Updated: May 5, 2020
“Yoga changed my life. And one of the biggest privileges that I have in my life is that I get to choose my clients and I found that I love working with yoga professionals.” - Cory Sterling
“The reality is, if you are an entrepreneur or a small business owner and you're planning on growing your business and having this business support you in your life, your interaction with the law is going to be inevitable.” - Cory Sterling
As a yoga teacher, you are running a business and part of doing that is protecting your business, legally. While “yoga teacher and lawyer” aren’t often in the same sentence, it’s important to know how you can protect your yoga business so that it can truly grow and be sustainable.
In your search for a lawyer, make sure that they understand the yoga industry and what happens in your yoga classes. This is the key factor, that you want to make sure they understand the specific risks of yoga practice and how it could affect your business. This will allow them to write agreements and waivers that will actually hold up in court for your business.
**This is not legal advice. Please consult your attorney to ask questions about your specific business.
Choosing a Corporate Structure for Your Yoga Business
Do you want to be identified as an LLC? I get this question all the time as a business coach and my answer is usually “yes” because it typically isn’t terribly expensive to file for the LLC (ex: $100 in Oklahoma) and then you’ve protected your personal assets. However, it’s not required to do this in order to be a yoga teacher.
“A corporate shield means that once you create a separate entity, you are not your legal entity. That legal entity has to pay taxes and gets a registration number and exists on its own. But it also means that if the company goes bankrupt and all it’s assets are taken, that’s the end of the road. But if you aren’t registered as an LLC your personal assets are at risk.” - Cory Sterling
There are other options when it comes to registering your business but typically with yoga teachers, an LLC is the best option in order to protect your personal assets and separate them from your business assets.
Why do you need agreements and waivers as a yoga teacher?
You were likely instructed to get yoga teacher insurance when you were in yoga teacher training and that’s a great thing! You definitely want to be covered by insurance so that if something does happen to a client during a class of yours that you aren’t held liable.
“A waiver is a type of an agreement and the reason why yoga professionals should use agreements in their business is because it allows them to protect their business and it allows them to grow their business on their own terms.” - Cory Sterling
You want to proactively communicate your expectations to your clients so that everyone is on the same page. Most problems that come up in business or any relationships is that expectations aren’t met. When you have agreements in place, this issue is avoided most of the time.
Waivers of Liability are different types of agreements because most agreements are outlining what will happen, but a waiver of liability, someone is signing away their legal rights. They are saying, when they sign the waiver, that they trust you to take care of them while you’re practicing yoga and I waive my right to sue you if something takes place and I get injured.
“A waiver of liability will not apply to a situation if it’s not clearly drafted.” - Cory Sterling
You have to be really clear in your waivers about what activities you will be doing, risks included and outcomes. If your waiver says “fitness” this can be challenged in court since it wasn’t clearly stated what type of fitness was occurring. The more clear your waivers can be, the more you’re protected.
You can include online yoga in the same agreements and waivers for your in-person yoga classes.
How do you use your agreements and waivers once you have them?
Once you’ve paid for a lawyer to draft your agreements and waivers, you have to ensure that your clients actually see them.
“The big thing that you want to do is make sure that however you're using it, that you can show that someone had the opportunity to read the agreement before they either signed it or before they clicked, I agreed to be bound by these terms.” - Cory Sterling
WaiverApps is the suggestion Cory gave for getting waivers signed by clients. It’s a $49 USD set up fee plus $0.15 per waiver that’s signed.
How long are your agreements and waivers good for?
If anything in your business changes or if the law changes, this is when your agreements and waivers would need to be updated.
For example, as we’re currently dealing with a massive shift in the way we run our businesses, there was a need for all agreements to be updated to include the work on “online yoga” as well as in-person classes. This would be a time when you would want to reach out to your attorney and have your agreements updated.
When you begin working with an attorney, make sure to ask them how they handle updates to agreements. Make sure you know what they charge so that you’re aware of what to budget for.
Your next step
Reach out and talk to your attorney about your agreements and waivers. If you don’t have an attorney yet, look in your local area for one that works with yoga teachers or reach out to Cory and his team. No matter who you’re working with, make sure that your business is protected.
Until next time give yourself permission to protect your business and grace along the way. Talk to you soon!
About Cory Sterling
Cory Sterling is the Founder of the heart-leading law firm Conscious Counsel, a lawyer, and yoga teacher, and real human. He wrote The Yoga Law Book and has served hundreds