PARAYOGA® CODE OF ETHICS for CERTIFIED TEACHERS
My conduct as a certified ParaYoga teacher reflects on the entire community of ParaYoga, including Yogarupa Rod Stryker as well as the lineage we transmit. I recognize that as a ParaYoga Certified Teacher I serve in a position of leadership and, in varying degrees, as a spiritual guide. Maintaining ethical behavior is vital to ensure the well-being of the individuals whom I serve, the ancient wisdom that I aspire to transmit with fidelity, and to society as a whole. As a ParaYoga teacher, my actions must aspire to and express the highest possible standards of conduct as outlined and set forth in the ParaYoga Code of Ethics. My behavior must always align with both ParaYoga’s mission and its Cultural Values.
ParaYoga is a living link to the ancient sciences of yoga and tantra. Our mission is to serve these teachings by continuing to be a leading resource for the dissemination of their wisdom, power and capacity to positively affect all aspects of modern life.
Our approach is to emphasize the light of direct experience, combined with authoritative knowledge, accessibility, and integrity. We are committed to inform and empower students and teachers of
all levels––and society as a whole––through yoga and tantra’s time-tested practices that lead to ultimate fulfillment and freedom.
ParaYoga Cultural Values: Self-Mastery
I accept that I am responsible for the quality and conditions of my life. As such, I constantly seek greater self-awareness. I recognize that any and all conflict (or challenges) that I experience are opportunities for growth and increased self-reliance. I constantly aim to become increasingly capable of achieving greater personal freedom, joy and fulfillment.
Self-mastery is a hallmark of my growth as a seeker and student.
- I am responsible for claiming my worth, value and capacity.
- I continually seek growth through greater self-understanding.
- As a teacher, student and seeker, I use all experiences as growth opportunities.
- I promote self-reliance in all those I teach, lead or mentor in the context of ParaYoga.
- I understand that in my role as a teacher there is an inherent power differential with those
whom I teach.
- I balance my role as a leader with elevating those whom I lead, so that they may evolve into
their own self-mastery.
I understand that upholding the highest moral standards is paramount to ParaYoga’s sustainability as an organization as well as the reputation of those who provide services using the name ParaYoga.
- I accept responsibility to consistently ensure that my intentions, actions and speech are grounded in honesty, kindness, compassion, selflessness, trustworthiness, transparency and love.
- In order to act in a way that is consistently guided by these principles, I understand that it is vital that I continue to engage in self-inquiry. My work as seeker is never done.
- Even as an accomplished certified teacher, I recognize my role and process as a student is never complete. I avoid portraying anything to the contrary, expressing an authentic version of who and what I am as one in the process of seeking to know and embody the highest truth.–
The ParaYoga tradition is authentic, with a genuine historical lineage.As a part of this lineage I have a responsibility to cherish and nurture the teachings and pass them on with love and respect.As a certified teacher it is my actions––more than my teaching or practice––that illustrates the extent to which I have embodied the highest values of these teachings.Informed by my evolution as a spiritual adept and my commitment to serve, my ethical behavior––inside and outside of the classroom––is the ultimate guardianship of these teachings to the world at large.
ParaYoga’s practices are a gift to every individual they touch as well as to the ParaYoga community as a whole, helping to create countless opportunities for a brighter, freer and more joyful future. To honor this, I support the community of which I am a part.
- Every ParaYogi has a voice that can be heard within our community.
- The hallmark of my work as a seeker is that I empower myself.
- The hallmark of my work as a teacher is to empower others.
- I understand that in my role(s) as a “teacher,” “mentor,” “coach” and/or “consultant,” those who I serve will inevitably look to me for advice and guidance in their life inside or outside of yoga practice.
- As it relates to my student’s life outside of yoga, I do not directly advise them; instead, I seek to empower them to develop their own self-trust and reliance. When appropriate, I also recommend that the student seek expert advice and counsel for non-yoga related issues
As ParaYogis grow in partnership and community, we accept a responsibility to act with kindness to one another.
- I commit to growing my capacity to be honest, forthcoming, and straightforward with others as a member of the ParaYoga community.
- I remain open to address issues as they may come up, both with fellow ParaYoga teachers as well as within the community at large.
- I recognize that compassion requires that I avoid dual-role relationships in my work as a teacher. Love of Life. I am enlivened and connected through the sheer joy I experience in being alive.
