Can we sponsor an online chair yoga class open to the public? We hosted this program on Mondays in person and would like to make it available during our COVID 19 closure. The instructor can live stream herself with payment and we'd like to open it up to anyone. Do we need waivers or disclaimer language on our website?
Can a library sponsor an online chair yoga class open to the public? YES.
There are just a few details to attend to:
1. The financial details
Libraries do not charge for programming but can pay those who offer library programming for free, so as the member says, this online chair yoga program should be open “to anyone.”
In this instance, it sounds like perhaps the instructor has (perhaps) been paying for space in the library, while offering on-site or online classes for a fee. In the new arrangement proposed by the member, the classes become a free library program. This means the instructor can still be paid, but the payment should come from the library, while the on-line attendees tune in for free.
The trick in this is to avoid any “fiscal hybridization;” in no event should the library host and promote the event, while the instructor gets some payment directly from attendees.
2. The online content details
Once your library has confirmed the financial details, there should be complete understanding about the following questions:
Can the library promote the class using the instructor’s name and likeness?
Will the session be recorded?
Who owns the recording?
Will the library be able to use the recording for as long as it wants?
What platforms will the session and recording be hosted on?
Will the recording be put in the collection of the library?
What social media will the session be promoted on?
Will the session use music (that could stop it from being posted some places, like YouTube)?
That’s it, nothing fancy, just have some things to have clarity about.
3. The participant details
Once you have the details of the way the class will go “out there,” confirm:
Who is our target audience?
Do they have any particular vulnerabilities?
Do we need to consider ADA access such as captioning?
How will we collect feedback on the programs?
4. The contract details
With all that minutia settled, here is a template agreement to organize the details.
Of course, as with all template contracts, if you can, have this template customized for your library by your local lawyer or insurance carrier.
CHAIR YOGA AGREEMENT
The [LIBRARY] (“Library”) and [NAME] (“Yoga Instructor”), a yoga instructor certified by [CERTIFYING BODY], to provide critical health programming at a time of state-wide pandemic emergency, agree as follows:
Yoga Instructor will offer classes in chair yoga (“Chair Yoga Classes”) from [PHYSICAL LOCATION] to Library’s patrons and others via:
[INSERT HOSTING METHOD AND STREAMING SITE(S)]
Classes will be live streamed at [INSERT TIMES, DATES].
The Chair Yoga Classes will be a target audience of those who can benefit from online social gatherings to participate in routine chair yoga.
To promote safe participation, at the start and end of every class, the screen will read, or the Yoga Instructor will say:
[INSERT Yoga Instructor’s preferred safety and wellness message; here is a sample that is customized for the times:
Chair Yoga is intended as a gentle but serious exercise for the mind and body. Please consult your physician prior to any physical activity that could impact your health, and only participate within your know abilities. Please also know that Yoga, in general, can connect you to feelings that you may wish to address with your mental health provider. Please stay safe during this time of social distancing and enjoy our class.]
Chair Yoga Classes will be promoted as a free program of the library and Yoga Instructor shall not charge individual attendees for these sessions.
Library will pay Yoga Instructor _____ per session.
[OR] Yoga Instructor has agreed to provide this programming on a volunteer basis.
Yoga Instructor agrees that no music or other copyrighted work other than content owned or properly licensed to Yoga Instructor and Library shall be used during recorded or live-streamed Chair Yoga Classes.
Yoga Instructor agrees that Library may use their name, likeness, and image when promoting Chair Yoga Classes. Library agrees that Yoga Instructor may use its name, likeness, and image when promoting Chair Yoga Classes.
All sessions of Chair Yoga will be recorded by [INSERT] and the recording will be jointly owned by Yoga Instructor and Library. This means both parties shall have the right to make copies, distribute in any way, or otherwise use the copyrights to the recordings.
Yoga Instructor hereby agrees to hold harmless and indemnify Library for any claim, cause of action, or injury arising from the creation, promotion, and participation in Chair Yoga Classes.
Yoga Instructor is an independent contractor and no partnership, joint venture, or relationship other than what is in this Agreement is created or implied by this Agreement.
The Parties both understand that this is an agreement during a time of emergency and this contract may be terminated without notice. Any changes to this contract shall be confirmed via e-mail reflecting clear mutual agreement by the parties.
This agreement is governed by the laws of the State of New York.
Signed for Library on _________:_______________________
Signed for Yoga Instructor on _________:_______________________
5. The assessment details
As with any library program, a live-streamed event is one for the staff to watch, monitor, and assess on a continual basis. This will allow you to the promotion, the session, the recordings to comply with the Agreement, and top make enhancement based on participant feedback. It is also another way to limit the risks inherent in the activity.
While there is very little risk of liability for personal injury during livestreamed chair yoga (compared to say, in-person “Acroyoga”…you should see the case law on that!), “chair yoga” is targeted to a population with some physical limitations, so attention to these details is a good idea.
Just as critical, though, will be feedback that the class felt accessible, gave good instruction, and had a positive impact.
And finally, the most important detail for busy library professionals scrambling to serve their communities right now…
6. Remember to breathe
…it helps with stress.
Best wishes for a good program, and happy utkatasana.
 I also would not have a concern with it being restricted to cardholders within a system, or cardholders registering in advance to participate for free.
 The yoga instructor could also do this as a volunteer, but if they do good work, it is nice for them to get paid.
 If you can, this template should be reviewed by the lawyer who knows your library best. But given the current crises and the need to reach people quickly, and the strain on budgets, I appreciate that you might laugh at this footnote.
 Here’s a quote from a case, (Malouf v Equinox Holdings, Inc., 38 Misc 3d 1223 [Sup Ct, NY County 2012]): “The exercise during which she was allegedly injured called for her male partner to lie on his back with his legs in the air. She "was told to lean over his feet and put his feet on my pelvis and lean forward and hang limp like a rag doll balancing on his feet with his feet on my pelvic bone”…The next step "was to put our hands together and bring our hands behind our heads with our elbows up in the air" (id.). Then, "the dark-haired girl came and forcefully pushed my elbows behind my head and forcefully brought them together and I screamed Ouch'" (id.). Malouf had not asked for assistance (id. at 31).”
 Please don’t tell my mother, who does chair yoga at New Hartford Public Library, that I have characterized her activity this way. There is absolutely no limit to her ability to chastise me over the 180 miles between her house in New Hartford and my house in Buffalo.
 “Chair pose.” One of my favorites.