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Codes of Ethics and Professional Practice

SYTA Code of Ethics


Satyananda Yoga Teachers’ Association (SYTA) recognises that ethical behaviour is the foundation of all yoga practice and yoga teaching. The Code of Ethics is based on the principle that all members of the Association are collectively responsible for creating an environment of ethical behaviour, integrity and safety. The purpose of the Code of Ethics is to establish a standard of professional conduct that protects both yoga students and yoga teachers.

While codes of ethical conduct are presented in the texts of all major yoga traditions, the most widely recognised is that in the renowned Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Patanjali divides the ethical recommendations into yamas and niyamas. The niyamas pertain to one’s relationship with yoga as a spiritual path while the yamas pertain to one’s relationships with other people. The yamas are: ahimsa (acting with care); satya (truth); asteya (honesty); brahmacharya (wise and caring sexual conduct); aparigraha (accepting only that which is freely given).

SYTA adopts the yamas as the basis of its Code of Ethics. It also provides specific guidelines for the application of these principles appropriate to our role as yoga teachers in the context of Western culture generally and Australian and New Zealand culture in particular.

This Code of Ethics was developed by the SYTA Ethics Committee after a process of extensive consultation with the yoga and wider community.

The Ethics Committee has established a Complaints Handling Procedure based on the principles of natural justice.

Within the context of this Code of Ethics, teacher refers to a current member of SYTA, and student refers to a person who has a contractual arrangement with a teacher to participate in yoga classes. Yoga associates refer to people with whom we are connected in yoga.

1. Ahimsa - acting with care

1. We act with care towards all persons with whom we are connected in yoga.
2. We respect the moral, social, cultural and religious values of our students.
3. We do not discriminate against or refuse teaching to anyone because of their gender, age, sexual preference, disability, race, culture, religion or political belief.
4. We take responsibility to decide whether or not we can assist a student of yoga.
5. We take responsibility to make an appropriate referral, if for any reason, we are unable or unwilling to teach a student.
6. We prioritise the student-teacher relationship over other personal or professional connections with our students.
7. We recognise that the teacher-student relationship involves a power imbalance in favour of the teacher. We also recognise that a power imbalance may exist between yoga associates, either in a residential/retreat situation or within the wider yoga community. We do not use this influence for our own gain, or the gain of any institution or organisation with which we are associated.
8. We do not verbally or in any other way abuse, harass, bully or coerce students or yoga associates.
9. We hold in confidence all verbal and written information about students and yoga associates.
10. We obtain consent from students and yoga associates if they appear in material for use in teaching and publicity including when they are not identified. This includes verbal and written case histories, and audio or video tapes.
11. We do not claim to have or use ‘psychic powers’ in the course of teaching yoga.

2. Satya - speaking truth in the service of all

1. We use truthful and clear communication with all people with whom we are connected in yoga.
2. We communicate our teaching credentials truthfully and without misrepresentation to students, yoga associates and referral sources.
3. We teach yoga within the limits of our training, experience and competence.
4. We speak of other yoga teachers and yoga associates with respect.
5. We negotiate with other teachers or yoga associates when we are considering establishing yoga classes or programs in the same teaching area.
6. We use the appropriate processes to respond to a complaint about unethical behaviour by another yoga teacher.
7. We promote and advertise our teaching ability and our yoga classes truthfully, making only realistic claims about the possible benefits and effects of yoga. We do not use false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive or unfair statements; statements implying unusual, unique or one-of-a-kind abilities. This includes misrepresentation through sensationalism, exaggeration or superficiality, statements intended or likely to exploit a student’s fears, anxieties or emotions, statements concerning the comparative desirability of offered service.
8. We claim only those levels of initiation that we have been granted. We use only those titles accredited to us by our lineage.

3. Asteya - behaving honestly

1. We behave honestly in all our interactions: financial, material, emotional and spiritual, and use all resources with care.
2. In all contractual matters we conduct ourselves in a clear, honest and professional manner.
3. We conduct our financial affairs in line with recognised business, accounting and taxation procedures.
4. Before requiring any commitment from students or yoga associates we provide full information on fees, refunds and other financial arrangements.

