According to the IAYT-International Association of Yoga Therapists, Yoga Therapy is "The professional application of the principles and practices of yoga to promote health and well-being within a therapeutic relationship that includes personalized assessment, goal setting, lifestyle management, and yoga practices for individuals or small groups."
A certified Yoga Teacher should have a minimum of 200 hours of training that can be completed in as little as 15 days. A C-IAYT Yoga Therapist will have a minimum of 800 hours of classroom training, plus a 205 hour practicum that can be completed in a minimum of 2 years. Many Yoga Therapists will have additional trainings.
Yoga Therapy can address neurological conditions (Traumatic Brain Injury, effects from stroke, Parkinson's Disease etc.), Chronic Pain (low back pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis etc. ), Mental Health (P.T.S.D, anxiety, depression, insomnia etc. ) and Illness Support (heart disease, diabetes, cancer etc.).
Yoga Therapy can benefit everyone. All ages, all ethnicities, abled and differently abled bodies, all genders, all sexual orientations, and all body sizes.
Yoga Therapy is not a pill or a 'quick fix' though. For Yoga Therapy to truly work, you need to be willing to put the time in and work on yourself.
Though Yoga Therapy sessions can be run in small groups, they are more likely to be one-on-one. A very detailed assessment will occur, and a plan will be created with the needs and wants of the Yoga Therapy client. The plan will be adapted in order to optimize the benefits for the Yoga Therapy client as needed.
During a regular yoga class a detailed assessment will not occur, the needs of the group will most likely vary greatly and it will be up to the student to adapt the practice to their needs. There are still many benefits to a group yoga class but the experience is not personalized the way a Yoga Therapy session is.
Yoga Therapy looks at the whole self, or all the layers of the true self, using the five Koshas.
#1 The Physical Body (Annamaya)
#2 Energy Body (Pranamaya)
#3 Emotional Body (Manomaya)
#4 Wisdom Body (Vijananamaya)
#5 Bliss Body (Anandamaya)
Yoga Therapy uses the 8 limbs of Yoga in order to help empower the client with tools in order the manage the particular challenges they are currently experiencing. This can include yoga postures, breathing practices, guided imagery, meditation and lifestyle guidance through the ethics of yoga.
A Yoga Therapist is not meant to replace the medical professionals you currently work with, but are meant to be complimentary to your current medical treatment plan. Yoga Therapists work in conjunction with western healthcare providers including your physicians, physiotherapists, registered massage therapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, and mental health providers.
The IAYT has a Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibilities that all C-IAYT members must adhere to. If you wish to read the full code of ethics, click HERE
It includes a commitment to the student, to professionalism and to the public.