COVID 19: Information for our yoga community

25 March 2020

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UPDATED STATEMENT: 25 March 2020 

Good morning everyone.

Last night the Prime minister introduced further measures to restrict movement and slow the spread of Coronavirus.

I understand from your comments on social media and your emails, that many of our members are already operating within the scope of the changes announced. There was considerable detail in his speech. What I want to do is condense the details here as much as possible to what is relevant for us as a yoga community. 

Firstly, he clearly stated no yoga and only gave approval for outdoor bootcamps with a maximum of ten people. He was also clear that we should not congregate together in groups outdoors, “If you’re gathering together in a group, say 10 people, together, outside in a group, that’s not ok.”  

And he has asked all Australians to stay home, “stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary that you go out”.

“Going out for the basics, going out for exercise, perhaps with your partner or family members, provided it’s a small group.” 

The ABC has released a very concise summary of the various closures, which you can access here. (Please note, You will need to scroll right to the bottom of the page to access this list) 

Our position has not changed. Our best guidance is that we should not continue to teach face to face classes.  

Moving forward, our focus remains on continuing to support our members through this crisis. Our online discussion panel tomorrow (Thursday March 26 EST), will focus on Insurance, Finance and Communication considerations for your business. Please register here for free member access. You can also access last week’s panel discussion on here. 

Yesterday (March 24, 2020) we emailed out an adjustment to our teacher trainer guidelines for those of you running teacher training courses registered with us and wanting to take this teaching online.

We remain active across our social media feeds and are working behind the scenes to answer the questions coming up in your emails and calls and gathering the very latest useful information from credible sources to share with you.

Your support for each other (and the YA team) is wonderful. We are loving the positive comments and great links you are sending through. Keep them coming!

Thinking of you all, 

Janet Hopkins

CURRENT RESOURCES

Transcription Prime Ministers speech March 24, 2020: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/press-conference-australian-parliament-house-5

ABC News Stay at home chart, published March 25, 2020:https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-25/coronavirus-covid-19-modelling-stay-home-chart/12084144https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZrjuPXnu5I

Further information is available from the Department of Health Coronavirus (COVID-19) 

Requirements contained in the Prime Minister’s media statement March 22, 2020.

Support for sole traders included in new government stimulus the second stage of its economic plan 

Support available for small businesses

Coronavirus information and support for businesses

Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses (Note the case study here is a Yoga studio – but the information in the case study is now out of date with respect to the most recent changes)

Income support for individuals

_____________________________________________________

A message from the Yoga Australia President

24th March 2020

Dear Yoga Australia Community, 

Yesterday we received a number of phone calls asking how we can continue to teach yoga safely and within government guidelines. Can we teach outdoors? Can we continue Yoga therapy in a one on one setting? 

The YA team is doing their best to communicate with the government and working to get clear answers to those questions, but with policies changing rapidly and a government in crisis mode, these answers are taking time. Which means that, for now, we need to make good and wise decisions based on the information that we have. 

The number one guiding principle that underpins yoga across all lineages and styles is ahimsa – non harming. We as yoga teachers and leaders in our communities have always used this as our guide in all that we do. Now more than ever, in these unprecedented times, we are to use this as our number one principal. Each of us are leaders in our communities and that gives us a responsibility to our students. To do the right thing and not harm, so we can protect the vulnerable. 

To support ourselves in this time of decision making we have some Coronavirus facts that we currently know: 

This is a deadly virus. 

Cases are rising rapidly across Australia. 

A large portion of people do not show symptoms, but they will still be contagious. 

Social isolation is the only proven method of slowing it down. 

There is no vaccine or cure yet.

Given our principles and the above facts, the best guidance is that we should not continue to teach face to face classes. While it’s theoretically possible to teach an outdoor class without compromising social distancing, we are not confident it’s within the government guidelines. Even more critically – we can’t ensure the safety of participants. Just one attendee violating social distance could put our students and our communities at risk. 

That said, yoga is more important now than ever before. For many, social distance means isolation, mental health issues, loss of self esteem and other challenges. We have a role to play as leaders in this moment, but we will need to adapt to rise to it. 

As I write this, I know a number of our members are in the process of running their very first online class. Others are setting up phone groups and using social media to maintain connections to their communities and to provide much needed support to each other during this time. These are wonderful signs of agility and creativity. We as Australian yoga teachers have incredibly diverse skills and knowledge that we can all share, the opportunities to connect with each other is many – chanting, philosophy, business skills, meditations, and education and much more. 

