Yoga therapy is the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and wellbeing through the application of the teachings and practices of yoga.
Yoga is a scientific system of self-investigation, self-transformation, and self-realisation that originated in India. The teachings of yoga are rooted in the Vedas and grounded in classical texts and a rich oral tradition. This tradition recognises that the human being’s essential nature is an unchanging awareness that exists in relationship to and identification with the changing phenomena of the empirical world.
The yoga tradition views humans as a multi-dimensional system that includes all aspects of the body; breath; mind; intellect; and emotions and their mutual interaction. Yoga is founded on the basic principle that intelligent practice can positively influence the direction of change within these human dimensions, which are distinct from an individual’s unchanging nature or spirit.
The practices of yoga traditionally include but are not limited to, asana, pranayama, meditation, mantra, chanting, mudra, ritual, and a disciplined lifestyle. Yoga therapy is the appropriate application of these teachings and practices in a therapeutic context to support a consistent yoga practice that will increase self-awareness and engage the client/student’s energy in the direction of desired goals. The goals of yoga therapy include eliminating, reducing, or managing symptoms that cause suffering; improving function; helping to prevent the occurrence or reoccurrence of underlying causes of illness; and moving toward improved health and wellbeing. Yoga therapy also helps clients/students change their relationship to and identification with their condition,
The practice of yoga therapy requires specialised training and skill development to support the relationship between the client/student and therapist and to effect positive change for the individual.
Yoga therapy is informed by its sister science, Ayurveda. As part of a living tradition, yoga therapy continues to evolve and adapt to the cultural context in which it is practiced, and today, it is also informed by contemporary health sciences. Its efficacy is supported by an increasing body of research evidence, which contributes to the growing understanding and acceptance of its value as a therapeutic discipline.
Yoga Australia’s Educational Standards for the Training of Yoga Therapists are the benchmark for yoga therapy education in Australia and New Zealand. These Standards represent the foundational requirements for a program to become accredited to deliver training of an appropriate quality.
Yoga Australia’s Educational Standards for the Training of Yoga Therapists provide an important pillar for the growth and maturing of the field of yoga therapy in Australia and New Zealand and are aimed at:
> Supporting the professional and vocational development of yoga therapists.
> Establishing yoga therapy as a credible and valued modality within the broader field of integrative healthcare.
> Providing clear guidelines and parameters for schools wishing to deliver credible yoga therapy training.
> Provide a well-recognised and respected accreditation framework and process for yoga therapy education.
> Provide career path guidelines for yoga teachers wishing to further develop their skill and knowledge in the area of yoga therapy.
Further, the Standards:
> Emphasise the importance of yoga as the ancient tradition in which yoga therapy is rooted and from which its innumerable healing applications have sprung.
> Acknowledge the hours necessary to teach the competencies as a therapeutic discipline but also the time needed for students to integrate the depth and breadth of the teachings as a personal lifestyle and practice.
> Recognise that to serve the clients of yoga therapy; yoga therapists must be grounded in the foundations of anatomy, basic physiology, and the common terminology of modern healthcare.
> Recognise that developing a therapeutic relationship is the hallmark of person-centred therapy.
> Acknowledge that yoga therapists are in a relationship with related healthcare professions and the business world more broadly.
These Standards recognise that it is the prerogative of each school to teach from its own unique perspective, and have allowed for flexibility regarding which tools to emphasise within and beyond the required knowledge of certain subjects.
Yoga Australia acknowledges and thanks the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) for its Educational Standards, upon which some of these standards are based.
While these Standards relate to the accrediting of training programs, the credentialing of individual yoga therapists is also related to these Standards. Yoga Australia has separately published guidelines and application processes for registration as a yoga therapist.