- The gift of life is to be savored and shared. This is revealed to me through my practice and intention to expand my relationship to this world and beyond.
- I embrace the inherent value of inclusiveness.
- My appreciation of differences in people and traditions is an expression of love and the culmination of true wisdom.
Ethical Behavior for ParaYoga TeachersIn conducting my teaching practice, I will offer only those services that I am competent to provide.I will provide therapeutic instruction only for those problems or issues that are within the reasonable boundaries of my competence as explicitly detailed in my yoga teacher certification(s).I will abstain from giving medical advice on physical or mental health issues or advice that could be interpreted as such, unless I have professionally recognized medical or mental health qualifications.
I am willing to accept students with physical disabilities, providing I have the skill to teach those students properly.
I am vigilant and mindful of the privileged and unique role I occupy as a ParaYoga teacher.
Part of my role as a certified ParaYoga teacher entails navigating the unique relationship between my role as a teacher and/or mentor to my students, as informed by the ParaYoga Cultural Values. As such I recognize and agree that:
There is and will always be a power differential between myself and the students I teach and/or the people I mentor.
I must respect and remain sensitive to this power differential and always consider the impact of my intentions as well as actions in this light.
In the event of a dispute between myself and a student or someone for whom I serve as a mentor or coach, I will willingly engage in the ParaYoga ethical grievance process, and/or encourage my student, client or mentee to initiate the process, if necessary, to seek resolution.
I cannot enter into an agreement that would preclude disclosure of all facts, circumstances and documents, relating to the underlying claim, to the Grievance Committee.
I will not diagnose students’ physical or psychological condition.
I will not prescribe a treatment or suggest or approve of going against a physician’s advice and, when I have reason to suspect any significant pre-existing medical condition, I will require that the student provide written approval of his/her medical care provider for participation in ParaYoga classes.
Professional Practices of a ParaYoga Teacher
1. I will be honest, straightforward, fair, and conscientious in all business dealings.
2. I will manage my business finances according to standard and recognized business and accounting practices.
My fees and financial arrangements, as with all contractual matters, are always discussed without hesitation or equivocation at the onset of a business interaction and are established in a straightforward, professional manner.
I will recognize the inherent conflicts of interest that arise when barter is used as a form of payment between myself and my students. If barter is used as payment for instruction, I am responsible for insuring that the student is in no way exploited and whenever feasible, enlist the aid of a neutral third party to handle or supervise the exchange.
3. I will strive to use my creativity to generate and fulfill opportunities to render service to individuals or groups who are underserved by the broader yoga community without regard to financial remuneration.
4. I will continue to participate in continuing education opportunities related to teaching yoga on a regular basis in order to stay current in the teaching and practice of yoga. I agree to:
- Complete a minimum 12 hours of continuing education 2 years with Rod Stryker (this can include assisting at Rod Stryker-led ParaYoga events).
- Submit the fee for annual dues. This fee includes licensing fees and website/social media listing of classes and workshops.
ParaYoga Level II Certified Teachers must also complete a dedicated Puruscharana Meditation practice within six months of becoming certified. Each Level II Certified teacher will receive specific directions as to how they will complete 125,000 repetitions of their Mantra.
Continuing Education opportunities also include self study (Svadhyaya) as well as the offerings made available by ParaYoga and other Yoga traditions and institutions.
I will seek out and engage in collegial relationships with other Para Yogis to avoid isolation and moreover, to create continuing opportunities for self-reflection and growth.
I will manage my personal well-being in a way that promotes my ability to quickly recognize my personal issues that may impair, conflict or interfere with my teaching or teaching relationships. I will seek assistance and support when needed to sustain my mental and physical health.
1. My intention for every student is to help them grow their self-reliance. In my role as a ParaYoga teacher, I understand that my students may look to me for advice. I seek to empower students to develop trust in themselves and self-reliance. Ultimately, it is my job to help them rely on me less and less and my actions (as a teacher) always reflect this.
2. I show only the highest regard for my students’ personal moral, social, political and religious beliefs, without imposing my own beliefs. I may express my own beliefs when appropriate in my yoga classes.
3. I welcome all students regardless of age, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity and perceived gender expression), sexual orientation, color, race, national origin, marital status, parental status, veteran’s status, religion, or physical or mental disability (skill level of teacher permitting).
4. I recognize the trust necessary for the unique power of the teacher-student relationship. I avoid exploiting the trust and dependency of my students.
