Introduction to the IAYT Scope of Practice

by Leigh Blashki

What is a Scope of Practice?

“Scope of Practice” describes the procedures, actions, and processes that a healthcare practitioner is permitted to undertake in keeping with the terms of their professional certification. The Scope of Practice is limited to specific education, experience, and demonstrated competency, and acknowledges the requirements of the regulating agency and any laws applicable to healthcare providers in the jurisdiction.

Why does IAYT need a Scope of Practice?

As the international torchbearer for the emerging field of yoga therapy, the IAYT needs to help educate other healthcare providers and the public more generally about what yoga therapists do and do not do. Equally, the Association needs to help bring clarity to the wider field of yoga, continuing to differentiate between yoga therapy and yoga teaching. An SoP is the appropriate vehicle to help achieve these objectives. It can extend some of the principles of the standards and certification and contribute to the safety and quality of care provided by IAYT Certified Yoga Therapists (C-IAYT).

The IAYT Scope of Practice

While yoga therapists want to do all they can to assist their clients’ return to good health, it is important for all yoga therapists to understand the limit or boundary (scope) of their expertise, as defined by their education, experience, and competency (qualification). The SoP gives clear guidelines to yoga therapists in relation to what they are qualified to do and what they are not qualified to do.  Applicants for IAYT Certification (C-IAYT) must affirm that they have read and understand the IAYT Scope of Practice. 
The SoP sends a clear message to other healthcare practitioners, especially those in licenced fields such as medicine and psychology, that the field of yoga therapy, while still “emerging,” is also maturing, with practitioners that are certified by the peak organization (IAYT) understanding and subscribing to an SoP that clearly indicates what can and cannot be done as part of yoga therapy practice.

The SoP helps the wider healthcare community understand how yoga therapy fits into its landscape, while also educating yoga therapists about how they fit into the wider field of healthcare. Scopes of practice in some healthcare fields are highly prescriptive and indicate in detail what practitioners can and cannot do. This can work in fields where there is consistency in education and what is actually practiced. However, in the field of yoga therapy, there is considerable diversity in the approach taken to providing “therapy,” based on the diversity of traditions and styles. Accordingly, the IAYT SoP generally provides broad statements in relation to what a practitioner can do in order to maintain an inclusivity that is the hallmark of the Educational Standards and the accreditation and certification processes that stem from the Standards.

The work of developing the IAYT SoP has been accomplished by committees of leaders of our field representing diverse lineages and methodologies and, in finalizing the SoP, we have listened to the comments of hundreds of survey respondents in the yoga therapy field who reviewed the document. The Scope of Practice marks a coming of age for IAYT and for our field.

Leigh Blashki  was previously a member of the IAYT Certification Committee, the Standards Committee and the Accreditation Committee..