Defining Yoga Therapy & Yoga Therapist
Yoga Therapists - What We Do & Why We Do It
Yoga Therapy enables individuals to move toward better health and improved quality of life through the time-honored practice of yoga.
Yoga Therapists provide one-on-one, individualized, customized yoga therapy sessions or programs which seek to ameliorate specific chronic conditions, assist in recovery, or manage symptoms associated with long-term illness. Some yoga therapists specialize in a particular area such as neurological conditions, pain management, or cancer recovery.
C-IAYT Yoga Therapists are health practitioners with training encompassing all aspects of yoga including physical applications and philosophy of yoga, as well as studies in chronic illness and conditions and their causes / symptoms, range of motion and biomechanics, anatomy and physiology, working with various disabilities, correct applications of yoga and contraindications in certain health conditions or mental state as well as across various age-groups, and a clear understanding of patient-client relationships. They may also hold degrees or licenses in other health fields or have a master's degree in Yoga Therapy. A C-IAYT yoga therapist is expected to have a range and scope of experience working with individuals one-on-one, and understand both the intrinsic and practical applications of yoga as a therapeutic modality.
C-IAYT Yoga Therapist
The global standards set in place by the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) help to distinguish and characterize yoga therapists who have completed comprehensive training requirements and competencies under an IAYT accredited yoga therapist training program. An International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) certified yoga therapist, or C-IAYT, has completed a minimum of 1000 hours of yoga therapy training over the course of 4-6 years, with training focused upon yoga as a therapy and working with individuals as a therapist, not simply as an instructor. Yoga Alliance (YA), the registering body for yoga teachers in the USA, is clear on the distinction between yoga therapy and yoga instruction, as well as scope of practice.
Yoga Therapy Competencies
The IAYT Competency Profile outlines a range of skills and knowledge base which are essential to the practice of yoga therapy by a C-IAYT yoga therapist, summarized as follows:
• An understanding of yoga teachings, yoga philosophy, and their application to yoga therapy, including the condition and functioning of the mind and the understanding of health and disease. This knowledge is fundamental to distinguishing yoga therapy from other forms of treatment.
• Knowledge of the allopathic/biomedical and psychological conceptualization of anatomy, physiology, mental health, and related pathology, including basic knowledge of perspectives on health and disease and the contemporary health care environment. This knowledge is fundamental to working in modern health care.
• An understanding of the importance of body–mind connection and its integration in the practice of yoga therapy. This knowledge represents the synthesis of the previous categories and is fundamental to the practice of yoga therapy.
• Knowledge and skills related to therapeutic skill and client education at the individual consultation or group level. Therapeutic relationships can be complex and require skills and knowledge [on the part of the yoga therapist] that either include or differ from those of a [yoga] teacher.
• A deep understanding of the breadth of yoga practices and their application. This includes a well-developed ability to integrate the necessary knowledge with practice, to provide effective yoga therapy for clients, including all aspects of intake and assessment, design and instruction of practices, and providing ongoing support.
• An understanding of the principles of professional practice. This includes understanding the regulatory environment, relationship with peers, professional ethics, and the role of ongoing personal development.
Therapeutic Yoga or Yoga Therapy?
As a C-IAYT Yoga Therapist, we respect and uphold the traditions of yoga as Yoga Cikitsa, the therapeutic practice of yoga. One can say that yoga—if well taught and practiced mindfully—is therapeutic in that it strives to create balance; however, not all yoga is Yoga Therapy, nor is all yoga therapeutic. We gratefully and wholeheartedly use our studies as a yoga therapist to help others safely, knowledgeably, and with an understanding of practitioner and client boundaries. We encourage you to ask about experience, training and background when seeking yoga therapy.
Bridging Yoga & Healthcare:
International Association of Yoga Therapists
Founded in 1989, the International Association of Yoga Therapists represents yoga therapists and healthcare professionals practicing in over 55 countries. IAYT supports education and research in yoga as therapy and serves as a global resource for yoga therapists and yoga teachers.
C-IAYT Yoga Therapists:
Supporting Health & Healing Through Yoga
IAYT’s certification for yoga therapists (C-IAYT) is built on competency-based educational standards and a rigorous accreditation process for training programs. C-IAYTs follow a defined scope of practice and code of professional ethics. Learn more about who we are, what we do, and why we do it at YogaTherapy.Health