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Do I Need a Permit to Teach Yoga in the Park?

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on August 13, 2015 11:59 AM

The idea seems easy enough: You love to teach yoga and you know some folks who want to practice with you. You may not have the money for a studio space, but it's nice outside, so why not just take your class to the park?

Unfortunately, it may not be that easy. If the yoga session is free, then you probably don't have to worry. However, if you're charging clients for the yoga session, you may need a permit to teach yoga in a public park.

You Got a Permit for That Pose?

As Washington D.C. Council member Tommy Wells explained when proposing regulations that would require yoga instructors to apply for permits to teach classes in public parks, there are two ways to look at this: "One way is you're providing a service. It's great you are offering something otherwise not being offered for people to get fit and healthy. The other way to look at it is you are making money, and shouldn't you share some of that revenue with the government?"

Beyond revenue sharing, cities are also worried about the impact increased traffic and use associated with yoga and other fitness classes could have on a park meant to be shared and enjoyed by an entire city. And D.C. isn't the only one -- Austin, TX, Boulder, CO, and Chicago, IL all require permits for the commercial use of public parkland.

Legal Yoga Leadership

Again, many cities only require permits for commercial use, so if you aren't charging clients you may not need a permit. On the other hand, some cities don't distinguish between commercial and non-commercial use, so you may need a permit no matter what, or you may not need a permit at all.

If you're thinking about taking your yoga practice to the public park, your best bet is to check with the local or regional parks district first. That way you can find out whether you need a permit, how much the permit is, and get details on the permitting process. The last thing you want is an ordinance violation spoiling your vinyasa.

If you've got questions regarding small business permits, an experienced administrative attorney could help.

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