Although all yoga is potentially therapeutic, yoga therapy specifically applies tools like breathwork, meditation practices, and postures to address the holistic needs of an individual.
Yoga therapists learn how to apply yoga prescriptions to people with various physical and emotional conditions. The goals of yoga therapy are reducing or eliminating symptoms that cause suffering, as well as supporting wellness in body, mind, and spirit.
Yoga therapy can be successfully used for things like chronic pain, sleep disturbances, digestion issues, cancer, emotional trauma, trying to shift deep-seated patterns of beliefs, and more.
In this post, I’ll explain why you may want to consider becoming a yoga therapist, and what your next steps could be if you want to explore this career path.
All yoga therapists are yoga teachers, but not all yoga teachers are yoga therapists.
Specifically, yoga therapists are skilled at adapting yoga practices to individual needs, and choosing tools that address illness on multiple levels to facilitate healing and reduce suffering.
To become a traditional yoga teacher, you need at least 200 hours of training with an accredited institution. If you want to become a yoga therapist, you must complete advanced training on top of your foundational yoga teacher training.
Certified yoga therapist training programs require at least 800 hours of training and at least 100 clinical hours working with clients in small groups or one-on-one settings.
With this advanced training, yoga therapists have more tools and skills available to help their patients reduce the symptoms of illness, empower themselves in their lives, and improve their quality of life overall.
Go deeper in your work with clients.
If you are eager to make a more significant impact on the people you work with, becoming a yoga therapist could be a good choice.
Yoga therapy goes deeper than typical group yoga classes. It is a customized, multi-dimensional approach that addresses all five levels of Self simultaneously:
Trained yoga therapists can recognize the symptoms of a problem, understand the causes, then choose the tools and practices needed for a coherent and effective holistic treatment plan. Prescriptions can be a mix of movement, stretching, breathing exercises, chanting and mantras, and nutrition recommendations.
Experience personal development as a yoga teacher.
In most yoga therapy training programs, you will receive your own yoga therapy sessions, so you can experience the transformation and learn from it.
From this individual treatment, you can understand the perspective of the client, and undergo the full range of benefits that yoga therapy brings for the body, mind, and spirit – including exploring any shadow side roadblocks that could be holding you back from health, happiness, and success.
Once you have graduated from your training program, the extensive work you do with clients will help you deepen your own practice on the mat, and make your life richer both personally and professionally.
Have a wide range of career options.
Yoga therapy is an up-and-coming field, and you will have many opportunities to advance your career once you have completed your training. Yoga therapists can work with clients one on one, or teach for organizations in hospitals, the military, doctor’s offices, mental health facilities, non-profits, and/or retirement communities.
Yoga therapists can also develop specialities like cancer, autoimmune disease, or senior care.
According to the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IYAT), accredited yoga therapy training programs take place over a minimum of 2 years. In your program, you will study things like yoga-related anatomy, philosophy, therapeutic skills, and professional practices.
All certification programs require clinical practicum hours, where you gain practice experience working with real patients under the supervision of experienced yoga therapists.
Once you graduate from an accredited training program, you can apply to become an IAYT-certified yoga therapist, which is a straightforward process that contributes to the growth and recognition of the field of yoga therapy.
Getting trained is a commitment, but it’s a rewarding and beneficial path for you and your clients.
Yoga therapy is a highly effective modality that is growing fast and receiving increased attention in all kinds of health settings. As research on yoga therapy’s numerous benefits continues, the demand for qualified, talented yoga therapists will continue to grow.
For more information about becoming a certified yoga therapist, visit the IYAT’s list of current accredited training programs.