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Anna Passalacqua

How Much Do Yoga Therapists Make? Yoga Therapist Salary and What to Charge

Brandt in a video discussing Yoga Therapist salary

Can you really make a good living for yourself as a yoga therapist? How much do yoga therapists make an hour, and how do you know what to charge your clients? Many people are interested in the intersection of physical therapy and yoga techniques, but few know much about the yoga industry and whether it’s possible to earn a living doing what they love.

That’s about to change! This comprehensive guide covering everything from industry norms to the average yoga therapy salary will serve as your guide to earning as a yoga therapist. It’s important to understand that there are many factors that affect how much you will earn, so get started with the data we’ve presented and the expert insights provided by our Founder, Director, and Lead Teacher, Brandt Passalacqua.

Table of Contents

Yoga Therapist Salary Ranges

Yoga Therapist Salary Ranges 2023

A yoga therapist’s annual salary can range from $59,000 to $100,500, according to ZipRecruiter. The national average yoga therapist salary is $70,000, with most salaries ranging from $63,500 to $70,000.

Percent of Yoga Therapist Jobs Salary Range
17% $59,000–$62,499
27% $62,500–$66,499
32% $66,500–$69,999
18% $70,000–$73,999
4% $96,500–$100,500

This broad range suggests that there are plenty of opportunities for advancement within the profession. Yoga therapists may run their own private practice or work at a clinic which will affect their salary along with other factors in the next section.

Factors That Affect Yoga Therapist Salaries

With such a wide range of yoga therapist salary amounts, there are several elements that factor into how much yoga therapists make.

  • Location: Location perhaps plays the biggest role in the variation of salaries. The location of one’s business and cost of living will affect a yoga therapist’s salary. Yoga therapy rates in urban areas are typically higher than rural locations.
  • Experience: The years of experience a yoga therapist has will also affect how much they charge and, in turn, their salary. Just as any other career, in general, people with more years of experience make more money.
  • Skill Level: Skill level also plays a part in a yoga therapist’s salary. Certifications and specialized training and development can increase a yoga therapist’s salary. There are even master’s degrees in yoga therapy, though most yoga therapists don’t need a master’s to get a job or advance their career.
  • Private Practice or Public Clinic: Yoga therapists that own a private practice may expect to make more money than those who work for a clinic, as they can set their own hourly or session rates. Take notice that private practice salaries are still influenced by location, experience, and skill level.

Listen to an overview of some of these factors in this video segment with our Founder, Director, and Lead Teacher, Brandt Passalacqua. He explains to one of our students how to determine your hourly rates and the variation in yoga therapist salary for both a private yoga therapy practice and a yoga therapy clinic.

In this segment, Brandt discusses hourly rates and a yoga therapist salary for both a private Yoga Therapy practice and a Yoga Therapy clinic.


Brandt Passalaqua: So, what was your question? You were asking about rates and yoga therapist salaries?

Student: Yes, how do you guys decide to set your yoga therapy rate.

Brandt: You have two options, but for private rates, I would look at what acupuncturists charge, massage therapists charge, and psychotherapists charge, because, you know, like in New York City, people get $120, or $150, or $200 an hour. You know what I mean?

Student: Yes.

Brandt: Two hours away, where I live, people get $90. If I went an hour and a half from my house to Vermont, people are probably more likely to get $75, as you are getting further away from the cities.

Student: Okay.

Brandt: But, I would look at it that way. And the other option is something I’m working on now, is doing it in a different style – like a clinic style – where it depends on how much money you need, but where you set up a Yoga Therapy clinic or a couple of clinic days, and you do shorter appointments and charge less. So, I’m going to be giving everyone protocols for that because I’m working on that right now, sort of ironing that out. It’s also a good way to get into the community. So, a lot of other alternative medical professionals work that way, where you have for example two days a week of regular office hours and you charge your full rate, let’s say that’s $90 an hour, and then you have a Yoga Therapy clinic day where people can come for half an hour for $30 for example, so you’re working with both sets of populations. So, that would be another way to think about it.

How Much Do Yoga Therapists Make an Hour?

On average, yoga therapists make $33.65 an hour in the U.S., according to ZipRecruiter. But this is based on annual salary and assumes the number of hours worked. In reality, many yoga therapists will command a higher hourly rate than $33.65 an hour. Depending on your experience, location, and other factors, you may be more likely to charge clients upwards of $100 an hour.

