UPDATED: Friday, December 1, 2023 @ 11:36 am PST
Are you passionate about the transformative power of yoga and eager to help others heal and find balance in their lives? If so, embarking on a journey to become a yoga therapist and a career in yoga therapy might be the fulfilling path you’ve been seeking. Alternately, if you work in another healing modality such as physical therapy, massage, nursing, mental health therapy, etc, you may find yoga therapy enhances and informs your current career. Yoga therapy is a holistic approach to well-being that combines the ancient wisdom of yoga with modern science, enabling practitioners to assist individuals in achieving physical, mental, and emotional harmony.
In this blog, we will explore the exciting and rewarding journey of becoming a yoga therapist and a career in yoga therapy from understanding the core principles to the necessary steps for pursuing a career in this unique field. Whether you’re an experienced yogi looking to deepen your practice or someone completely new to the world of yoga therapy, this guide will provide you with valuable insights to help you take your first steps towards becoming a certified yoga therapist and building a career in yoga therapy.
What is Yoga Therapy?
Yoga therapy is a holistic and personalized approach to health and well-being that integrates the age-old wisdom of yoga with modern scientific understanding. Unlike traditional yoga classes, which are often designed for general fitness and relaxation, yoga therapy is tailored to meet the unique needs and challenges of individuals. Yoga therapy aims to promote healing and balance in various aspects of one’s life, including physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Yoga therapy is a specialized discipline within the realm of yoga that leverages a comprehensive toolkit, including yoga postures (asanas), pranayama (breathing techniques), mindfulness meditation, and other components of the yoga tradition. Yoga therapy has a primary objective to facilitate individuals in attaining a state of holistic well-being encompassing physical, mental, and emotional facets of their health.
Yoga therapy has gained significant recognition and is rapidly expanding as a respected modality. Yoga therapy is garnering increased attention not only in public hospitals, private clinics, and non-profit organizations but also among the general public. A primary catalyst behind this growth in the use of yoga therapy is the substantial body of research supporting its effectiveness. As high-quality studies continue to unveil the measurable benefits of Yoga therapy, the demand for qualified Yoga Therapists continues to grow and careers in yoga therapy are taking off!
What is a Yoga Therapist?
A yoga therapist is a highly trained and compassionate professional who specializes in utilizing yoga as a therapeutic tool to support individuals in achieving optimal health and wellness. They are experts in adapting and tailoring the principles and practices of yoga to address the unique physical, mental, and emotional needs of their clients.
Through extensive training and certification, yoga therapists gain an in-depth understanding of the human body, mind, and the intricate connection between the two. They work one-on-one or in small groups to create personalized yoga programs, combining postures, breathing exercises, meditation, and other therapeutic techniques to help clients manage and alleviate a wide range of health concerns.
Whether it’s helping individuals recover from injuries, manage chronic pain, reduce stress, improve mental health, or enhance overall vitality, yoga therapists play a vital role in promoting holistic health, empowering clients to take an active role in their healing journey. Their guidance and support enable individuals to harness the transformative power of yoga, ultimately leading to a healthier and more balanced life.
Yoga therapists work closely with their clients to develop personalized practices that may include yoga postures, breathing exercises, meditation, and other therapeutic techniques. This individualized approach allows yoga therapy to address a wide range of conditions, from physical ailments like back pain and arthritis to mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression.
By harnessing the profound healing potential of yoga, yoga therapy empowers individuals to take an active role in their health and wellness, leading to greater self-awareness and an improved quality of life.
How to know if you would make a good Yoga Therapist
In the pursuit of a career in yoga therapy, it’s essential to reflect on whether you possess the qualities and attributes that would make you excel in this rewarding profession. The first and foremost requirement is a deep passion for yoga and its therapeutic potential, as well as a genuine desire to help others on their journey to wellness. Empathy and excellent communication skills are equally vital, as you’ll be working closely with individuals from various backgrounds and health conditions, requiring a compassionate and understanding approach.
