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IAYT Publishes Revised Educational Standards

Tuesday, August 9, 2016  
Posted by: IAYT Administration
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IAYT Publishes Revised Educational Standards for the Training of Yoga Therapists

When we implemented the accreditation process in the summer of 2013, we made a conscious decision not to change the Educational Standards for three years, which was the length of the accreditation cycle at that time. We felt it was important to maintain consistency in how the standards and competencies were applied for a defined and reasonable period of time, even though we knew that experience, especially early on, would tempt us to make changes sooner. We were new to the work of accrediting yoga therapy training programs and believed it was important to build a knowledge base grounded in experience upon which we could make thoughtful and realistic changes.

By late 2015, we believed we had sufficient experience to move forward with needed refinements that would continue to carry out the intention of the Educational Standards set by the Standards Committee and, in doing so, help to further mature our emerging field. In our nearly three years of accrediting experience, we saw clear patterns in areas where clarification, more freedom and flexibility, or stronger requirements were needed. These areas were practicum, distance learning, and the qualifications of the program director, respectively.

This 2016 edition introduces the following changes to the Educational Standards for the Training of Yoga Therapists:

  • Replaces the concept of "contact hours” and "non-contact hours” with the concept of "residential hours” and "distance learning hours”, which are better aligned with contemporary modes of learning, particularly for adult learners.
  • Provides new and revised definitions for key concepts related to distance learning and the practicum experience.
  • Increases the number of possible hours of distance learning from 200 to 300, and removes restrictions to the competencies in which distance learning may be used.
  • Allows for greater freedom and flexibility in the use of the growing modes of distance learning.
  • Clarifies requirements for the practicum portion of a yoga therapy training program. This edition fully implements the expectation, set by the Standards Committee in 2012, that trainees complete 150 clinical delivery hours within their practicum in which they act as the lead yoga therapist in both one-on-one and group yoga therapy sessions.
  • Establishes that the program director for a yoga therapy training program be a C-IAYT.
  • Places competencies related to developing the knowledge base of yoga therapy tools for therapeutic application in Category 3 of the competencies: Yoga Therapy Tools and Therapeutic Skills. Placing these tools—asana (postures); pranayama (regulated breathing); meditation and relaxation techniques such as bhavana (visualization), mantra (recitation), and ritualized activities such as nyasa and mudra; and vihara (lifestyle modifications) including basic yogic dietary concepts—in Competency 3 further emphasizes their importance in the skill set necessary to practice as a yoga therapist.

We encourage you to read through this edition of the educational standards closely and carefully, starting with the definitions as they form the conceptual basis for the competencies and standards that follow. We also encourage you to read the still relevant and educational Preface to the 2012 edition of the Educational Standards, which is included in the 2016 edition. This Preface gives you the big picture of the philosophical underpinnings of the Educational Standards and the Standard Committee’s intention in formulating them. We believe we have stayed true to its intention, goals, and principles as we worked on the 2016 revisions.

We’re grateful to the nearly sixty Member Schools who have entered into the accreditation journey with us to date and to the twenty-six Member Schools who have completed their journey to date. Together we continue to grow both our profession and our professionalism. We also wish to express our gratitude to each of the Member Schools who participated in the survey of the proposed changes to the Educational Standards in June. Your thoughtful and detailed comments helped us further refine our thinking and language. And last, but not least, we wish to express our gratitude to the IAYT Board of Directors and to Executive Director John Kepner for his and their ongoing support and encouragement of us to keep taking the next right steps for our profession, and to our fearless facilitator Dan Seitz for his expertise and advice and for continuing to help us successfully navigate the "groan zone” so that we can land in the place that is best for our profession at this time.

We look forward to the next phase of this great and noble journey as an emerging field within western healthcare, doing our part together to establish yoga as a recognized and respected therapy.

Accreditation Committee
Robin Rothenberg, Accreditation Committee Chair

Sue Tebb, Accreditation Committee Vice-Chair
Sudha Allitt

Eleanor Criswell, IAYT Board Liaison
Robin Gueth

Hansa Knox
Molly McManus

Jaime Stover Schmitt

Accreditation Committee Staff Support
Danielle Atkinson
Aggie Stewart

Maggie Reagh, former Accreditation Committee Member