There are many terms you might hear when looking into yoga studios and classes. They might seem confusingly similar. Yoga instructor. Yoga practitioner. Yoga teacher.
What is a Yoga Therapist, and how does a Yoga Therapist differ from the other options?
A Yoga Therapist is your personal guide to help you to a fuller, healthier life in body, mind, and spirit. A Yoga Therapist is your mentor who will individually assist you reach your personal goals.
Many typical yoga teachers do not have any formal training at all. Those who do choose to attend a yoga teacher class tend to take a standard 200-hour class which helps them understand proper pose alignment and breathing techniques.
For certification with the International Association of Yoga Therapists (C-IAYT), the bar is set far higher. To begin with, a full 120 hours are invested just in the foundation of yoga and how it helps the human body. Another 155 hours minimum delve into human anatomy and physiology. Mental health is also covered.
Then at least 140 hours cover the practical challenges involved in providing individual therapy to a person. The therapist is trained in how to develop a relationship with the patient where the patient can be both safely challenged and fully supported in their growth.
To ensure the Yoga Therapist has mastered their studies, there are at least 205 hours of practical hands-on demonstrations of these skills in a live patient environment. The Yoga Therapist is mentored and evaluated to ensure they have the very best of practices in supporting, encouraging and uplifting their patients.
There are even 30 hours of training dedicated to ensure the therapist understands all relative laws and ethical codes involved in being a therapist for an individual.
All of this in-depth training ensures a Yoga Therapist can act as a facilitator for a patient’s progress through a whole-person model. Where a physical therapist might simply focus on the pain in a knee joint, or a psychotherapist might simply look for a cause of yesterday’s stressful reaction, a Yoga Therapist understands the interactions of the entire body, mind, and spirit. The Yoga Therapist works with the patient holistically to get a sense of how all aspects of the person’s life are interconnected. The Yoga Therapist can then work from all angles to help the patient come to a place of peace, health, and contentment.
A Yoga Therapist understands the anatomy of muscular imbalances. They understand how breathing problems can lead to issues with health. They know both the mental and physical underlying causes of stress, insomnia, poor health, and other issues. They can, therefore, incorporate changes in body movement, breathing, meditation, and mental focus to bring about total body health.
There are times when a patient goes through physical therapy and finds they are only “sort of” healed. The full issue was never resolved. This is where a Yoga Therapist can step in and evaluate the person as a whole. By looking at the entire picture, and taking in all the details, a Yoga Therapist can bring the patient through their challenges to a fully healed state.
If you’ve only ever attended a standard yoga class before, you might be familiar with the standard style where a group of people enters a classroom, they all do a series of poses in unison, perhaps with a few modifications for those with challenges, and then the class is over. The students in the class disperse and go their separate ways.
Yoga Therapy brings the application of yoga to focus in fully on you, your health, your dreams, and your aspirations. The in-depth training of the Yoga Therapist allows them to work with you on your specific challenges, whether they are mental, physical, or both. The Yoga Therapist becomes a partner in your path toward a better, happier you.