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Joint Conference: Japan Yoga Therapy Society and Asian Yoga Therapy Association

Tuesday, July 17, 2018  
Posted by: IAYT Administration
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The Japan Yoga Therapy Society (JYTS) and Asian Yoga Therapy Association hosted an international conference in two Japanese cities from July 4–7, 2018. During the event, “Towards a Global Consortium on Yoga Therapy,” nearly 40 delegates aimed to establish relationships and communicate about the field on a global scale.

Leaders from yoga therapy organizations around the world, and some individuals, gathered in Omiya for 2 days, then continued to Sendai for 2 more days of relationship-building. Representatives from IAYT included John Kepner, executive director; Amy Wheeler, board president; Dilip Sarkar, immediate past board president; and Matra Raj, also on the IAYT board. Additional IAYT members, including Marlysa Sullivan (U.S.) , Leigh Blashki (Australia), Michael Lee (U.S.), Lara Benusis (U.S.), Lisa Kaley-Isley (U.K.), Penny Roberts (U.K.), and Anneke Sips (The Netherlands), also attended the meetings.

The group spent the first days discussing what is currently being done in the field of yoga therapy in the countries whose representatives were in attendance. It was interesting and surprising to hear about progress on the path of offering yoga therapy as a form of healthcare in more than a dozen countries. In both Japan and India, for example, a long history of promoting yoga for health means that yoga therapy has become almost mainstream. Offerings in Japan and India include a strong focus on evidence-based research and clinical applications. This fact was evidenced by the more than 1,200 people in attendance at JYTS’s annual conference, held concurrent to the global meetings. The IAYT contingent was impressed with JYTS’s and others’ promotion of yoga therapy to the Japanese public. And of course, yoga therapy’s birthplace, India, has a head start on the rest of the world—there, the discipline continues to be intimately linked to the culture in a way not seen elsewhere. Other counties are also engaged in efforts around providing yoga therapy and education about the field, including China, Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

After the meetings, the U.S. delegates felt quite hopeful about the future of yoga therapy as a profession. For us, it was like discovering life thriving on other planets: Our perspective on yoga therapy in the U.S. changed, and we now better understand that we are not alone. A global surge of excitement is happening around yoga therapy, and we are connected to that global wave using yoga therapy to change consciousness!

There was a general consensus around the potentials and benefits of creating global standards for yoga therapy education. The group realized that each county’s current efforts toward standards have many similarities yet still must consider their own unique culture, history, and laws. IAYT’s competency-based, 800-hour standards were looked upon as a favorable example that could be used as starting point for eventual global convergence.

Another area of global excitement was around creating assessments specific to yoga therapy, meaning that assessments used with clients must have a theoretical foundation from the ancient texts of yoga to be considered fully within yoga therapy’s scope of practice and to form the basis for a daily practice plan. There was great interest in creating a worldwide assessment bank for practitioners to draw on in clinical practice, and plans are in place to start this project before the end of 2018.

The next meeting of this newly formed global effort is planned to take place in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, May 8–10, 2019, just before the Network Yoga Therapy Conference. 

--Amy Wheeler

Photo courtesy of Michael Lee