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Teaching Yoga Therapy

I have been teaching for five years and would like to focus on the therapeutic aspects of yoga by helping students with physical disabilities or challenges. What's the best way to become a yoga therapist? <br> <em>—Rebecca</em>

Dear Rebecca,

My asana teacher, B.K.S. Iyengar, started to teach me how to do therapeutic yoga only after 10 years of intense practice with him. Then, after three additional years of further training, he allowed me to work with students with physical disabilities. This sort of time frame is necessary because the amount of knowledge that we need to be able to help students with disabilities is so much greater than that required to teach the basics of yoga.

There are many styles of yoga that focus on therapy and true care for the student. Most of these schools focus on gentle postures and breathing as well as on the mental aspects of yoga, to help the mind heal the body.

The best way to become a yoga therapist is to apprentice with a master teacher for a few years, observing, questioning, and learning the nuances of therapeutic adjustments for a wide variety of students. Each person requires different adjustments of the same posture, based on their constitution. Sometimes two students will require two different postures for the same condition, because of their individual situation and body structure. In short, to teach therapeutics, you must gain more knowledge and experience than for teaching yoga, and you must gain it under the watchful eye of a master teacher.

Recognized as one of the world's top yoga teachers, Aadil Palkhivala began studying yoga at the age of seven with B.K.S. Iyengar and was introduced to Sri Aurobindo's yoga three years later. He received the Advanced Yoga Teacher's Certificate at the age of 22 and is the founder-director of internationally-renowned Yoga Centers™ in Bellevue, Washington. Aadil is the director of the College of Purna Yoga, a 1,700 hour Washington-state licensed and certified teacher training program. He is also a federally certified naturopath, a certified ayurveda">Ayurvedic health science practitioner, a clinical hypnotherapist, a certified shiatsu and Swedish bodywork therapist, a lawyer, and an internationally sponsored public speaker on the mind-body-energy connection.

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