What is a Yoga Therapist?

Certified Yoga therapists (C-IAYT) are well-trained and experienced yoga teachers with extensive additional training in yoga therapy from certified accredited schools recognized by the International Association of Yoga Therapists allowing them to serve individuals and groups with similar health conditions in a therapy setting. Extensive training coupled with years of teaching and their own yoga practice allows yoga therapists to create practices that are customized for the individual’s needs based upon their condition and their interests as they naturally evolve. A yoga therapist’s scope of practice is quite varied based upon this experience providing the therapist a keen ability to skillfully apply clinical strategies and interventions to accomplish a goal or achieve a specific outcome for a therapy client or therapy group. Education is particularly important for yoga therapists as they use their background in acquiring and translating knowledge of yoga and therapy to better serve their clients. They do this through continuing education and their own practice as it matures to then help clients learn about specific yoga techniques and tools relevant to their conditions and goals. Skillfully offering these tools and techniques helps clients better understand their condition and their relationship to their condition as they address symptoms in the therapy process; thus empowering clients to learn how to help themselves. Yoga therapists also work under a strong professional code of ethics for the integrity of the practice and profession, and most importantly, to best honor and serve the individuals who work with a yoga therapist. 

IAYT Certified Yoga Therapists (C-IAYT) are required to have completed both 200 and 500-hour trainings where basic and more esoteric teachings are learned and applied including anatomy, physiology, and yoga philosophy as well as working and teaching in a therapeutic setting before applying to a registered yoga therapy institution. After acceptance, yoga therapists-in-training must complete rigorous studies on physical, physiological, and psychological systems extending training education to 1000 hours as well as log at least 100 clinical hours working with clients in yoga therapy sessions that focus on different systems of the body and mind. As yoga therapy continues to take hold as an established and well-regarded profession in healthcare, more guidelines and codes of ethics are created by IAYT to guide decision making for the therapist to maximize the efficacy of the therapy work and minimize the risk of harm.

Instructors of yoga therapy programs have a deep knowledge of yoga and yoga therapy as well as specializations in the fields of Western medicine providing new therapists the ability to bridge yoga and modern healthcare. A yoga therapist is equipped with knowledge of Western medical terminology, conditions, and considerations coupled with in-depth study of the body’s systems integrated with their extensive study and teaching of yoga. This provides an integral therapy experience where clients learn how to manage symptoms of medical conditions through the use of yoga with the goals of reducing symptoms, improving function, and transforming client perspectives of themselves and their condition ultimately empowering clients to learn how to help themselves.

Click here to learn more about the distinctions between yoga therapy sessions and yoga classes and yoga therapists and yoga teachers to help you select the best services for your wellness.

Editor’s Note: Please note that all words are written by Barb Gibson, C-IAYT, and requested permission is required to use content