Additionally, a strong commitment to continuous learning and self-growth is crucial in staying updated with the latest research and practices in the field of yoga therapy. Patience, adaptability, and the ability to create personalized plans are also key traits, as each client’s needs are unique.
If you find yourself drawn to these qualities and the idea of positively impacting people’s lives through yoga, then you may indeed have what it takes to become successful in the field of yoga therapy. This blog will guide you through the journey of self-discovery and the steps required to embark on this fulfilling path toward a career in yoga therapy.
How to Become a Yoga Therapist
Regularly attend yoga classes and establish a personal yoga practice
Attending regular yoga classes is a crucial stepping stone on the path to becoming involved in a yoga therapy career. These classes serve as a foundational learning experience that enables you to deepen your understanding of yoga’s philosophy, postures, and therapeutic potential. By participating in group sessions, you not only refine your own practice but also gain invaluable insights into how various individuals with different abilities and needs respond to yoga. It allows you to observe different teaching styles and methodologies, helping you develop a well-rounded perspective on yoga instruction.
Furthermore, the sense of community and connection you foster in regular classes can enhance your interpersonal skills and empathy, which are essential qualities for working in yoga therapy. So, consider regular yoga classes as both a learning laboratory and a source of inspiration that will equip you with the knowledge and skills necessary to support others effectively on their healing journeys.
Education for Yoga Therapists
Take a 200 Hour Therapeutic Yoga Teacher Training Course
The first step to working in yoga therapy or becoming a yoga therapist is becoming a yoga instructor. To do so you will need to complete a 200-Hour YTT. This level of education as a yoga teacher is a prerequisite to all yoga therapy programs. Upon the successful completion of a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) program, registered with Yoga Alliance, you’ll find yourself well-prepared for the subsequent significant step toward yoga therapy training and becoming a proficient yoga therapist.
This foundational training is thoughtfully designed to furnish you with the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary for your journey in the world of yoga. Within the framework of the 200-hour YTT program, you’ll delve into a wide array of aspects, including the intricacies of anatomy, the subtleties of physiology, the profound wisdom of yoga philosophy, mastering the nuances of asana alignment, and refining your abilities in teaching techniques. This comprehensive curriculum ensures that you gain a solid and well-rounded understanding of the physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions of yoga. All of this knowledge will be beneficial to you moving forward in a career in yoga therapy.
Arguably one of the most invaluable facets of this training experience is the opportunity for practical application. You’ll not only be able to witness and learn from seasoned instructors in action but also have the privilege of taking the lead in guiding fellow students through yoga practices. This hands-on experience is pivotal, as it not only bolsters your confidence but also sharpens your skills in connecting with and guiding individuals in their yoga journeys. These experiences are particularly crucial for those with aspirations to work with individuals seeking therapeutic benefits from yoga, as they provide you with a deeper insight into the diverse needs and expectations of your future clients in yoga therapy.
Look for Therapeutic Yoga Teacher Training Programs
Understanding the distinction between a therapeutic YTT program and a standard YTT program is pivotal for aspiring yoga therapists. While both programs provide comprehensive knowledge of yoga principles and teaching techniques, the primary difference lies in their focus and depth. A standard YTT program equips you with the skills to lead general yoga classes, emphasizing physical postures, alignment, and breath control.
In contrast, a therapeutic YTT program delves deeper into the therapeutic applications of yoga, teaching you to work with individuals who have specific health concerns or conditions. You’ll learn how to adapt and customize yoga practices to address various physical and mental health needs, making it ideal for those who aspire to guide clients in their healing journey. Both programs offer valuable insights, but the therapeutic track provides specialized tools to effectively serve those seeking the therapeutic benefits of yoga, fostering a deeper connection between the practice and holistic health.
