How to become a certified yoga therapist

5 min read

First, to get a deeper understanding of the difference between yoga and yoga therapy, I strongly recommend you read my piece, What is Yoga Therapy? Now that we have the definition clear, here are the steps on how to become a certified yoga therapist.

Step 1: Be a Yoga Teacher

You must first complete at least 200 training hours as a yoga instructor before you can become a therapist. As with many others, I began as a yoga instructor who wanted to learn more. My Yoga Teacher Training with Yogi Sivadas in the Himalayas gave me a solid foundation.

After a few years of teaching, I still had more questions. I wanted answers and skills to be able to work effectively with individuals and groups that have special needs, such as those suffering from PTSD, arthritis, or depression.

Traditional education was the only way I knew to get this information. I completed the basic science and pre-med course load in one year, which included biology, anatomy, and physiology, as well as psychology, chemistry, and physics. In addition, I took biomechanics to understand the way our brains and joints work. It wasn’t enough.

As an art major, I enjoyed the new perspective that my science education provided me, but this was not specific to yoga. Also, I wanted to learn more about yoga philosophy and practice.

Step 2: Find a Yoga Therapy Program that is Right for You

Next, you will need to locate a yoga therapy program of 800 hours that the International Association of Yoga Therapists accredits. This organization is known for its high standards and has been supporting the field for nearly 30 years. Here is a list of approved programs:

While I was working as a yoga teacher and studying on my own for several years, I did not know that I could look to be a yoga therapist. After I learned that advanced training programs covered the material I wanted, I began my search for the right one.

I spent several weeks researching programs online and sending emails to directors. I joined the first cohort of the Master of Science Grad Degree in Yoga Therapy at Maryland University of Integrative Health.

This was the perfect program for me as a nerd who values education and loves school. The program combined academic rigor and the rich tradition and philosophy of Yoga. The classes balanced reading the latest scientific research on the subject with profound meditations and yoga practices.

While I was learning the skills necessary to become a yoga practitioner, I also grew as a human being. There are many options out there, and you should choose the one that best suits you.

Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy is one program that focuses on spirituality and psychology. Some programs are based on specific lineages, such as the Viniyoga Therapy Training Program. Some, such as Inner Peace Yoga Therapy, allow you to choose and develop your expertise. Electives include Yoga Therapy for Cancer and Yoga Therapy for Depression and Anxiety, taught by experts.

Make your choice

Read the descriptions of each program.

Yoga therapy sessions are available from C-IAYT-certified yoga therapists.

Previous students can provide you with valuable information.

Choose the schedule and location that works best for you

You can ask to sit in on classes at accredited schools.

It is important to remember that there are no best programs or styles. Finding the right fit is important. Join IAYT or read their publications to find out more about this field and the program options.

Attending their annual professional conference in June is a great way to learn about the programs and talk with yoga therapists around the globe.

Step 3: Complete your program and do the work

IAYT-accredited programs last a minimum of two years. Some are longer. Each program is unique, but all include courses in anatomy related to yoga, biomedicine, and philosophy, as well as therapeutic skills and professional practice.

You will then apply your knowledge to a mentored clinical setting, where you get to actually work with clients under the guidance and supervision of experts. You will gain professional skills and expertise as well as lasting friendships.

Step 4: Apply through the International Association of Yoga Therapists

You can apply for certification as a yoga therapist after you complete steps #1-3. It took me about 30 minutes to complete the application, which included uploading my diploma and resume. You can do it in 30 minutes, including uploading your diploma and resume.

Step 5: Begin Your Career as a Yoga Therapy

The field of yoga therapy is a rapidly growing one. There are many ways to shape your career. I have a yoga therapy business where I work one-on-one with clients (including via Skype) and teach in hospitals, retirement communities, and the military. I also teach therapeutic workshops on arthritis and train people to be yoga teachers or therapists.

There are many possibilities. What can you do as a Yoga Therapist?

P.S. Please feel free to post any questions below. Please tag me with @annswanson so I can answer your questions.

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