Two important announcements regarding my yoga community were made recently. The first is that the International Association of Yoga Therapists has completed years of work to produce an agenda with which to certify a yoga therapist. This achievement comes on the heels of the Yoga Alliance announcing that they will not recognize the term yoga therapy within their certification curriculum. Their primary interest is in making sure that anyone who calls themselves a yoga teacher/instructor knows how to keep people safe while guiding asana practice. Using yoga, therapeutically or in any kind of a ‘healing’ way is not what the Yoga Alliance is focused on. Whereas, the IAYT which was founded in 1989 has been soley focused on using yoga therapeutically and they have dedicated all their resources towards that end. Just as my yoga ‘career’ got started (1999) the dialogue on what is yoga therapy began. Over the next few years they discussed just what were the most important aspects of a yoga (therapy) program and should we establish a required curriculum? Much of this discussion occurred before the current explosion of yoga ‘teachers’ hit the scene. My feelings at the time were in line with others who asserted that yoga could not be strictly coded for anything since it’s very foundation was based in energy, spirit, and whatever overriding belief system was operating at any given time. Yoga can not be quantified…and my personal practice of yoga therapy emphasizes that, which does not mean that I ignore the body during our sessions. Quite the contrary. But, a holistic practice should cover the whole as understood by the early yogi’s.
Today, all the debating is complete and the organization has chosen it’s path forward and it’s exactly what I feared would happen. They’ve narrowed down yoga therapy to mostly asana & pranayama, and turned the subtle & causal energy-bodies over to Ayurveda….which isn’t awful, just disappointing, for me, personally. But, I have my karma to work thru just like everyone else.
All that said it seems that I do qualify to grandfathered (or more appropriately) grandmothered in for their official certification of yoga therapy, I guess age does have some rewards. Nevertheless, those that are wanting to call themselves yoga therapists are faced with a curriculum that would never have appealed to me, or anyone who understands that healing, well-being, and self-fulfillment is more than the body, more than the sum of the parts, more than anything that can be studied, measured, or quantified.
The other piece of yoga news was the announcement that Integrative Yoga Therapy will become a part of the Kripalu Yoga curriculum, officially. This is not a big surprise to me as Joseph LaPage was part of the early Kripalu ashram, but it’s so wonderful to have them together in this form. All of my teacher-trainings have been within this lineage of teachers and I feel so much gratitude to be a part of the community.
I never expected to be a pioneer of anything, but it seems as though I have been blazing a path for sure. Just the fact that I’m posting this to all of you is evidence of that. My studio is 14 years old today and continues to be a safe and sacred space for those who seek healing, inspiration, and enlightenment thru yoga. Om Shanti.