Learn From Certified Yoga Therapists
For those individuals who hold a strong desire to become a yoga therapist, it is highly advisable to opt for a 200-hour YTT program led by instructors who hold certification from the Certified International Association of Yoga Therapists (C-IAYT). This selection ensures that your foundational training seamlessly aligns with the professional standards and principles of yoga therapy, offering a robust base for your future specialization in this profoundly transformative field. This elevated level of expertise in yoga and yoga therapy and alignment with the established standards of yoga therapy will prove to be instrumental as you journey towards becoming a respected and accomplished yoga therapist, enabling you to make a meaningful and enduring impact on the well-being of the individuals you serve. This also ensures that your instructors are qualified to be teaching yoga therapy perspectives and yoga therapy methodology.
Additional Yoga Teacher Training
To enroll in a yoga therapy program, you must first obtain a teaching certification from a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga School (RYS®) or an equivalent institution. But you also have the option of taking additional training before going to train in yoga therapy. We always recommend reaching the highest level of YTT and experience before pursuing training in yoga therapy. The type of certification you receive is contingent upon the number of hours completed in your teacher training, as well as other qualifying factors. These teaching certifications come in various categories which are set by Yoga Alliance:
- Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT®) 200
- RYT® 500
- E-RYT® 200
- E-RYT® 500
Yoga Teaching Hours and Experience Level
The “E” in E-RYT, whether it’s E-RYT 200 or E-RYT 500, signifies “Experienced” and represents a higher level of expertise and teaching experience within the yoga community. An E-RYT has completed the required hours for their respective certification (either 200 or 500) and, in addition, has accrued a significant amount of teaching hours. This experience ensures that E-RYT instructors have a deeper understanding of yoga and its various applications, making them particularly well-equipped to guide students effectively and provide more advanced instruction. Their “Experienced” status is a testament to their commitment and dedication to the practice of yoga and the art of teaching, offering students a higher level of expertise and guidance set by Yoga Alliance.
Specialized Yoga Teacher Trainings
Furthermore, there are specialized certifications available for those who wish to focus on specific areas of yoga instruction. These include the Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher (RPYT®) and Registered Children’s Yoga Teacher (RCYT®) designations. It’s essential to note that RPYT® and RCYT® certifications do not fulfill the complete 200-hour requirement needed to become a certified yoga teacher. These additional training certifications may be something you want to pursue if you expect your career in yoga therapy may involve working with pregnant or youth populations.
After successfully completing your 200-hour YTT program, and becoming a certified yoga teacher, the pursuit of teaching experience is a vital next step in your journey towards becoming a yoga therapist and yoga therapy training. This phase allows you to apply the foundational knowledge and skills acquired during your YTT in a practical and hands-on setting. While the YTT equips you with essential theoretical insights, teaching hours is where you put that knowledge into action, refine your teaching style, and develop the crucial art of connecting with your students.
Benefits of Yoga Teaching Experience
One of the primary benefits of gaining teaching hours prior to pursuing training in yoga therapy is the opportunity to build confidence. Teaching yoga to a diverse group of individuals exposes you to different body types, abilities, and personalities. As you navigate these variations, your self-assurance as an instructor grows, allowing you to better adapt to the unique needs and preferences of your future clients as a yoga therapist.
Teaching hours also sharpen your ability to effectively communicate and offer personalized guidance which will greatly benefit anyone pursuing a career in yoga therapy. You’ll learn to give clear instructions, adjust poses, and modify practices to accommodate the needs of your students, skills that are invaluable when working with clients who may have specific health concerns or conditions. Furthermore, teaching experience fosters a deeper understanding of the principles of sequencing, pacing, and class management, ensuring that you can create well-structured and safe sessions tailored to individual requirements. Knowing all of these skills like the back of your hand will only make you more proficient at yoga therapy.
Moreover, as you lead yoga classes and engage with students, you will witness the transformative power of yoga firsthand. This is deeply motivating for those studying yoga therapy. Observing how yoga positively impacts the physical, mental, and emotional wellness of your students provides valuable motivation and reaffirms your commitment to the path of yoga therapy. This real-world experience is an essential stepping stone towards becoming a credible and effective yoga therapist, as it enables you to bridge the gap between theory and practice, ultimately empowering you to guide others on their healing journeys with confidence and empathy. This is what learning and practicing yoga therapy is all about.
