all know, even if someone has signed a release, this doesn’t always prevent her from filing a lawsuit. A third and increasingly common way of protecting yourself or your studio is by forming a business entity which limits your personal liability, such as an LLC.
Contact me with questions about any of this, or if you’d like help with your releases and setting up your business entity. I can also work with you to organize your next retreat, so all you have to do is show up and teach. Let’s do margaritas on the beach after yoga.
LIVE YOUR PRACTICE