Yoga, Therapeutic Yoga, and Yoga Therapy
Isn't all yoga therapeutic? What differentiates yoga, therapeutic yoga, and yoga therapy?
Joseph Le Page, founder and director of Integrative Yoga Therapy, sums up the difference between a yoga therapist and a yoga teacher concisely in stating:
“The skill set is much more extensive, not only as far as the communication [with the client] but also the ability to make modifications and the understanding of anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and yoga philosophy as it relates to health and healing and to the nervous system. We give students the principles and the tools, the foundation and the direction, so they can develop their own treatment protocols for each unique individual”
— JOSEPH LE PAGE
Spectrum Yoga provides therapeutic yoga services from intensive training in Kripalu's 800hr Professional Yoga Therapist Program - a complete system of applying yoga purposefully to support an individual holistically - not just the symptoms. The training towards yoga therapy is very different than a standard 200 hour teacher training (as well as week-long therapeutic yoga trainings) in that it is a complete system involving many years of studying yoga therapy protocols, the nervous system, advanced anatomy and physiology, functional movement, mental health, all contraindications of yoga (not just movement), and yoga philosophy. In addition to all of that, aspiring yoga therapists must complete an intensive internship with an assigned mentor. This alone takes 1-2 years to complete. According to Prana Yoga Institute, yoga therapy training is equivalent to two masters degrees.
Of course many seasoned teachers meet, and some exceed, this educational equivalency due to the continued education requirements as well as deep devotion to their role. And, one is not better than the other, they are simply different.
In Kripalu's 800hr Professional Yoga Therapist Program, we are trained by medical doctors, seasoned yoga therapists, physical therapists, functional movement specialists, nutritionists and Ayurvedic specialists, and psychiatrists. This unique blend of specialized professional lecturers provides a deeper understanding in yoga, special populations, the impacts of yoga therapy techniques on human physiology, and individualized protocol development. It is the mission of the International Association of Yoga Therapists to "establish yoga therapy as a recognized and respected therapy." This alone creates a higher standard of training and education for those going through any yoga therapy program.
Those who claim to offer therapeutic yoga should have training in yoga therapy or training from a 200hr therapeutic yoga program. While all yoga is therapeutic, there are many factors to mind when attending a yoga class for a specific need, goal, or health consideration.