You’ve been a Yoga Teacher for a while and are looking for your next step to go deeper. Or maybe you’ve seen how much better people feel after a Yoga practice and are seeking to improve your one-on-one teaching skills. Maybe you’ve been to a Yoga Therapist and have experienced the healing qualities of Yoga and want to become one yourself. If any of these sound familiar, you should consider studying Yoga Therapy. Here’s what you need to become a Yoga Therapist:

Yoga Teacher Training (YTT)

At a minimum, you need to have completed the 200-hour YTT. It’s important to have the foundation of Yoga Philosophy, an understanding of the techniques and have learned some teaching skills. Because teaching is the best way to learn, ideally you’ll have also spent some time as a teacher. It’s only when you see Yoga in practice that you can start to see where students tend to have questions and obstacles, as well as your own.


Anatomy, Physiology, and Psychology

Yoga Therapy works very heavily in these three studies of the human body and has its own specific understanding of them. You need to know how the healthy body functions. In addition, it’s important understand how diseases, disorders, and imbalances look like and affect the body. You’ll need to be aware of the warning signs when a patient or practitioner’s symptoms require medical attention. You also need to know how the mind reacts to pain and dysfunction in order to provide proper emotional support. 


Western Medicine and Alternative Wellness

Because most of us in the United States will wind up in a doctor’s office if we’re feeling bad, Yoga Therapy includes knowledge of the Western or allopathic medical field approaches diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders. Also knowing Ayurveda and other alternative wellness approaches is important. Patients who seek out Yoga Therapy for treatment are dissatisfied with medical treatment and are looking for something else. 


Business Management

There are a lot of possible avenues to practice as a Yoga Therapist, but all of them require working knowledge of how to run a business. Billing, keeping patient records, setting hours, managing your patient time, and your business operations time. It all adds up. Knowing how to run and manage a business is the less fulfilling part of becoming a Yoga Therapist, but still very much worth the reward.

Once you’ve decided that Yoga Therapy is the path for you, the fact is there’s a lot of work ahead of you. The 800-hour certification program takes at least two years to complete, so it’s really important to find a Yoga Therapist Training program that works for you. 


Find the Right Program

The International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) is your primary resource for finding all the accredited programs that are available. Take the time to read their websites: look at their philosophy and techniques, read their instructors’ bios. Schedule a few sessions with their certified Yoga Therapists; make sure their training schedule works for you. How do they support their students? Do they provide a mentor or advocate? 


Figure Out Why You Want to Become a Yoga Therapist

Why do you want to become a Yoga Therapist? Do you want to specialize in a particular aspect? There are a variety of concentrations, from Yoga Therapy for cancer patients to treatment of anxiety disorders, even HIV/AIDS. The program at the Yoga Well Institute is based in the tradition of Viniyoga, and offers a program for Yoga Therapy in almost any area. Do some research on the options that are available. This will become the focus of your training.  


What to Expect?

Once you’ve found your focus and your program, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you to become a Yoga Therapist. There will be a lot of studying and classes to take through the program you choose. If you don’t already have a medical background, community colleges often have anatomy courses for students pursuing wellness career paths. There will also be apprenticeships and on-the-job training. 


Where Do Yoga Therapists Work?

Because patients are looking for alternatives to Western medicine, Yoga Therapy is growing in popularity, and the demand is there. Yoga Therapists can be found in hospitals and clinics. Medical clinics are starting to find success in integrating alternative wellness options into their practices. Yoga Therapists have private practices. Even retirement communities are finding their residents benefit from Yoga Therapy. The IAYT is a great resource for finding opportunities too.

It sounds like a lot, but getting to help people bring their bodies into balance and become healthier versions of themselves is all worth it! Being a Yoga Therapist is one of the most rewarding fields of alternative wellness as you watch your patients grow in health and confidence.


The Yoga Well Institute Difference

We are representatives of an authentic tradition of yoga. Our curriculum is extensive and rich and includes both intellectual and experiential elements at every step. And our program offers extensive, one-to-one mentoring for both your teaching and your personal practice. If you’re interested in learning more about Yoga Therapy at the Yoga Well Institute, you can find more information on our Yoga Therapist Training Program page.