Learn about IAYT

Our Mission

IAYT supports research and education in yoga and serves as a professional organization for yoga teachers and yoga therapists worldwide. Our mission is to establish yoga as a recognized and respected therapy.

Founded in 1989, IAYT has consistently championed yoga as a healing art and science.  Membership is open to yoga practitioners, yoga teachers, yoga therapists, health care practitioners who use yoga in their practice, and yoga researchers.  School membership is open to schools with yoga therapy training programs. 

As of 2019, IAYT has over 5,000 individual members from over 50 countries, and over 170 member schools.  There are also 50 IAYT accredited yoga therapy training programs, with more under review.


Our History (Click here for a graphic timeline of our history)

Early Years
IAYT was founded in 1989 by Larry Payne, PhD, and Richard Miller, PhD. Larry served as IAYT’s founding president & publisher with 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. Amy Gage was the next president, 95-96 and Lilias Folas served as acting president from '96-98.  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 served as 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 yoga 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, and Kelly McGonigal, PhD became editor in chief. Yoga Therapy in Practice was launched by Kelly 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 was 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 Editorial direction of Yoga Therapy Today (Formerly Yoga Therapy in Practice), IAYT’s membership magazine, changed from Kelly McGonigal, PhD to 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 Through Kelly McGonigal's efforts, 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 became editor in chief of YTT.

2012 Educational Standards for the Training of Yoga Therapists were published. The IAYT Accreditation Committee was formed. B Grace Bullock, PhD, became editor in chief of IJYT.

2013 SYR and SYTAR were held back-to-back for the first time. The application process for IAYT accreditation of yoga therapy training programs was launched.

2014 IAYT celebrates its 25th anniversary!  The first 12 yoga therapy training programs accredited by IAYT are announced at SYTAR.  The first Swami Kuvalyananda Yoga Research Scholarship Awards are announced at SYR. Will Boggs, MD, became editor in chief of IJYT. 

2015   SYTAR 2015 is held in California with 12 additional accredited yoga therapy training programs, bringing the total to 24.  IJYT introduces Sat Bir Khalsa, PhD as the editor-in-chief and Laura Schmalzl, PhD, RYT, as the managing editor.


IAYT's long awaited professional yoga therapy certification program is launched, with a unique credential (C-IAYT).  Over 500 IAYT members attained the credential by year end.  IAYT also published the IAYT Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, along with a Scope of Practice.


First IAYT Yoga Research Summary (on Depression) published in the spring Yoga Therapy Today. By the end of the Grandparenting period over 3,600 practitioners were awarded the IAYT-Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) credential.

 2018   IAYT launches a comprehensive new communication effort to increase the awareness of and the demand for yoga therapists, including a new public facing website, yogatherapy.health for the public and health care practitioners seeking qualified yoga therapists to refer to or work with.

IAYT also launches Approved Professional Development (APD) program to recognize quality yoga therapy continuing education courses that support the competencies in the standards.