New graduates are often (mistakenly) overlooked when it comes to how we conduct our yoga or mind-body businesses.  They don’t have enough experience, we might assume, to know how to go about running a business.  But, I was recently reminded by a new grad that fresh eyes can sometimes see places in our systems that could use an upgrade. In fact, once I was that set of fresh eyes, and one of my experiences as a new professional has stayed with me and continues to inform me today:

I remember quite clearly when I was first completing my training co-op placement as a new personal trainer.  I was training in a gym that had been around for many years, and while doing a shift on ‘the floor’ I saw an older woman doing an exercise that is pretty risky and considered (for years) to be contraindicated.  I approached her and asked about the exercise, and she told me it was in her training program.  She showed me where that technique was listed on her training card, which had been programmed for her when she joined the gym.  It was decades old.  This lovely woman had joined the gym more than 30 years before, and since joining and receiving her training program a lot had happened in her life; having babies, getting injured, illness, changes due to aging, and recently she had undergone two hip surgeries.  In all that time, through all those changes to her health status, no one had talked to her about adjusting her program.  She was still doing exercises given to her in the 1970’s…and trust me we have learned a lot about what is safe and effective since the ’70s.  I remember this woman when I think about how many yoga or Pilates students walk into class each day having had a ‘minor’ car accident, fall, illness, joint pain, stress, dizziness, chest pain etc., and I know it can be a challenge as an instructor to keep informed of the changes that our students are experiencing (especially when they arrive late!) 

So, what do we do?  Well, new grad Rachel had a suggestion the other day to have a sign-in sheet that asks people if they have undergone a change in their health status, and I reckon this is a great idea.  Maybe you are way ahead of me here and already implementing a similar system in your classes, but I thought it deserved a shout out, and perhaps some further discussion.

Having a class sign is a great admin and accounting tool that helps you keep track of who has attended and who has not, who has paid in advance, who has paid on-site, and where each student is at in their pre-purchased class passes.  I would be simple to add a section where they sign off that they have had no changes to their health status, and informing them that they do need to discuss any changes with their instructor prior to class.  How about something simple like a header on your sign in form like this:

Hello yogis.  Please sign in before your class with your name and date, and please advise if there have been any changes to your health or wellness status, including falls, joint pain, sports injury, dizziness, chest pain, illness or injury.  If you prefer to discuss this with your instructor privately you are most welcome to do so before class.  Your safety and wellbeing in yoga is our top priority.

Remember the 7 key questions from the Participant Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PARQ), if the change in their health status ticks any of those boxes, they need to see their doctor before returning to class.  Don’t know what a PARQ is?  Check it out here,  you can download forms and add them to your forms toolbox for registration and health status checks.

If you are already implementing a risk-management system like this, please do email me at and I will share your ideas and experience in our next Grad Update so we can all work together to make yoga classes safe, effective, and inspiring!

Yoga Biz Tips # 5: 

Stay Informed.  Knowing what is happening with your clients is key to safety and risk-management, and helps your clients/students to know that you care about their wellbeing and that they have a role to play when it comes to keeping instructors informed of health changes.  

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