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Medical Therapeutic Yoga Series: A New Movement in Healthcare

Posted October 10, 2016

Desi Rotenberg, MS, LAT, ATC

By Desi Rotenberg, MS, LAT, ATC

Medical therapeutic yoga is a new movement within the rehabilitative realm that is quickly becoming more widely accepted as a pragmatic route to improving physical, emotional and mental well-being. There has been a paradigm shift within the medical field, as yoga therapy becomes more and more integrated into healthcare. Furthermore, yoga therapy is becoming more popular in the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries.

The core premise and philosophy behind medical therapeutic yoga is to understand your own limitations to be able to deliver the safest and best care possible. This includes a comprehensive understanding of the human anatomy and the treatment of specific diseases, disabilities or disorders. Additionally, in order to become a yoga therapist, a medical professional must have knowledge of indications and contraindications for safe breathing practices, as well as a strong knowledge base in various yogic practices to ensure patient safety.1

In 2012, the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) advisory board approved the educational standards for the training of yoga. This approval opened the door for medical therapeutic yoga to be held to competency-based educational standards. Although, Yoga Therapy is not governed nor regulated by the IAYT. The focus is on entry-level requirements for the training of yoga therapists and includes a definition of yoga therapy and training requirements. The goal for any organization when developing competency-based standards “is to define the foundational knowledge and skills required for the safe and effective practice of yoga therapy.”2

The Scope of Practice for yoga therapy can be found here: http://www.iayt.org/news/308692/IAYT-Updates-Scope-of-Practice.htm.3

The Professional Yoga Therapy Certification can be a post-certification option for Athletic Trainers who are interested in furthering their knowledge base. The Professional Yoga Therapy Institute (PYTI) is one of several institutes who offer both continuing education courses and a full professional certification.

The PYTI defines medical therapeutic yoga as “the practice of yoga in medicine, rehabilitation, and wellness settings by a licensed health care professional who is completing or has graduated from the Professional Yoga Therapy Institute program and has been credentialed as a Professional Yoga Therapist-Candidate or Professional Yoga Therapist.”4

Becoming a medical yoga therapist is not for everyone. While knowledge is essential to a medical professional’s success as a practitioner, the journey of accruing wisdom holds an even greater weight. The uniqueness of this new field focuses on the well-being of the patient, while also ensuring the individual who practices medical therapeutic yoga is able to achieve a balance within every aspect of their life, both professionally and personally.

More information on medical yoga therapy and becoming a professional yoga therapist, can be found at the following websites:

International Association for Yoga Therapy- http://www.iayt.org/

Professional Yoga Therapy- http://proyogatherapy.org/

Medical Therapeutic Yoga- http://www.gingergarner.com/therapies/medical-yoga/

Resources

1. Garner, G. (2007). The Future of Yoga Therapy and the Role of Standardization. International Journal of Yoga Therapy, 17(1), 15-18.

2. Educational Standards for the Training of Yoga Therapists. (2016). http://www.iayt.org/?page=AccredStds. Accessed September 27, 2016.

3. Scope of Practice for Yoga Therapy, (2016). INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF YOGA THERAPISTS. http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.iayt.org/resource/resmgr/docs_certification/scopeofpractice/2016-09-01_IAYT_Scope_of_Pra.pdf. Revised: September 1, 2016.

4. Professional Yoga Therapy Institute, (2016). http://proyogatherapy.org/about-pyts/. Accessed September 27, 2016.

About the Author

Desi Rotenberg, originally from Denver, Colorado, graduated with his bachelor's degree in 2012 from the University of Northern Colorado. He has been a BOC Certified Athletic Trainer since 2012 and earned his master's degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Central Florida in 2014. He currently is a high school teacher, teaching anatomy/physiology and leadership development. Along with being a teacher, he wears many hats, such as basketball coach, curriculum developer and mentor. He has been a contributor to the BOC Blog since the summer of 2015.