5. As a ParaYoga certified teacher, I agree that I shall at no time encourage or support or partake in the use of recreational drugs with students. I fully understand and agree that drug use and ParaYoga practice are fundamentally incompatible, no matter the context of said use. This includes drug use in the name of “sacred ritual,” “plant medicine,” “plant spirit medicine,” or any similar designations. I understand that the use of drugs with my students is strictly prohibited. Any violation of this tenet, involving drugs use and my students (whether I am their teacher, mentor, consultant or coach), is considered a grave breech of the Code of Ethics, fundamentally incongruent with the values and mission of ParaYoga.
6a. I acknowledge that my role as a ParaYoga teacher, one who is committed to helping students, may include other leadership roles that I may be asked to provide, such as that of “mentor,” “business coach,” or “consultant.”
To provide as much clarity as possible as it relates to the ParaYoga Code of Ethics, general definitions of these terms have been outlined below. However, these distinctions do not necessarily delineate all of the unique facets of these various leadership roles.
The Role of Teacher
“Teacher” is a general term that covers a wide array of potential relationships. For instance, the term teacher is often used to refer to one who provides instruction and/or leads their “students” in open classes, thus denoting the most tangential kind of relationship. On the other hand, a teacher can refer to one who serves the student as a spiritual guide at the highest level (e.g. the teacher as spiritual preceptor) and thereby provides individualized instruction, training, supervision and personal guidance.
The Role of Mentor
“Mentors,” while similar to teachers in some respects, inasmuch as they potentially provide personalized instructional training and/or guidance, are not yet qualified to serve in the role as spiritual preceptor. Nonetheless, the term mentor designates one who provides personal guidance and leadership in one or more select area(s) of training. This can include specific follow-up to ParaYoga course content (i.e. PYMT’s, personal guidance in The Four Desires, preparation for certification or providing guidance toward improving specific teaching skills, etc.).
The Role of Consultant
“Consultant” designates one who serves in the role of offering specific content, more practically oriented (i.e. consulting on an array of specific subjects like developing a teaching or class schedule, opening a studio, improving outreach to one’s community, social media advice, etc.). In general, a consultant serves in a more limited role than teacher or mentor and is focused on providing more material information and/or guidance.
The Role of Coach
“Business coach,” and to a lesser degree “consultant,” are not particularly compatible with either the role of teacher or mentor, inasmuch as a business coach designates an advisory role requiring detailed knowledge of the client. This might include the client’s financial details, tax liabilities, net worth and other financial or personal matters. While this information might be relevant for a business coach (or consultant), it serves little or no purpose, and could be counterproductive, in protecting and ensuring the sanctity of the role of teacher or mentor.
Indeed, it is less than ideal that a teacher or mentor create a relationship that in the long term requires meeting with or directing the client in an ongoing, say, weekly basis, whereas a consultant or business coach might easily justify such regular interactions. It is of primary importance that as a ParaYoga certified teacher (or in my role as a mentor), my intention is to promote self-reliance and self-discovery.
Whereas, in these other roles, as consultant or business coach, there is an inherent co-dependence that will, sooner or later, conflict with the highest aims of the teacher/mentor.
If a student specifically requests my guidance as a consultant and/or mentor, I am obligated to explicitly state in writing, signed by both myself and my student, that I relinquish my role as their teacher.
6b. I recognize that relationships are complex, and that dual-role relationships may be unavoidable. A dual-role relationship occurs when the person in the position of power (teacher, mentor, coach, consultant) has a second, different relationship with his or her student or mentee in addition to the traditional teacher-student relationship.
Dual relationships can entail any combination of professional relationships, such as simultaneously serving as their coach/consultant or teacher/mentor––any of which might entail very different priorities. Dual relationships could also consist of a blending of professional and non-professional roles, as in the case of a teacher who is also a friend or intimate partner.
In these and all instances, I understand that my highest priority is serving my students’ best interests at all times. I am responsible for this and thus I avoid taking advantage of any power-differentials in which I put my self-interests ahead of those I teach or mentor. In the event that I have confusion about any relationship, I will consult with the ParaYoga Ethics Committee.
As a teacher, if I enter into a relationship in which I intend to and am serving in a dual-relationship, I will submit a document in writing to ParaYoga stating that this relationship is wholly independent of ParaYoga and its officers.