The team at Yoga Australia are dedicated to creating forums and community space to support each other. Please share with the Yoga Australia team if you would like to contribute to keep us connected and supported. 

Let’s continue to support each other with compassion and empathy whilst understanding that many of our community are facing hardships, loss and uncertainty. Most importantly, let’s ensure we are being kind to ourselves, remembering self-care and personal practice to stay healthy, so we can support and serve all that we hold dear, through the wisdom of yoga.

We will continue to work to get clarity on what the new policies and rules mean for us all, what it formally allows and doesn’t, and share that information with you immediately. 

Namaste

Kym McDonald

President Yoga Australia

Statement: 23rd March 

On the afternoon of Friday 20 March  the Prime Minister announced further changes to the advice around indoor gatherings. Under this advice there must be no more than one person per four square metres of floor space. For yoga teaching spaces, this would be the equivalent of 2m spacing between mats.

We also note that in his speech, Mr Morrison referred to the need to further refine advice for particular regions and locations in Australia, to meet specific conditions in those areas. The latest information on Covid-19 can be found on the Australian Department of Health website.

In light of this advice, the Board of Yoga Australia has taken careful consideration of the concerns you have expressed as our community. We have heard your feedback around the uncertainty of this constantly changing situation and recognise the need to present a clear opinion at this time. We have been guided by our Statement of Ethics, in particular:

  • Ahimsa (Nonviolence and Compassion) – as yoga teachers we seek to do no harm to others and to act with care and compassion.

  • Aparigraha (Non-clinging) – as yoga teachers we practise the principle of nonattachment and generosity and we welcome change, acknowledging the natural abundance of life.

  • Sauca (Purity/Cleanliness) – as yoga teachers we cultivate purity of body, mind and environment. This includes fostering clarity of intention, ongoing self-care and a clean environment for yoga practice.

With this in mind, in order to support the health and wellbeing of our teachers, students and the local community, the Board of Yoga Australia encourages yoga teachers and studios to suspend group face to face classes until such time as the Australian Government changes its requirements. 

We are aware that this stance exceeds yesterday’s Government requirements and fully respect your position if you do choose to remain open. In this case, please ensure that you follow the guidance provided by the Department of Health and your relevant local and state authorities. You will find links and further information below. Yoga Australia is closely monitoring the situation and will continue to keep you updated via our website, newsletter, emails, Instagram and Facebook feeds.

We want you to know that you, our members, are at the centre of all we do. We hear your concerns; both about the need to earn a living and keep your businesses afloat, but also, the need to continue to support your communities, especially those frail and vulnerable participants who may not be able to access online options.

We exist because of you and we will continue to do our very best to support you through these very challenging times. No matter how you choose to proceed, we will be providing ongoing resources and education for our members to assist in your ability to continue to share yoga. Our first discussion panel titled ‘Taking Your Teaching Online’ will be available for download on Monday.

We are listening to you. Keep talking to us. We will be trying to connect directly with as many of you as possible. We can, and will, do our very best to adapt to your needs and help you with practical and credible information and peer to peer support. To that end, here is what members can expect in the next days and weeks:

  • A weekly discussion panel – each Thursday at 4pm EST.

Our first panel on Thursday 19 March covered how to take your yoga classes online, with practical and affordable options. Next week on Thursday 27 March, we will focus on financial survival, business adaptability and transformation including the Government’s Stimulus Package, tips on cash flow budgeting and insurance information. These panels are free to members, can be streamed afterwards are worth 2 CPD points.

  • Blog posts

We will be publishing a range of practical blog posts on topics relating to teaching online, building community online and summarising government advice relevant to the yoga community.

  • Financial Support

The option for quarterly membership renewal payments and waiving of late fees

  • Social media updates

Here

  • Teacher training adjusted for online

  • CPD recognition for Yoga Australia online training and events

Let’s stand together as a community to do whatever we can to give our hospitals and healthcare workers a better chance to adapt to the inevitable surges in demand. It is also critical that despite the spatial distance, we do what we can to continue to foster a strong sense of social connectedness.

Yoga Australia are committed to working towards Quality Yoga for all of Australia, and seeking whatever ways we can to help yoga teachers share in this goal.

Kym McDonald – Yoga Australia President            Janet Hopkins– CEO Yoga Australia

Please note that our team is now working remotely. This is consistent with best practice worldwide. This is an unprecedented situation, and we are a small team. We are adapting as quickly as we can. Please bear with us if you hear our kids and dogs in the background as we take your calls!  It will help all if you can email your questions through as follows:

TIPS TO MANAGE CORONAVIRUS SPREAD IF YOU CHOOSE TO STAY OPEN

Your students will appreciate assurance that you are doing all you can to keep your studio safe. To help out with this, we have created some A4 signs that you are more than welcome to download and use in your studio to help communicate this.

