This month I wanted to write about consent cards, but in my aim to get this news update out in a timely manner, I’ll save the larger discussion for later. But if you are wondering what consent cards are, in brief, they are simple flip cards (paper, wood, etc) that each student places on their mat either in the Yes or No position to indicate their wishes to receive or not to receive hands on adjusts or assists during a movement. Consent cards work to ensure that those who don’t wish to be touched (for any reason) can have their wishes respected, while those who love to be touched can enjoy some hands on support and guidance during class.
The great thing about consent cards is that people can opt in or opt out without having to explain. I’ve heard from lots of students over the years that when approached for an adjustment, even when the teacher asks permission, they feel uncomfortable saying ‘no’, so they agree just to be, well, agreeable. And, with an increase in awareness of adjustments that, at best, make someone feel uncomfortable, or, at worst, injure, the consent card seems to be a simple but powerful tool to re-establish the awareness in class that each student can choose how to move their body, today, and every student has a right to choose when/how/or if they wish to receive assistance in movement.
Something that I personally love about the consent card – being wary of technical adjusts that might upset my tricky back, but loving a bit of massage – is that they can be flipped to yes or no at any point in class, so if someone (like me) doesn’t want technical adjusts during practice but would love a shoulder press or neck sweep before Savasana, they can tell you about it simply by flipping their card.
There are some great discussions happening now online in various yoga, movement, and trauma-sensitive discussions, particularly around how the use of consent cards might support greater safety, communication, agency, and trauma-sensitivity in your group classes. If you have some resources to share on this subject, we’d all love to hear about it!