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Frequently Asked Questions About Yoga Therapy

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Details About The Policy

For Registered Schools

For Registered Teachers

For Registered Schools and Teachers

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Details About The Policy

What is the difference between yoga therapy or therapeutic yoga versus saying that yoga has therapeutic benefits?

Therapy usually means the treatment of physical or mental illness. 

Many words suggest to the public that a yoga teacher or school has the ability to diagnose and/or treat a mental or physical health condition. Examples of these terms are:

  • yoga therapy;
  • yoga therapist;
  • heal;
  • diagnose;
  • treat;
  • cure, and
  • therapeutic yoga.

Yoga Alliance Registry Standards do not include instruction in yoga therapy techniques. 

They also do not include instruction in diagnosing or treating a mental or physical injury or illness. 

"Therapeutic benefits of yoga," by contrast, suggests that yoga promotes general wellness. Wellness is generally understood to be the quality or state of being in good health. Yoga may reduce the chances of developing health conditions and can increase wellness or general health, but it is not a therapy.

Think about the difference between going for a walk on the beach because it makes me feel good versus doing "beach therapy." Or running, which is likely to benefit my health, but is not a therapy. Many people take part in activities that increase their general well-being but are not medical therapies. 

With this in mind, it is important for yoga instructors and schools to avoid using terms that may be medical in nature and instead focus on the wellness related aspects of yoga. Top

Why can't I use the word "healing?" I'm not saying I offer therapy.

The risk comes from suggesting that a yoga teacher or school is diagnosing and/or treating a mental or physical health condition. The words "heal" or "healing" do imply this. These claims are within the scope of the practice of medicine and/or licensed health care professions. 

To stay away from suggesting that you diagnose or treat any particular health condition, consider talking about

  • general therapeutic benefits
  • wellness
  • increasing general well-being
  • improving health

Please click here to find alternate phrases and terms that you can safely use on your profile. We appreciate you removing "heal" or "healing" from your profile. Top

How can you say that yoga doesn't heal or alleviate suffering? Isn't that the essence of yoga, according to traditional yogic texts and practices?

YAR is not saying that yoga cannot heal or alleviate suffering. YAR does not, however, have curricular standards that address instruction in how to diagnose or treat any particular health condition. The crux of this policy is to avoid misleading the public by creating the wrong impression that an RYS® credential qualifies a yoga teacher training program to offer instruction in treatment or diagnosis of health conditions, or that an RYT® is qualified to treat or diagnose health conditions because they have completed an RYS® program. To avoid that confusion, YAR has adopted a policy against use of "yoga therapy" or "yoga therapist" terms on its own directory pages, and it is requiring registrations who make such claims in other marketing materials to identify the non-YAR credential they use as a "therapy" qualification. Top

My school or practice is not in the USA; does this apply to me?

Yoga Alliance Registry is based in the United States and abides by US laws. 

Registrants agree to abide by all YAR policies as part of their registration, wherever they may be in the world. 

Yoga Alliance Registry's mission includes providing information to the public about yoga teachers and schools. Those people may be anywhere in the world, including the USA. Top

For Registered Schools

Will past RYS® reviews be affected by the Yoga Therapy change?

Past RYS® reviews are not being affected.

Going forward, reviews and responses to reviews will prevent restricted words. 

However, we are not changing past reviews or responses. 

All review pages will show a notification that reviews from earlier than January 25, 2016 may not be in compliance with the Policy on the Use of Yoga Therapy Terms, and what this new policy says. 

Yoga Alliance Registry will not change the content of preexisting reviews to bring them into compliance with its new policy. This is part of our commitment to public transparency, including the fact that we do not change reviews. Top

What should I do if a review of my school contains a Yoga Therapy word?

You don't need to do anything. 

On January 25th, 2016 we announced our policy on the use of "yoga therapy" terms. Any school reviews posted before this date are not affected. 

Any graduates posting reviews after January 25th, 2016 will not be able to enter any of the restricted words. As a school responding to reviews, you will also not be able to enter restricted words. Top

Can I change the wording or the look of the disclaimer?

For schools, the disclaimer reads as follows: 

"the yoga therapy components of our course(s) are based on _______, not derived from our status as an RYS® with Yoga Alliance Registry." 

