An experienced yoga therapist asked me this weekend 'how on earth does online yoga therapy training work?' She was horrified at the idea of teaching the art and science of therapeutic yoga online. She exclaimed that the deep and nuanced philosophy and techniques of yoga therapy could only be learned face to face.
As the director of an online yoga therapy training course, how did I respond? I told her she was absolutely right. And completely wrong.
Yoga therapy is a big ol' topic. Yoga therapist accreditation in Australia takes 2 years and 650hrs of training, including:
- Advanced anatomy and physiology
- Advanced Ayurveda
- How to support students with issues ranging from back pain and knee injury to panic disorders and dementia
- Basic counselling skills
- Advanced pranayama and meditation
Yoga therapy training includes a big dollop of theory and book study, a lot of in-class discussion and a tonne of physical practice. So how does it all work online? Beautifully.
Don't be boring
The reason why it works so well online is the way we have structured the training at Adore Yoga. We don't just send students videos of tutors lecturing them on a topic. That would be boring enough in a face-to-face setting, let alone online. No. We bring the topics to life through combining real-time face to face (online) tutorials with multimedia home-study tasks. This gives students the opportunity to really get to grips with the content AND creates a sense of connection to their tutor and to eachother.
Here's how it works. Every week, students get a file containing a set of carefully curated resources - usually a video, a podcast, some written notes and perhaps a relevant article or two. These resources are accompanied by a worksheet that steps students through the resources and sets a simple assignment for the week. The assignment might be to write a commentary on a video they've watched, or reflect on their own experience of teaching in the context of that week's topic area.
Students send their assignments in to their tutors who read them through, make notes and then use this feedback as a springboard in the live online tutorials. Every Sunday during the course, the students jump online with the tutor and spend the day discussing the topic area, working together in virtual break out rooms and enjoying asana, pranayama and meditation practices, all delivered live online by their tutor. The day goes very quickly and it's a lot of fun! Oh, and the technology is very, VERY easy to use (plus every session is recorded so students have permanent access to all that juicy content).
But is all this online study enough to learn yoga therapy? Well, this is where I have to agree with my yoga therapist friend who was adamant that this stuff could only be learned face to face. Of COURSE you need some real, face to face human contact. Yoga therapists work closely (sometimes hands-on) with students, building strong therapeutic relationships and conducting detailed assessments. That's why our online training is complemented by intensive, face to face workshops.
The 150hr Foundations of Yoga Therapy course is a perfect example. This course is designed for 200hr yoga teachers. It upgrades their skills, gives them Level 1 status with Yoga Australia and allows them to meet the entry criteria for accredited yoga therapy courses. This program is delivered like this:
- 7 x 1-day live online tutorials
- 7 x weekly home study tasks
- 1 x 5-day face to face intensive
That face to face intensive is where the magic happens. All the theory, discussions, observations and preparation from the past 7 weeks comes together in a highly productive 5-day workshop. Students put all the skills they've been learning into practice, get tonnes of hands-on experience and, best of all, get to hang out with each-other in person.
So, my friend is right. Nothing beats the magic of face to face training. But the capabilities (and ease) of modern technology means that yoga teachers can develop their careers and engage with the subject matter in new and accessible ways. AND they get all the fun of working face to face. It's the best of both worlds.
Do you want to try a free online yoga therapy course? Follow the link below.
Nikola Ellis is the founder of Adore Yoga, yoga therapist, counsellor and teacher trainer. She conducts regular trainings that help people of all ages, shapes and abilities enjoy the benefits of yoga and meditation, including Meditation Facilitator Certificate Trainings; Level 1 200hr Teacher Training and Post Graduate Yoga Teacher Training in Mental Health, Adaptive Asana and the Foundations of Yoga Therapy and a highly regarded professional 650hr Graduate Certificate of Yoga Therapy.