Furthermore, as a teacher I indemnify ParaYoga for any and all adverse claims asserted by students against ParaYoga.
7. I am responsible for setting clear, appropriate boundaries when making physical contact with my students. I avoid relationships with students that could impair my professional judgment, compromise the integrity of my instruction, or create an uncomfortable environment for the students in my classes.
8. I accept the fact that all forms of sexual behavior with students are unethical, even when a student invites or consents to such behavior. Sexual behavior is defined as, but not limited to, all forms of overt and covert seductive speech, gestures, and behaviors including physical contact of a sexual nature, as well as abusive words or actions, or sexually exploitative coercion of students or former students, either in person or virtually (e.g., social media). I recognize that the teacher-student relationship involves a power differential, the residual effects of which can remain after the student is no longer studying with the teacher. Therefore, I am cautious and discerning prior to choosing to enter into an intimate relationship with a former student.
9. I refrain from initiating a romantic or sexual relationship with a current student in any capacity (e.g., teaching assistant or apprentice), even if invited by the student.
If I wish to enter a consensual sexual relationship with a current student, the teacher-student relationship ceases immediately and I must refer that student to practice with another teacher.
The required protocol for entering into a personal relationship with a student is as follows:
- First, I discuss my attraction and desire openly and honestly with one of the ParaYoga Ethics Committee members before I become involved with a student; failing to do so, I understand would violate the spirit and letter of this provision.
- Next, I commence a 3-month period where I avoid personal interaction with, and do not teach the student once an attraction arises.
- At the end of 3 months, I am free to see the person socially. And, for the next 3-6 months, I will have contact on a personal basis only.
- After which, if it is mutually agreeable to both parties, I can resume a “teaching” relationship with the student concurrent with our personal relations.I fully acknowledge that this Ethics Protocol is intended to support the best interests of my students, ParaYoga and the Yoga Profession, as well as my continuing to serve the Tradition.If a close, personal or intimate friend, or a life partner attends my class, I will avoid showing preferential treatment, sharing intimacies, or otherwise fail to make the learning environment safe and beneficial for all the students in attendance.-
I do not disclose student confidences to anyone, except as mandated by law (for example, in the case of a threat of violence).I obtain written consent from students before audio and/or video recording or taking photographs specifically for distribution (but not for my own ParaYoga certification) or permitting third party observation of their sessions/classes. Verbal consent for my own ParaYoga certification needs is sufficient.When current or former students are referred to in a publication, while teaching, or in a public presentation, their identity is thoroughly disguised (for example, by using pseudonyms) or not disclosed in visual representations, unless explicit permission is granted by the students.
I will respect, defend and preserve the privacy of all information gained in private or group instructional settings.
I will release professional obligations for confidentiality from my students or professional colleagues only by their written authorization, statutory requirement or court order. No information from my professional interactions with students or colleagues will be revealed to anyone without properly written authorization from them.
1. I avoid speaking negatively about other teachers, styles, and/or Yoga traditions.
In all my communications, especially within the yoga community, I commit to using the Four Gates of Speech as a guideline by asking the following questions: Are these words true? Are they necessary? Are they beneficial? Are they kind? If the answer to any of these is “No,” then it is best left unsaid.
2. I will refrain from the exploitation of professional relationships for personal gain, whether financial, personal or professional purposes.
Advertising and Promotion
1. In brochures, advertising, websites and other descriptions of my services (including verbal), I will represent ParaYoga in a respectful manner, which reflects the integrity of the teachings.
- I will make no exaggerated claims as to the benefits of yoga practice or my classes.
- I represent my training, qualifications, abilities and affiliations accurately andunambiguously. If I am at all unclear about these, I will defer to the Ethics Committee Chair or the ParaYoga Office.
- I recognize that I may represent myself as a “Senior” or “Master” ParaYoga teacher onlywith the express written permission of Yogarupa Rod Stryker or the ParaYoga Certification Committee.–
Accountability and The ParaYoga Pledge of EthicsI fully acknowledge that this ParaYoga Code of Ethics has as its primary goals the welfare and protection of my students, ParaYoga and the Yoga Profession, as well as my continuing to serve the Tradition.As a ParaYoga certified teacher, I pledge to honor my ethical and legal obligations to my students, colleagues and the public at large. I pledge to comply with the ParaYoga Code of Ethics, advance the ParaYoga Mission Statement, and honor the ParaYoga Cultural Values.