For teachers, the disclaimer says: 

"the yoga therapy components of my [instruction or practice] are based on _______, not derived from my status as an RYT ®with Yoga Alliance Registry." 

The yoga therapy disclaimer was carefully vetted by legal counsel. Due to the risks associated with yoga therapy, registrants may not edit the disclaimer wording. You may however, fill in whatever you like in the blank space provided. The purpose of this space is to clearly inform the public as to the basis for your Yoga Therapy offerings so that the public can make an informed choice. Top

I always pay for my trainers' registrations each time that I pay for my RYS® renewal. Can I assert for them? How do I get them to change the banned words if I have no access to their accounts?

As long as your trainers are in compliance with the policy, you will be able to pay for their renewal as usual. 

If a trainer is not in compliance you cannot review for them. In that case, you will need to contact them and ask them to log in and fix their account first. 

If you have more than one lead trainer and one is in compliance and one is not, you can choose to pay only for the one who is in compliance. Or you can ask the other to fix their account first, and then pay for both. The choice is yours. Top

Our trainers are therapists of different sorts (e.g. counselors, physical therapists, massage therapists); can my school be called a Yoga Therapy school?

Yoga Alliance Registry Standards do not include instruction in yoga therapy techniques. 

They also do not include instruction in diagnosing or treating a mental or physical injury or illness. 

As a matter of policy, Directory listings may not include "yoga therapy" references. 

The terms "therapist" or "therapy" can only be used when supported by a credential other than the RYT® or RYS®. This seems to be your situation. 

If your school has a basis for offering "yoga therapy" training other than the RYS® credential, then based on the policy you may promote that on your own website, with a disclaimer. 

For schools, the disclaimer reads as follows: 

"the yoga therapy components of our course(s) are based on _______, not derived from our status as an RYS® with Yoga Alliance Registry." 

As long as you post this disclaimer on your website or in marketing materials where you mention Yoga Alliance or your RYS®, you will be in compliance with the policy. 

Please be aware that there is risk in suggesting that a yoga school is teaching students to diagnose and/or treat a mental or physical health condition. These claims are within the scope of the practice of medicine and/or licensed health care professions. 

To stay away from suggesting that you diagnose or treat any particular health condition, consider talking about:

  • general therapeutic benefits
  • wellness
  • increasing general well-being
  • improving health

Please click here to find alternate phrases and terms that you can safely use on your Directory Listing. Top

My school provides yoga therapy certifications; can my students call themselves Yoga Therapists? 

Yoga Alliance Registry Standards do not include instruction in yoga therapy techniques. 

They also do not include instruction in diagnosing or treating a mental or physical injury or illness. 

As a matter of policy, Directory listings may not include "yoga therapy" references. 

The terms "therapist" or "therapy" can only be used when supported by a credential other than the RYT® or RYS®. One example of such a credential would be a physical therapy certification. 

If your school has a basis of offering "yoga therapy" training other than the RYS® credential, then based on the policy you may promote that on your own website, with a disclaimer. 

For schools, the disclaimer reads as follows: 

"the yoga therapy components of our course(s) are based on _______, not derived from our status as an RYS® with Yoga Alliance Registry." 

Please be aware that there is risk in suggesting that a yoga school is teaching students to diagnose and/or treat a mental or physical health condition. These claims are within the scope of the practice of medicine and/or licensed health care professions. 

To stay away from suggesting that you diagnose or treat any particular health condition, consider talking about:

  • general therapeutic benefits
  • wellness
  • increasing general well-being
  • improving health

Yoga Alliance Registry recommends that your graduates avoid calling themselves "yoga therapists" due to the legal risk. The exception could be if they are in fact licensed health care professionals. Top

For Registered Teachers

Yoga Alliance standards for a Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher (RPYT®) include understanding the psychological considerations of the pregnant student and the conditions of high risk pregnancies. Why are these topics covered in YA standards when they seem to fit in the medical or therapeutic category? 

Yoga teachers do need to know certain basics of anatomy. They may need to know how to avoid making certain physical or mental conditions worse. That's different from treating a condition. 

Educating students about a specific condition is not the same as teaching them they can cure or treat that condition .

Having an understanding of contraindications and conditions can be important for a yoga teacher. This is not the same as claiming to treat that condition. Top

What if the school I am affiliated with has used yoga therapy related terms? I cannot edit their information. Does my registration depend on them making these changes?