4. Brahmacharya - being wise and caring in sexual conduct

1. We bring care and wisdom to our sexual conduct.
2. We avoid all forms of sexual exploitation, harassment and assault. Sexual harassment is defined as, but not limited to:
  • repeated and offensive comments, gestures or physical contacts of a sexual nature
  • the implication that the teacher is a ‘Tantric’, teaching a Tantric sexual practice
  • the implication that teaching/knowledge will be refused or withdrawn if a sexual relationship is refused
  • the implication that a student or yoga associate has failed spiritually if a sexual relationship is refused.
3. In any yoga teaching/learning situation, including a residential/retreat, any form of sexual exploitation or harassment of a resident/yoga associate/visitor is unacceptable.
4. Any form of sexual behaviour with a student is unacceptable.
Sexual behaviour is defined as, but not limited to, all forms of overt and covert seductive speech, gestures and behaviour including physical contact of a sexual nature, as well as claims of being a Tantric, and/or teaching Tantric sexual practices.
5. Any form of sexual relationship with a student is unacceptable, including when a student invites or consents to such behaviour. The exception is an ongoing sexual relationship that predates the teacher-student relationship. We acknowledge that teachers in many spiritual organisations and communities have developed relationships with students or former students. However, SYTA recommends these guidelines:
  • If a sexual relationship develops between a teacher and a student, the teacher must end the teacher-student relationship immediately and refer the student to another teacher. There must be a clear understanding from both parties that the student-teacher relationship has ended.
  • Before engaging in a sexual relationship both parties need to allow a ‘cooling off’ period. A suggested length of time for the ‘cooling-off’ period is three months from the last formal teaching between them.

5. Aparigraha - accepting only that which is freely given

1. We use our yogic knowledge and skills for the benefit of all people with whom we are connected in yoga and not to gain unfair personal advantage.
2. We respect the independence and autonomy of our students and yoga associates in making decisions regarding their spiritual life.
3. We establish fair and clear guidelines for participation in our yoga classes and other services, the payment of fees, refunds and other financial arrangements, donations of time, money or goods in relation to our teaching or to any organisation with which we are associated.
4. We give due acknowledgement to the sources of information, techniques and teaching materials used in our classes and courses, with full compliance with copyright where relevant.
5. We do not coerce students or yoga associates to make payments or donations of money, goods or time to ourselves, another teacher or any organisation with which we are associated.


SYTA Code of Professional Practice

This Code outlines the professional practice responsibilities for all full and honorary members (“Members”).

General Responsibilities:

All Members are expected to comply with the following fundamental obligations:

1. act in accordance with all SYTA policies, procedures and Codes.
2. maintain a current accredited first aid qualification including the HLTAID001 (provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation), HLTAID002 (provide basic emergency life support) and HLTAID003 (provide first aid) or the NZ equivalent.
3. if actively teaching, comply with SYTA’s requirement to hold a current Public Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance policy within Australia or equivalent within New Zealand.
4. comply with all legislative requirements including, where applicable, any legal requirement to hold a current Working With Children Check (or equivalent).
5. acknowledge the source of the Satyananda teachings, provide appropriate credit to the source and respect all copyright.
6. be respectful of other yoga teachers, yoga traditions and styles.

Student Related Responsibilities:

(“Student” includes anyone attending a yoga class, course, workshop or retreat; teacher trainees and mentees)

All Members are expected to:

7. honour with professional integrity the teacher and student relationship.
8. teach within their level of training, knowledge and expertise, acknowledging their duty of care to all students.
9. treat students fairly, respectfully and without discrimination recognising the special needs of vulnerable students* (e.g. children and the elderly) and the cultural and religious values of all students.
10. protect students’ privacy and ensure appropriate confidentiality.
11. provide honest and accurate information to students when promoting yoga.
12. inform any student of the SYTA Complaint Handling Procedure where the student has been adversely affected by a member’s professional conduct and wishes to make a complaint about that member.


* Vulnerable Student means;

  • a Child or Children; or
  • an individual aged 18 years and above who is or may be unable to take care of themselves, or is unable to protect themselves against harm or exploitation by reason of age, illness, trauma or disability, or any other reason