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Speaking Mindfully: The Legal Implications of Health Advice, Part I

Although students often ask yoga teachers and studios for health advice, legal and ethical rules can affect the way such questions can be answered. Here's how to understand some of the legal implications of requests by yoga students for health advice.

By Michael H. Cohen, JD, MBA

The legal corollary would be that when, based on our own professional education, training, and licensure, we don't know precisely how to answer someone's request for health advice, it's best to admit it and refer our students to an appropriate health care provider. When we exceed our professional authority, we risk crossing professional boundaries, obfuscating instead of clarifying and jeopardizing our authority and legitimacy in the process. Legal boundaries represent limits, but attending to them can help prevent injury and enhance professionalism, and, in this way, deepen what is sacred between teacher and student.

Michael H. Cohen, JD publishes the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog (, an informational resource for health care professionals and the health care industry.

The materials in this website/e-newsletter have been prepared by Michael H. Cohen, JD and Yoga Journal for informational purposes only and are not legal opinion or advice. Online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional legal counsel.

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Reader Comments

Kim Mitchell

I am constantly asked for advice concerning participants issues and what yoga can do for them, I say if it feels good, do it, if it hurts, don't, I tell them this is a good way to get to know your own body's weaknesses and strengths, to be consistent with practice, you never know what comes of it till you gather experience.

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