Yoga therapy, or the use of all aspects of Yoga to treat disease, is currently a rapidly developing field in the Western world. Since this type of activity is in its infancy, clients and teachers need to be aware that there are no universally accepted standards for training and certification.
What is Yoga Therapy?
Yoga therapy, as practiced by yoga therapists with yoga therapy certification, is the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through applying the philosophy and practice of Yoga. Yoga therapy uses an individual’s internal resources and capabilities (often untapped) to address physical health concerns, mental health challenges, behavioral difficulties, and personal development issues and create new material, mental, and emotional vitality possibilities.
A comprehensive therapeutic approach to wellness, yoga therapy brings into play a wide variety of tools based on the ancient traditions of Yoga, including postural alignment, breath awareness, and control, lifestyles and habits education; nutritional counseling; stress management, relaxation techniques; and meditation.
Yoga as an alternative medicine
Yoga therapy is an alternative medicine practice with roots in Yoga. It’s a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) that uses yoga postures, breathing exercises, meditation, and guided imagery to improve mental and physical health. Variations in the practice of yoga therapy range from emphasizing general health and fitness to treating specific conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or back pain.
People who use yoga therapy as a complementary treatment may be more likely to follow through with their conventional medical treatment plans than those who don’t. Yoga therapy has improved the quality of life for people with cancer, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and chronic low back pain. It may also help people cope with the stress of illness. Yoga also may provide relief from neck pain, shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma.
Although yoga therapy has many benefits, it’s not for everyone. If you’re considering yoga therapy, talk with your doctor about whether it’s appropriate for you and, if so, which type might be best for your condition.
Yoga therapy certification requirements
Minimum age: 21 years on the day of the certification examination.
- Teaching Yoga for at least three years, with a minimum of 500 hours of teaching experience, verified by the applicant’s teaching and confirmed by two written student recommendations.
- At least one year of post-certification clinical experience as an IAYT member (verified by two written letters from clients); or
- A minimum of 500 hours of study in anatomy, physiology, and therapeutic Yoga (verified by transcripts and certificates); or
A minimum of 500 hours of additional contact hours through Continuing yoga therapy certification Programs and approved workshops (must be documented with certificates or other appropriate proof). Contact hours may include Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training (KYTT), Ayurveda training, and further recognized training in related fields, including but not limited to Reiki practice, craniosacral therapy, reflexology, massage therapy, herbalism, and nutrition. Additional information about continuing education requirements is available here.