Download signs here

The Australian Department of Health has provided some very comprehensive advice in regards to cleaning. You can have a read here. Alternatively we have summarised the key points for you below. 

At this point, Yoga Australia endorses social distancing to reduce risk and slow the spread of the virus and we will continue to update our position in line with Government advice. If you are still running classes we advise the following 

  • reduce class size
  •  increase distances between mats to at least 2m 
  • prepare studios as per our earlier advice re posters, sanitisers and hygiene

The difference between cleaning and disinfecting

  • Cleaning is an essential part of disinfection. Organic matter can inactivate many disinfectants. Cleaning reduces the soil load, allowing the disinfectant to work.
  • Removal of germs such as the virus that causes COVID-19 requires thorough cleaning followed by disinfection.
  • It is good practice to routinely clean frequently touched surfaces with detergent solution and  Clean general surfaces and fittings when visibly soiled and immediately after any spillage.

Yoga Mat Usage

  • Encourage BYOM (Bring your own mat).
  • Clean mats and props after each use and allow to dry. 
  • Use barriers – if they do use studio provided mats, make a towel over the mat compulsory

Your studio

  • Stock your studio with at least a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • Provide antibacterial wipes
  • Post a sign in the bathroom in regards to hand washing etiquette
  • Ensure your bathrooms are stocked with plenty of soap
  • Clean all surfaces in your studio multiple times a day
  • Reduce the amount of props in your studio
  • If you offer tea or water in your studio use disposable cups or even better, ask people to bring their own

Your Students

  • Send an email to your students reminding them to stay home if they are unwell
  • Post a notice on the door requesting students not enter if they are unwell
  • Remind students of cough and sneeze etiquette before each class
  • Encourage students to bring their own mats and blankets
  • Encourage everyone to look out for each other and be understanding and kind

Your staff

  • Monitor reports from government organisations regularly. The information is changing daily
  • Ensure that your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance
  • Encourage staff to take the day off if they are sick
  • Communicate with your staff and keep them updated on what is happening in the studio
  • Don’t propose to know everything, the situation is changing daily
  • Manage confidentiality for those who have contracted the coronavirus

Yoga Teachers

  • Don’t teach if you are feeling unwell
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Stay up to date on your rights as an employee or contractor 
  • Seek support from your friends and community
  • Avoid doing partner work in your classes

THINGS TO CONSIDER AS AN EMPLOYER

We recognise that this is a very challenging scenario to navigate as you are dealing with the unknown. We have spoken to a few studios who are wondering what it means for them if a teacher/student were to contract coronavirus or be quarantined. Likewise, contracted and casual teachers are wondering what their rights are if they are unable to work for a period of time.

Our HR partner, HR Central,  has provided us with some advice in regards to managing your business and employees. This is available for download here. The Yoga Australia team will be monitoring all government resources closely and will update this page and our social media accounts as soon as we have new information for you.

YOGA AUSTRALIA EVENTS

We have cancelled the ACT which was due to run this weekend. This was due to the interactive nature of this event which would have involved close contact between participants.

We are currently reviewing all upcoming events for April and May. Our main priority right now is acting with the best interest of our members, our presenters and the whole community in mind. We will do our best to ensure that these events are still able to run, in an online capacity, where possible. We will update on the status of these events as soon as we know more.

INSURANCE

GSA have received a lot of questions around whether the policy with GSA/CGU will provide coverage for online yoga classes. In particular, whether coverage applies to both pre-recorded and/or live classes.

CGU have confirmed that providing the classes being taught online are able to be safely and appropriately undertaken by the students and all necessary precautions have been addressed, the coverage available under the Professional Indemnity + Public & Products Liability policy will extend to the online classes (both pre-recorded and live), subject to the policy terms and conditions.

 If you do not currently purchase your policy from GSA and would like to, please click the link below

https://www.gsaib.com.au/yoga

 If you have any further questions regarding online coverage, please contact GSA on 02 8274 8106

IMPORTANT RESOURCES

VIC

NSW

WA

SA

TAS

QLD

COMMUNITY

To our members. If you are a teacher or studio owner and you are feeling concerned on what this means for your business or just want to seek another opinion, we encourage you to join our member facebook group. It’s a wonderful community and sometimes just talking to each other can alleviate worry and concerns.

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