The YATNA Yoga Therapy Program

From the moment I heard the phrase, "yoga therapy," I knew it was for me.  The thought of using yoga practice to help others heal physical, emotional and spiritual wounds seemed like my calling.  I had always felt a calling to be some sort of healer, but was somewhat disenchanted by modern medicine during college.  I have since sought an effective holistic modality that treats the entire human system with compassion, honesty and flexibility.  Yoga therapy seems a perfect fit.

I was disappointed to learn that the reputable yoga therapy training programs were several hundred miles away and cost thousands of dollars to attend.  It was simply unrealistic to expect to attend a training in my current situation, viz., a part-time yoga teacher in the midwest with a baby and a near median household income. 

So when I came across the YATNA yoga therapy training program which will be held in Nashville beginning June 2014, I was intrigued.

Here is a description of the program from their website:

The YATNA yoga therapist training program provides 800 hours of in-depth training in yoga therapy in the tradition of Śri T. Krishnamacharya and Mr. TKV Desikachar. Through its comprehensive curriculum, practical internships and individual mentoring, the training offers an opportunity for thorough grounding in the therapeutic application of yoga as well as foundational knowledge of the integration of yoga with allopathic medicine. Trainees will also gain knowledge on the modern scientific evidence of yoga as a therapy and approaches to integrate yoga with allopathic medicine. Graduates of the program will be equipped to practice yoga therapy in both private one-to-one sessions and small group classes.

There several things which excite me about this program:

  1. The connection to Krishnamacharya and Desikachar: Krishnamacharya is pretty much the grandfather of contemporary yoga practice.  He was the teacher of K. Pattabhi Jois and BKS Iygenar (among other illustrious yogis) who have been largely responsible for the proliferation of yoga in the West.  In his own words, teaching yoga is to, “Teach what is inside you, not as it applies to you, to yourself, but as it applies to the other.” His lineage and teaching, which is drawn from the eight-limbed yoga path described in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, is now continued by his son Desikachar. 
  2. The integration of yoga with allopathic medicine: Part of the yoga therapy curriculum includes learning about ¨mechanisms of disease, treatment options and prognosis [from an allopathic point of view] to facilitate integration of yoga therapy with conventional medicine.¨  Being able to work with practitioners of traditional medicine will help make yoga therapy more approachable and visible to the public.  The training even includes clinic hours at the Vanderbilt Center for Integrative Health to give students real, practical experience observing and providing yoga therapy.
  3. Individual mentoring: The YATNA yoga therapy program not only includes one-on-one mentoring for trainees, but also pairs trainees with a yoga therapist, so that they have received yoga therapy themselves.  This is one of the aspects of the program that excites me the most.  I've never had a personal yoga teacher--most of my learning has been through self-directed study and observation.  I anticipate that having an external influence to guide me to areas I might be unknowingly avoiding or to ask questions that I wouldn't have thought to ask myself will help me develop as a professional and a human being.

When I requested more information about the program, I was informed that I would need to have received at least 200 hours of training in the Krishnamacharya tradition before the training begins in June.  Since I already have so many commitments right now (opening the Bliss Yoga studio, finishing massage therapy training, facilitating children's yoga teacher training, and finding time to spend with my family (not to mention the house, the garden, the meal preparing and all the countless tasks that I really should be done)), I decided that beginning the YATNA program this summer probably wouldn't be feasible.

But, while I am waiting to begin the YATNA program, I have already been paired with a teacher-mentor/yoga-therapist.  We had our first session recently: I was quite surprised by it and have been processing it since.  Read the next post to learn more about my first experience of yoga therapy.