This only affects you if your primary school uses yoga therapy language in their sessions. Changes needed to fields other than the syllabus by your primary school do not affect you. Your primary school will need to do the yoga therapy related changes to their syllabus. Once they do so, and you make any other changes needed for your school, all will be well. 

It is your responsibility to make sure that your school complies with Yoga Alliance Registry policies. 

Yoga Alliance recommends that you continue to foster open communication with your primary school. One of the ways you can do this is by contacting them about the necessary yoga therapy changes. Top

My RYS® always pays for my renewal, is there something I have to do in order for them to continue paying for my renewal?

You need to be certain that your account is in compliance with the policy for your RYS® to be able to pay for your renewal. 

Log into your account, accept the new policy (if you haven't already done so), then you can go to your renewal page. If the renewal button is enabled and no alert is showing, all is well. You don't need to actually renew to see the alert; just go to the renewals page. Once you are in compliance, your school can pay for the renewal. Top

For Registered Schools and Teachers

Why is it okay to have "therapy" in some places (like the name of an RYS®) but not in others? 

As more yogis use the terms "Yoga Therapy" and "Yoga Therapist" the risks increase. YAR is taking steps to prevent public confusion about the meaning of YAR credentials, even if registrants did not intend to be misleading. 

The word "therapy" implies the ability to diagnose, treat, or cure conditions. Training in diagnosing, treating, or curing conditions is not part of the RYT® or RYS® credential. 

Because "therapy" can be a misleading term, Yoga Alliance Registry requires you to remove it from your profile. 

Why are there exceptions? 

Only if "Therapy" or "Yoga Therapy" or related words are part of your school's legal name then may you fill out a disclaimer. This disclaimer explains the basis for your yoga therapy training and will be visible on your public profile. 

If you actually teach therapy related content, you may include that in your syllabus. Those hours will not count towards the Yoga Alliance Registry Standards. Top

People who train with me claim that I have healed them. Can I place these sorts of testimonials on my profile since I am directly quoting someone else?

No. These types of testimonials may imply that you are trained to heal or cure or diagnose such a condition. This is not permitted under the Yoga Alliance Registry Policy on the Use of Yoga Therapy Terms. Please click here to find alternate phrases and terms that you can safely use on your profile. Top

I mention these restricted words many times in my bio/syllabus/programs. How can I make sure that I don't miss one of these instances when editing my information? 

To help you find these, your account will now show you were you are using any of these words. 

If you are a teacher, go to edit your profile and click edit on the biography. There will be an alert and yellow highlighting showing any issues. Your renewal page will also show an alert if you have any problems. 

For schools, there are more places to check. From your dashboard or the renewals page, you can get to a detailed list of everywhere you have used them. Or go directly to the list for your school here.

To help you with this process, we have compiled a list of prohibited words and recommended alternatives. Top

My renewal payment is due now, but I can't complete my payment due to the Yoga Alliance policy changes. Don't I have until October 1st to comply with these changes?

All registrants must be in compliance with Yoga Alliance Registry policies at all times as a condition of registration. 

Because this is a new policy, there is some leeway in terms of how quickly registrants need to get in compliance. 

All schools and teachers must be compliant with the new policy by the earlier of: 

  • October 1, 2016 or

  • your next renewal date.

Most registrants renew for an entire year, so if you are renewing after January 25th, 2016, we need you to make sure you are in compliance as of your first renewal date after the policy announcement. 

The Board of Directors has adopted this new policy for the organization and staff are not able to make exceptions. 

However, staff are happy to help you look at ways to update your content so you are in compliance with the new policy. Top

How long do I have to make these changes?

All registrants must be in compliance with Yoga Alliance Registry policies at all times as a condition of registration. 

All schools and teachers must be compliant with the new policy by the earlier of: 

  • October 1, 2016 or

  • your next renewal date.

Anyone who is not in compliance will no longer be a RYS® or RYT® with Yoga Alliance Registry. This means you would not be allowed to use the Yoga Alliance Registry credentials or trademarks. 

Our staff are happy to help you look at ways to update your content so you are in compliance with the new policy. Top







Want to Know More About the Yoga Therapy Policy?

If you have any other questions, please contact us at 1-888-921-9642.

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