The History of IAYT

Early Years
IAYT was founded in 1989 by Larry Payne, PhD, and Richard Miller, PhD. Larry served as IAYT’s founding president and Richard as the founding editor of the Journal of the International Association of Yoga Therapists. The first published Member’s Directory in 1991 presented 185 names representing 10 countries. IAYT hosted a general membership meeting at the first Yoga Journal conference in 1996 with Dean Ornish, MD, as the keynote speaker. IAYT also hosted some of the first meetings on standards for the training of yoga teachers at the 1997 and 1998 Yoga Journal conferences, a project subsequently adopted by the Yoga Alliance. 

As a Division of YREC
In 1999, IAYT was dissolved as an independent, nonprofit organization and operated as a special division of Yoga Research and Education Center (YREC) under the overall leadership of internationally respected yoga scholar and author Georg Feuerstein, PhD, who founded and served as president of YREC. IAYT’s Journal of Yoga Therapy was renamed the International Journal of Yoga Therapy (IJYT). Larry Payne servedas director and Trisha Lamb assumed administrative responsibilities for the organization and managing editor responsibilities for IJYT

In 2003, with the support of YREC and IAYT’s founders and initial leadership, IAYT separated from YREC and, in 2004, once again became an independent, nonprofit organization. Trisha Lamb and John Kepner served as founding board members of the renewed IAYT and Veronica Zador served as first president of the new board of directors.  

John Kepner, MA, MBA, a practicing yoga teacher and therapist, with a professional background in economics, finance, and nonprofit management, has served as IAYT’s executive director since 2004. Trisha Lamb served as IJYT editor in chief for 2004 and 2005, and then retired to enter long term retreat.  Kelly McGonigal, PhD served as IJYT editor in chief from 2005 – 2012.     

IAYT renewed its Advisory Council in 2004. The Advisory Council provides representation for most of the major yoga methodologies and lineages in the West along with yoga researchers and healthcare professionals. An editorial board and peer review panel for IJYT was established in 2005. Yoga Therapy in Practice was launched in 2005 as a member newsletter. The first peer-reviewed issue of IJYT was published in 2006.  Also in 2006, IAYT joined the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care (ACCAHC) Yoga is the first non-licensed discipline represented.

Selected Events, 2007 to Present

2007     IAYT's first Symposium on Yoga Therapy and Research (SYTAR) was held in Los Angeles with 800 in attendance. SYTAR 2007-2009 was produced by Veronica and Ivan Zador, PhD, of Yoga Developments.
2008     The first Meeting of Schools was held to discuss the rapid growth in the field of yoga therapy and the need for standards. Twenty schools were represented at this initial meeting, which was facilitated by John Weeks of ACCAHC and held at SYTAR 2008. IAYT initiated its school membership service with 47 charter members.
2009     Yoga Therapy Today, IAYT’s membership magazine debuted under the editorial direction of Julie Deife. The Common Interest Community Sessions (CIC) sessions were established at SYTAR 2009 under the leadership of Matt Taylor, PT, PhD. The Educational Standards Committee was convened.
2010     IAYT’s first Symposium on Yoga Research (SYR) was held at the Himalayan Institute with 200 participants. John Kepner and Sat Bir Khalsa PhD, served as conference organizers, and Sat Bir served as Chair of the Scientific Program Committee.
2011     IJYT was accepted in PubMed. SYR 2011 was awarded a scientific conference grant by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) with John Kepner and Sat Bir Khalsa, PhD as co-PI’s. Kelly Birch becomes editor in chief of YTT.
Educational Standards for the Training of Yoga Therapists were published. The IAYT Accreditation Committee was formed.
2013     SYR and SYTAR were held back-to-back for the first time. The application process for IAYT accreditation of yoga therapy training programs is launched.  B Grace Kelly, PhD assumes the position of editor in chief of IJYT.
2014     IAYT celebrates its 25th Anniversary!