How to become a yoga therapist

Female yoga therapist of colour providing yoga therapy to a young white male yoga student

Yoga Therapy is a rapidly growing discipline with hospitals, clinics and other healthcare environments across the world employing qualified Yoga Therapists. Yoga Therapy training provides the skills and confidence to work safely and effectively with people living with a broad range of physical, emotional and psychological issues.


What is Yoga Therapy? Find out here.


But what does that training involve? And what are the pathways to accreditation as a Yoga Therapist? Here’s an easy step-by-step guide.

 Step 1: 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training


200 hours is the base-line for teaching yoga. A good 200hr course will give you a basic understanding of the key principles of yoga and the skills to teach some of the many postures, breathing techniques and meditation practices.


However, many courses focus on ‘vinyasa’, a yoga style that links poses together in a choreographed sequence. That’s great for able bodied people in good health, but it can be a big barrier for people living with a disability, pain, injury or even just a body that doesn't look much like the images of young, thin and bendy people often used to market yoga classes.


Some of the habits that yoga teachers learn in their Level 1 vinyasa teacher training have to be unlearned in order to become a yoga therapist, so look for a Level 1 course that puts more emphasis on the foundations of each technique (poses, pranayama, meditation, chanting, mudra, personalizing practices) than on choreographing flowing sequences.



Step 1.1: 350hr Yoga Teacher Training


350hrs training is the minimum requirement for entry to an accredited Yoga Therapy Teacher Training in Australia. You can either enroll for a 350hr program from scratch, or upgrade your 200hr training with post-grad courses. Again, choose a  post-grad training that will help you move towards the therapeutic application of yoga. That might mean a course that is broad-based (yoga therapists are the ultimate generalists) rather than sticking to a particular style or brand of yoga.


Step 2:  Yoga Therapist Training (650hrs or more)


This is the most comprehensive and advanced yoga teacher training available in Australia. Accredited Yoga Therapy Teacher Trainings take a minimum of 2 years to complete and require a minimum of 300 hours of live training (online or face to face) plus 350hrs practicum - those are the hours you spend practicing what you learn with volunteer students.  Make sure you choose a course that is accredited with Yoga Australia, so you know you're getting a recognised, high quality program.


Did you know? Yoga Alliance de-registers yoga teachers who advertise yoga therapy without a recognized qualification?


Training to be a Yoga Therapist a big commitment, but the rewards are extraordinary. There is no other training that will teach you to confidently support students with health issues as diverse as cancer, Parkinson’s, musculoskeletal and soft tissue injury, anxiety, depression, diabetes, asthma, eating disorders, chronic pain and so much more. It’s a pathway that takes you beyond teaching general classes and gives you the skills to make a real and lasting difference to people’s lives. It's a richly rewarding career.


Got a question about Yoga Therapy? Ask us here.