Little Rock, AR June 8, 2014 - The International Association of Yoga Therapists announced yesterday the first accreditation decisions of yoga therapy training programs that meet its educational standards. The IAYT Member Schools who were awarded accreditation are in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand and include Ajna Yoga Centre, Ananda School of Yoga and Meditation, American Viniyoga Institute, Essential Yoga Therapy, Inner Peace Yoga Therapy, Wellpark College of Natural Therapies, YATNA (Yoga as Therapy North America), YogaLife Institute, Yoga North International Soma Yoga Institute, Yoga Qigong Academy, Yoga Therapy RX LMU, Yoga Therapy International. The announcement was made at its annual conference, the Symposium on Yoga Therapy and Research, held this year at the Austin Renaissance Hotel in Austin, TX.
The IAYT is the only professional yoga organization in the world to provide international accreditation services for the emerging field of yoga therapy. These first accreditation decisions are the culmination of five years of work by dedicated teams of leading experts in the field of yoga therapy, and mark an historic milestone in the evolution of yoga as an adjunctive therapy in complementary and integrative medicine. The programs that achieved accreditation are listed on IAYT's website.
"Developing standards is a defining and transformative event for all professional disciplines,” said John Kepner, IAYT’s Executive Director. "Our goal was to develop a system that was credible to both to those steeped in the yoga tradition and the many health care fields we work with – or, in other words, accountability with soul. The large number of applications, over twice our original expectation, appears to demonstrate the acceptance, indeed embrace, of these standards by the leading training programs in our field.”
Accreditation of yoga therapy training programs is the first of what will be a two-pillar self-regulation effort spearheaded by the IAYT. The second pillar will be certification of individual yoga therapists. While some general guidelines have been published, more detailed work on the certification process for graduates of accredited programs and grandparenting for current practitioners criteria is not expected to begin until 2015.
The centerpiece of the IAYT's accreditation process is a set of competency-based educational standards that focus on entry-level requirements for the training of yoga therapists. These standards were formed by consensus of the IAYT Educational Standards Committee with input from IAYT Member Schools and include a definition of yoga therapy, other key definitions of terms used in the standards, and detailed training requirements. The goal was to define the foundation of knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the safe and effective practice of yoga therapy and the minimum amount of hours necessary to adequately train students to acquire that foundation. The accreditation process evaluates whether a yoga therapy training program meets or exceeds these standards.
"This is a classic self-regulatory effort for an emerging field” said Kepner "Our guiding principle was an inclusive, representational and transparent decision making process."
The IAYT educational standards were approved by the IAYT Board of Directors in 2012. The accreditation process was developed and is overseen by the IAYT Accreditation Committee, a group of expert yoga therapists and educators appointed by the IAYT Board. The IAYT will continue to establish its accreditation program before beginning work on a certification program for individual yoga therapists.
Since July of 2013, the IAYT has received 36 applications for accreditation of yoga therapy programs from yoga schools worldwide. The applications remaining are in various stages of the review process, and it is anticipated that decisions for these programs will continue to be rolled out through the summer and fall of 2014.
"This is a very rigorous process,” said Hansa Knox, Chair of the Accreditation Committee. "While schools were free to teach principles consistent with their own yoga tradition, they were required to demonstrate that they taught, and assessed, all the competencies in the standards, and have qualified faculty to teach their curriculum. Schools also had to show that they met modern standards for sound business practices for professional training programs.”
In order to submit an application, a yoga school must first be an IAYT member school. At present, the IAYT has over 130 member schools worldwide. The IAYT's individual membership has grown significantly in recent years, and is over 3,400 at present. It expects continued growth as yoga therapy is increasingly viewed as a valuable adjunctive therapy in integrative medicine.
”Yoga therapy is here to stay”, said Dilip Sarkar, MD, president of the IAYT board of directors. "It’s already a part of many integrative and lifestyle medicine programs around the world. It’s safe and effective, and supported by growing body of conventional research”
The IAYT will begin accepting new applications for accreditation on October 15, 2014. IAYT Member schools that wish to seek accreditation for their yoga therapy training programs are encouraged to visit the IAYT website to begin educating themselves about the accreditation process.