Consent cards: white playing cards with handwritten "yes please" and "no thanks" are shown, along with blank cards and paint pens.

DIY Consent Cards

Now that social distancing has eased in yoga studios, there’s a potential for teachers to offer manual assists again. At Carolina Yoga Company, our policy is that this happens only with expressed consent from the student. They can express consent with a verbal yes, or with a visual cue like consent cards.

You’ll find many options for these cards. Some shops sell tokens with a yes on one side and a no on the other. Some sell playing cards with similar messages. You could, of course, just use a regular deck of playing cards, and explain to your students that the face up means yes and the face down means no.

Or you can make your own cards! It’s easy and, in my experience, fun even for someone with limited art skills.

I made these with some blank square cards and Posca paint pens.

We distribute them to students in a class where the teacher will be offering manual assists, and invite students to change the card as they need to. This allows students to extend or retract consent as needed. Maybe they like assists only in savasana, or never in savasana. Maybe they are protecting an injury and will revoke consent when poses put an injured area in a more vulnerable position. The choice is the students’!

I used these for the first time in a small-group class this week, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how many students flipped cards from the NO, where I set it, to the YES. (Naturally, I also respect those who chose to pass on touch at that moment.) I think we are hungry for touch after the pandemic, and the yoga classroom is one place where we can enjoy it. Thanks to consent cards, we can enjoy it with clearer boundaries.