Yoga Instructor vs Yoga Therapist

What is the difference between the training required for yoga therapists versus yoga instructors?
There are key differences between Yoga Therapy (Yoga Therapist) and Yoga Teacher (Instructor) training programs that are good to know.
Yoga teachers are trained to guide individuals or groups in studio, gym, school and community settings in the teachings and practices of yoga. The timeline of a yoga teacher/instructor training can vary between a 200-hour or 500-hour program. Several programs are available because there is no nationally accredited certification for teaching yoga; however, there is a registry maintained by the Yoga Alliance where teachers can register as RYT 200 or RYT 500. This implies that the registered yoga teacher has completed a 200 hour (RYT 200 Teacher) or 500 hour Yoga Alliance approved program (RYT 500 advanced teacher).
Each programming has some flexibility in how they deliver their training program based on standards set by the Yoga Alliance. Each program may also choose to focus on a unique yoga style or practice: For example, one program may focus on bringing yoga to schools while another program may focus on yoga for athletes or mental health support.
Most RYTs (Registered Yoga Teachers) have been trained to become an expert in a particular style of yoga.

In contrast, yoga therapists are trained in 800-hour programs to be patient- and client-centered in their delivery of yoga therapy in individual and small group settings.
According to IAYT (International Association Yoga Therapist) “Yoga therapy is the process of enabling people to progress towards better health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of yoga.”
Yoga therapy programs are approved by a single international accreditation body, the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) and yoga therapists who complete these programs and take an exam will result in the Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) credential . While there is also some variety in the ways in which IAYT- approved programs deliver their training, in terms of format, style, or focus, all IAYT-approved programs are intended to train yoga therapists to develop a method of assisting tailored to their clients and unique health, medical and wellness needs.

It is important to remember that all Yoga Therapists are also Yoga Teachers/Instructors, but not all Yoga Teachers are Yoga Therapists.

Rita Casadio, 29 June 2023