104: Legal Answers for Your Yoga Business with Saerin Ally Cho
Should your yoga business be an LLC? Do you need to trademark your business name? What kind of permits and licenses do you need to legally run your yoga business? Saerin Ally Cho, founder of Love Light Law joins Shannon in the fourth episode of the 5-part mini-series, Yoga Studio Business 101, to talk about all things legal.
Saerin is a lawyer and yoga teacher, who combined her love for the two disciplines into her company, Love Light Law. Her mission is to help yoga teachers and wellness entrepreneurs do what they love and share their light by protecting their businesses with the law on their side.
On this episode, Saerin and Shannon tackle some of the confusing and complicated (but extremely important!) legal aspects of running a yoga business. From the type of business entity you should have, to legal responsibility for your students – they discuss it all.
If you’ve ever struggled with figuring out taxes or wondered about your liability as a yoga instructor, or even just needed help with the practical aspects of legally establishing and managing your business, this is a must listen.
[2:15] Shannon introduces her guest for this episode – Saerin Ally Cho.
[5:00] Saerin is a lawyer and a yoga teacher. Which came first in her journey? How did motherhood lead her to become a yoga teacher?
“I took a good look at what I enjoyed doing before I became a mother, and decided to dive deep into that, and that was yoga.” -Saerin Ally Cho
[7:00] Should yoga teachers have an LLC? Saerin explains more about what that means, and the different business entities that are available as options for yoga teachers.
[11:52] Shannon’s business is a sole proprietorship. Saerin explains what that means from a tax and legal standpoint.
[13:51] How does Saerin determine if someone should start an LLC? She illustrates with a few examples of people at different points in their lives and careers.
“Coming into a business, and yoga is definitely a business even if you’re teaching part-time or full-time, you’re going to think about what is the right legal entity structure best for me.” -Saerin Ally Cho
[16:56] What are some tips and tricks for determining what your business name should be? What are some of the considerations when it comes to choosing a name for your business?
[20:21] Shannon and Saerin discuss some of the trademarking issues that come up in the yoga space.
[21:08] If you’re in the US, you can “obtain an EIN from the IRS”. Saerin explains what that means.
[24:34] Getting legit with required licenses and permits. Saerin talks through some of the paperwork you may need to run your yoga business – be careful, this varies according to local laws!
“When you look at it from a legal standpoint, you look at all the facts. Who are these people, and what should they have known?” -Saerin Ally Cho
[26:41] Shannon and Saerin delve a little deeper into what legal requirements there are when it comes to teaching in a public space or in your home.
[29:56] Hands-on assists can be a bit of a tricky situation in yoga classes. Find out what’s allowed in your jurisdiction, as this may differ!
[31:47] If a student openly disregards the teacher’s instructions and then suffers some sort of injury, whose legal responsibility is it?
[33:03] What is an example of gross negligence?
[34:34] How much information should you get about the student on your intake and waiver forms?
[38:22] Do get your free download of Saerin’s checklist to ensure that the different aspects of your yoga business are considered.
[40:43] Get in touch with Saerin via her website.
[42:00] Shannon shares her biggest takeaways from her interview with Saerin. Do you have any other legal questions? Leave a comment!
- Saerin Ally Cho
- Love Light Law
- Love Light Law on Facebook
- Love Light Law on Instagram
- Checklist download
- Free waiver form
- US Patent and Trademark Office – Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS)
- Small Business Administration Website (USA)
- The Yoga Conference and Show, Toronto March 2019
- Mama Nurture Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training – (Training is no longer being offered by Shannon Crow because she has niched down)
- Yoga for Pelvic Health Teacher Training, November 2019
Gratitude to our Sponsor Schedulicity
Shannon – You asked about others working in the law field that help yoga teachers. Also in the states there’s Gary Kissiah. http://garykissiah.com/
Some time ago, I was interested in the legal issue of hands-on assists or cues. I went to google and searched for instances where a yoga teacher had been sued related to a hands-on cue/assist. Even after searching diligently, I could not find any instance of this actually happening, except in the case of Bikram Choudhury, who went way beyond simple cues or assists. The point is that hands-on assists/cues are not a legal issue, except in extremely rare instances. That doesn’t mean it isn’t an issue; it just isn’t a legal one. I say all this because I think many people are a bit paranoiad about being sued, which is robbing the practice of some of its humanity. I would argue that instructors should relax, follow common sense, and use hands-on assists if it feels right.
In Canada, Cory Sterling (Conscious Counsel) also provides legal advice for yoga teachers: https://www.consciouscounsel.ca
Also worth noting that there is no LLC in Canada. Most yoga teachers will be operating as sole proprietors, unless you earn enough that the benefits (corporate tax rate, etc.) offset the high costs of incorporation.
So agree with shortening the beginning part of the podcast.
For legal questions. Would be great if you covered independent contractors versus employees. I know in the US this is an issue. You can’t have a no competition clause if you have an independent contiactir. But I find it difficult to find people to hire because so many studios do and then they are not paying the taxes correctly which is also unfair to the person who has employee constarantanbut not the benefits. Person any typos don’t have glasses on and the font is light.
This was such a helpful podcast! Thank you for sharing this important information! Is there any way for me to get a copy of the documents (waiver and checklist) to download? Unfortunately, it is not working on my end.
I’m looking into this Renata. I will let you know if we get a link to that document.
Great news Renata – we have the checklist link thanks to Saerin. Here it is — https://www.theconnectedyogateacher.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Love-Light-Law-12-Step-Checklist-for-Legal-and-Tax-Wellness-of-Your-Yoga-Business.pdf
Such a great podcast!! I just wish we still had access to the checklist! 🙁 Thanks Shannon for all you do! We need you!
Thanks for listening Julie! And for sharing your comment here. I wasn’t aware that the link was not working, so I have sent a message to our guest to see if we can still access it. Another helpful podcast on legal questions is here — https://www.theconnectedyogateacher.com/254-3-legal-agreements-erika-kullberg/
Great news Julie — we have the link for you thanks to Saerin. Here it is — https://www.theconnectedyogateacher.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Love-Light-Law-12-Step-Checklist-for-Legal-and-Tax-Wellness-of-Your-Yoga-Business.pdf