How To Become A Certified Yoga Therapist

accessible business health school therapy yoga Feb 22, 2022

IAYT Yoga Therapists are Yoga Therapists certified by the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). Throughout the world there are different yoga therapy certifications offered. In 1989, two American Psychologists and researchers, Dr. Richard Miller and Dr. Larry Payne, founded the International Association of Yoga Therapy as an organization. IAYT’s mission is to offer yoga as a healing art and science through further education and research. This growing non-profit organization has more than 5000 members in over 50 countries. Although anyone can join IAYT, in order to be certified as a Yoga Therapist, one must complete a two-year thousand-hour training that is accredited through IAYT in order to apply for certification. 

Currently, over 66 organizations offer IAYT approved programs in 5 continents. These schools offer an intensive 2 year-long program. Each school must create a unique curriculum that meets IAYT's standards and apply to be accredited. Most schools ask applicants to have completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training (YTT), or the equivalent. Others ask applicants to be at least an experienced 200 hour yoga teacher, having taught at a minimum 1000 hours of yoga. Those who have completed 300 hour YTT may enroll in specific schools offering shortened certification programs. As of today, only Maryland’s University of integrative Health offers a graduate degree program in yoga therapy, approved by IAYT. 


To qualify as an IAYT school, organizations must offer at least 800 hours upon completion of their Yoga Therapist certification. Some schools offer advanced yoga therapy programs with over 1000, or even 1500 hours of training upon completion. Therefore, it’s a good idea to do some research when comparing and selecting programs offered. 

Upon completion of an IAYT approved program, you may apply with the IAYT to have the initials C-IAYT added as title. These initials stand for ‘Certified International Association of Yoga Therapist’.  A prerequisite to receiving this title is that the applicant becomes a member of IAYT. Most students will already have joined IAYT once interested in certification as IAYT approved yoga therapists. IAYT will review the application and program completion before approving the new title. Most times, applicants can expect a response within a few weeks and an approval letter.

C-IAYT’s may offer private yoga therapy sessions or work for an organization offering yoga therapy. Hospitals and rehabilitation facilities are beginning to include complementary therapies such as yoga therapy.

When working as a yoga therapist in a hospital most C-IAYT’s are part of a healthcare team. There may be group yoga therapy offered for specific health related areas, such as for cardio or cancer patients. Rehabilitation facilities may hire yoga therapists to work with clients after surgery once cleared by their doctor. Some mental health providers offer group yoga therapy for those recovering from substance abuse or eating disorders. 

Corporate businesses are increasingly aware of the large impact wellness has on their employee’s work performance. Stress is a top reason for clients seeking yoga therapy, and stress is often caused by work environments. Thankfully, more and more health care facilities and businesses recognize the importance of incorporating holistic methods to increase wellness and healing. 

C-IAYT’s must also adhere to the scope of practice and ethics outlined by IAYT. This agreement must be signed when applying to become a C-IAYT. Most professionals and those working in healthcare have to agree to similar guidelines before stepping into their career. 

Yoga therapists may use this certification as a valuable addition to their existing career. Nurses, mental healthcare professionals, and teachers may become IAYT Yoga Therapists. Some individuals simply enjoy learning more about yoga to better their own well-being and that of their family or loved ones. Parents and caretakers seek out alternative ways to live harmoniously within their family unit or in their greater community. Other IAYT yoga therapists received their certification to deepen their knowledge of yoga, to maybe experience enlightenment or enjoy the spiritual aspect of yoga.

Yoga Therapy goes beyond teaching yoga in that it dives deeper into the vast subjects of yoga from therapeutic, holistic approach. IAYT yoga therapists look at an individual and themselves as having 5 energetic bodies. The core concept in yoga therapy is to utilize this knowledge, that there’s more to a person than just their visible, physical body.

Ancient yogic philosophy recognizes that there are 5 sheaths, or koshas encompassing a being. The outermost energetic body is the physical body, or Annamaya Kosha. Below that one has a breath body or pranamaya kosha. The 3rd sheath is known as the mind body, or manomaya kosha. A person’s intuition or wisdom represents the 4th sheath, vijnanamaya kosha. At the core of any being is a bliss body, recognized as the 5th and most subtle sheath, Anandamaya kosha.

IAYT yoga therapists mindfully integrate this knowledge of the 5 interconnection energy bodies when working with clients. Individuals who suffer and experience discomfort seek out a C-IAYT to learn to help themselves. Western lifestyle and medicine often causes codependency and dependency on others or medication. Yoga therapists offer tools which empower clients to reduce physical, mental, or emotional discomfort independently. This makes IAYT yoga therapists experts in yoga as a healing art and science.