Gain Additional Education in Yoga Therapy
Once you have successfully completed your 200-hour YTT program, the journey towards becoming a yoga therapist continues with a deeper dive into the world of yoga therapy training. This phase of education is essential for honing your expertise in using yoga as a powerful therapeutic tool to assist clients in achieving their health and wellness objectives on their yoga therapy journey. The transition from a yoga teacher to a yoga therapist entails acquiring specialized knowledge and skills that go beyond general yoga instruction which will be covered in yoga therapy training to become a certified yoga therapist.
To embark on this specialized path of yoga therapy training, yoga teachers who are aspiring yoga therapists can opt to pursue a yoga therapy certification through a recognized yoga therapy program via a qualified training organization or yoga therapy school. Each registered yoga therapy program is meticulously designed to equip you with a profound understanding of the therapeutic aspects of yoga and empower you to cater to individuals with specific health concerns, injuries, or conditions.
It is important to note that a yoga therapy program will typically demand a substantial commitment in terms of time and effort, often requiring a minimum of 800 additional hours of training. This extended curriculum in a yoga therapy training delves into the nuances of adapting yoga practices for therapeutic purposes, understanding the intricacies of various health conditions, and developing a tailored approach for each client’s unique needs. Yoga Therapy training encompasses a combination of in-person and online coursework, offering flexibility to accommodate various learning styles and schedules.
Finding a Yoga Therapy Training
The International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) serves as a reputable resource for individuals seeking accredited schools and yoga therapy courses that meet their high standards. By consulting their list of accredited institutions and yoga therapy programs, you can ensure that the education you receive aligns with industry best practices and is recognized by the broader yoga therapy community. It is essential that you find a yoga therapy training which is a good fit for you!
In summary, the journey from a 200-hour YTT graduate to a yoga therapy certification is a transformative one that involves extensive education and dedication. It’s a pathway to becoming a highly skilled professional capable of guiding individuals on their healing journey using the profound wisdom of yoga. By enrolling in an accredited yoga therapy program, you’ll deepen your knowledge and understanding, setting the stage for a fulfilling and impactful career as a yoga therapist.
Career Development for Yoga Therapists
Choosing a specialty is a pivotal aspect of your journey towards becoming a proficient yoga therapist and working confidently in the yoga therapy field. Specialization allows you to focus on specific areas of health and wellness when studying yoga therapy, such as stress management, chronic pain, or addiction. While your foundational training equips you with a broad understanding of yoga therapy, diving deeper into a specialization will require additional training and education.
Consider attending yoga therapy workshops, conferences, and specialized training programs that align with your chosen area of expertise. These opportunities will not only enhance your knowledge but also provide you with a unique skill set to better serve your clients in their journey to wellness.
Gain Clinical Experience in Yoga Therapy
Clinical experience is an indispensable component in the development of a successful yoga therapist. It is during these real-world experiences that you will have the chance to apply your knowledge, refine your skills, and build your confidence in working with clients. Volunteering your services at local hospitals, rehabilitation centers, or community organizations is an excellent way to gain practical experience.
Alternatively, you can seek opportunities to work in private practice with private clients, gradually building your own client base. Clinical experience not only hones your abilities but also deepens your understanding of the diverse needs and challenges clients may present, making you a more effective and empathetic yoga therapist.
Employment for Yoga Therapists
As a qualified yoga therapist, the employment opportunities are diverse and abound in various healthcare and wellness settings. You may find yourself working in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, or clinics, where you can collaborate with healthcare professionals to assist patients in their recovery journey. Yoga therapists are also valued in mental health facilities, helping individuals manage stress, anxiety, and depression. Yoga therapy can extend its healing touch to wellness centers and gyms, offering classes and one-on-one sessions to clients seeking holistic well-being.
