Yoga Therapy Certification Practitioner and Client demonstrating

Photo of client Brittany Addison-Prescott and Yoga Therapy Bethany Dotson by Photographer Christian Leigh Sykora



Establishing yoga as a recognized therapy is the mission of the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). IAYT supports research and education in yoga and serves as a professional organization for yoga teachers and yoga therapists worldwide. Founded in 1989, IAYT has consistently championed yoga as a healing art and science. Membership is open to yoga practitioners, yoga teachers, yoga therapists, healthcare practitioners who use yoga in their practice, and yoga researchers.

IAYT is committed to a providing a professional certification (C-IAYT) that is internationally recognized and respected by yoga therapy practitioners and educators steeped in the yoga tradition, and by practitioners from other healthcare fields with whom yoga therapists work in partnership.

Certification is the latest pillar of the comprehensive self-regulatory initiative that IAYT began in 2007. This initiative has included developing educational standards for the training of yoga therapists, accrediting training programs that meet those standards beginning in 2014, and now a certification process for credentialing individual yoga therapists who meet IAYT’s standards.

IAYT certification provides recognition to yoga therapists that meet or exceed an established set of standards. It is a quality control mechanism whereby, through a credible, objective, peer-review process, a public stamp of approval is given to highly trained yoga therapists. Additionally, the requirements for ongoing certification help the wider community have confidence as IAYT-certified yoga therapists make a professional contribution to health, healing, and integrative healthcare environments.

With IAYT certification now well-established (over 1,100 C-IAYTs have been approved as of April, 2017), IAYT is now turning to focus on raising the profile of yoga therapy in integrative health environments and supporting yoga therapists who want to work in that area. They are also actively working to identify and support quality continuing education and professional development courses. Last, but certainly not least, it is time to focus on educating the public on what is yoga therapy, how it is different from yoga (at least in our contemporary environment), and especially, why someone might want to consider seeing an IAYT-certified yoga therapist because of their extensive and specialized training and experience.

There are articles and resources on the IAYT website about how yoga teaching is different from yoga therapy. For the grandparenting application, the elements that distinguish yoga therapy from yoga teaching (whether in one to one or group settings) will typically be:

You address specific condition(s) by providing yoga therapy sessions to address identified and defined conditions, with consideration for the individual circumstances and nature of each client. It does not include teaching students/clients yoga for life stages such as pregnancy or menopause, where there are no difficulties or conditions.

You conduct an intake appropriate to the individual client so that the session can be focused on their specific therapeutic needs and concerns.

You develop and deliver an appropriate yoga therapy intervention based on the information gathered in the intake and from your assessment of the client.

IAYT certifies individual yoga therapists under three eligibility pathways: graduation from an 800 hour IAYT-accredited yoga therapy training program OR through two grandparenting pathways.

Grandparenting refers to a process in which someone with the specified experience and expertise in a particular profession is granted certification along different pathways than others entering the profession. The grandparenting process usually begins just after a profession starts to certify practitioners and is limited to a prescribed period of time. As a field begins to develop standards, grandparenting is typically addressed in a generous way, respecting original training, continuing education, and experience.

The IAYT grandparenting process is similar to that of other emerging complementary and alternative medicine professions.

There are two pathways for grandparenting eligibility:
• Grandparenting Pathway 1:
Yoga therapists with at least 300 hours of formal yoga therapy training that began prior to 2014, a 200-hour teacher training program, and at least 150 hours of yoga therapy experience.

• Grandparenting Pathway 2:
Seasoned yoga therapists who may not have graduated from a 300-hour program, or indeed any formal training program at all, but began practicing as a yoga therapist prior to January 1, 2008 and have at least 1,000 hours of sustained yoga therapy experience across the years of practice.

If you are a practicing yoga therapist, you may be interested in applying NOW for certification by the International Association of Yoga Therapists ( The grandparenting option began in 2016 and will close soon, on June 30, 2017.

Visit the Certification pages on the IAYT website where there are resources to guide you and answer many questions. Begin with the Eligibility Chart to see which Pathway suits your scenario. Then, go to Apply Now for your Pathway and look at the documentation that will be required for the application. You will also find instructions, a link to all the policies and procedures you must read, a sample of the online application and the full Rules for the Pathway. Click on the FAQ page and Tips for applying for more clarification. For more information, visit: Attend the IAYT Symposium on Yoga Therapy and Research to learn more about the profession in Newport Beach, June 15-18:


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