Many yoga therapists choose to establish their own private practices for yoga therapy sessions, providing tailored services to individuals with specific health concerns. Additionally, community centers and schools often welcome yoga therapists to conduct classes and workshops, fostering wellness in the local community. By pursuing a career as a yoga therapist, you have the flexibility to choose the path that resonates most with your aspirations, whether it’s working in established institutions or creating your own practice to serve clients in a personalized and meaningful way.
Join a Professional Association like the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT)
Joining a professional association dedicated to yoga therapy is a wise choice that can significantly benefit your career. Associations like the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) provide a wealth of advantages. By staying connected with fellow professionals and keeping up with evolving industry trends, you’ll remain at the forefront of the field.
Moreover, membership often grants you exclusive access to ongoing educational resources, ensuring that you can continuously expand your knowledge and skills, ultimately offering a higher standard of care to your clients.
Gain Licensure if Required
In some states, seeking licensure may be a requirement to practice yoga therapy. Licensure criteria can vary from one state to another but typically involve the completion of a recognized yoga therapy training program, a designated amount of clinical experience, and successful completion of a licensure examination.
To ensure compliance with your state’s regulations, it’s crucial to thoroughly research and understand the licensure requirements applicable to your area. Taking the necessary steps to obtain licensure, if required, will further validate your status as a certified and reputable yoga therapist, allowing you to practice your craft with confidence and integrity.
In conclusion, the journey to becoming a yoga therapist is a fulfilling and transformative one, rooted in a deep passion for yoga’s healing potential and a commitment to helping others achieve holistic wellness. It entails a progression from foundational YTT to specialized knowledge in therapeutic applications.
Through additional education, clinical experience, and potential licensure, you will evolve into a skilled and empathetic practitioner, capable of guiding individuals on their healing journeys. Your choice of specialization, whether in stress coping, pain relief, or other areas, allows you to tailor your expertise and make a meaningful impact on your clients’ lives.
Ultimately, as a yoga therapist, you have the privilege of working in a wide array of settings, from healthcare institutions to owning your own practice, where you can use your unique skills to empower individuals on their path to physical, mental, and emotional wellness. This journey is not only professionally rewarding but also deeply enriching, as you witness the profound positive changes that yoga therapy can bring to the lives of those you serve.
Therapeutic Yoga Teacher Training Opportunity with Soma Yoga Institute
Yoga has become more and more mainstream over the last few decades. And because of this, finding safe and sane practices, that leave students uninjured and empowered, has become increasingly difficult. There is a huge gap in the demand for yoga teachers that are truly qualified to teach.
Soma Yoga Institute was founded to fill the growing need for high-quality instructors by educating our students in modern biomechanics, while merging the best of ancient practices to create an in-depth yoga program that leaves our instructors with a foundation of safety, strength and skill.
At Soma Yoga Institute, we know that you want a comprehensive YTT to become an expert instructor, so that you can help your students reach their health and wellness goals. For more than a decade, our world-class instructors have helped thousands of students, like you, immerse in high-quality therapeutic yoga training and become sought-out instructors in their area.
We are dedicated to helping you receive the highest-quality education in the yoga space, so that your students will experience true breakthroughs and transformation in their yoga journey, safely. We are also dedicated to supporting your personal transformation in your own yoga practice.
We give you world-class instruction on a variety of topics including:
• Alignment & anatomy biomechanics.
• Strong foundation of safety
• Application of the radical self honoring philosophy to help shift belief systems
• Findings from NEW evidence based research
• Ancient Yoga wisdom & philosophies
• Working with private clients with injuries, aging bodies and all fitness levels
• And more!
The safe, therapeutic and adaptive techniques you’ll learn in our Yoga trainings will keep your own body safe and free of repetitive strain injuries for a life time of Yoga as you learn to train others. Our mission is that you leave your YTT with Soma Yoga Institute with the knowledge and skills you need to thrive as a yoga instructor.
The process to get started is simple: choose from the curated destinations of your training, secure your spot, and begin your transformation. If you are ready to help others through therapeutic yoga, sign-up today.