Location, experience, skill level, and working in a private practice versus a public clinic will all affect how much yoga therapists make an hour, however. Keep this information in mind and keep reading to learn more about these different factors so you can make an informed decision about what to charge.

How Much Does a Yoga Therapist Make in My State?

When determining how much to charge for yoga therapy, consider the average yoga therapist salary and hourly wage in your state. But keep in mind that how much a yoga therapist makes will also vary from city to city within each state, with bigger cities generally charging higher prices and having higher cost of living than smaller cities. Check out data from ZipRecruiter below to give you an idea.

State Salary (Annual) Hourly Wage
New York $79,854 $38.39
California $78,793 $37.88
Vermont $72,011 $34.62
Maine $71,542 $34.40
Massachusetts $70,975 $34.12
Nevada $70,839 $34.06
New Jersey $70,071 $33.69
Wisconsin $69,922 $33.62
Washington $69,752 $33.54
Oregon $69,085 $33.21
Hawaii $68,251 $32.81
Idaho $68,235 $32.81
Wyoming $68,111 $32.75
Minnesota $67,750 $32.57
Indiana $67,417 $32.41
Arizona $67,396 $32.40
Alaska $67,000 $32.21
New Hampshire $66,843 $32.14
Pennsylvania $66,799 $32.11
Georgia $66,252 $31.85
Iowa $65,332 $31.41
Rhode Island $65,254 $31.37
South Dakota $65,161 $31.33
North Dakota $65,112 $31.30
Connecticut $64,752 $31.13
Montana $64,658 $31.09
New Mexico $63,315 $30.44
Illinois $63,023 $30.30
Ohio $63,016 $30.30
Virginia $61,960 $29.79
Maryland $61,877 $29.75
Tennessee $61,678 $29.65
Utah $61,644 $29.64
Delaware $60,970 $29.31
Colorado $60,709 $29.19
Mississippi $60,207 $28.95
Oklahoma $58,866 $28.30
South Carolina $58,600 $28.17
Michigan $58,084 $27.93
Kansas $57,880 $27.83
Texas $57,796 $27.79
Missouri $57,737 $27.76
West Virginia $57,557 $27.67
Alabama $56,955 $27.38
Florida $56,894 $27.35
Louisiana $56,489 $27.16
Nebraska $56,144 $26.99
Kentucky $53,864 $25.90
North Carolina $53,504 $25.72
Arkansas $52,987 $25.47

Where Do Yoga Therapists Earn the Most Money? Top 10 Cities

If you’re looking for the cities where you could have higher earning potential, check out the top 10 cities for the highest yoga therapist salaries according to ZipRecruiter below. While you can generally charge more for yoga therapy in bigger cities like San Jose, San Francisco, or Seattle, there are a few smaller cities like Lebanon, New Hampshire or Marysville, Washington on this list to consider if you prefer small town life. Just keep in mind that a smaller population may mean a smaller demand and clientele as well.

An infographic showing where yoga therapists earn the most money.

Yoga Instructor vs. Yoga Teacher vs. Yoga Therapist Salary

The average person may be surprised that there’s a difference between yoga therapists and yoga teachers. Yoga teachers and instructors teach yoga classes, which can be one-on-one or in a group. Yoga therapists teach clients how to use yoga techniques to provide relief for the specific medical conditions they face.

Yoga therapists typically focus on specific health conditions and can provide more specialized medical advice. Yoga teachers may be more junior, focusing on teaching students about the various yoga systems (e.g. Ashtanga vs. power yoga) because they lack specific credentials needed to carry out more intensive therapy sessions.

A yoga therapist’s salary will thus depend more heavily on their experience, practical knowledge, and demonstrable ability to treat patients. A yoga teacher who is more personable, skilled at educating others, and familiar with the industry basics may make a nice living for themselves but will seldom draw in the highest wages without additional training.

Yoga therapists play an important role in many people’s health. They use mind and body practices, such as breathing techniques and stretches, to promote deep relaxation and healing. The needs of the client determine the yoga therapy practices that are used.

Yoga Instructor vs. Yoga Teacher vs. Yoga Therapist Salary 2023

Due to these differences, there are some differences in yoga instructor or yoga teacher and yoga therapist salaries. The average yoga therapist salary in the U.S. is $70,000 annually ($33.65 per hour), compared to $63,629 annually ($30.59 per hour) for yoga teachers and yoga instructors, according to ZipRecruiter.

5 Top Paid Yoga Job Titles

Yoga instruction and yoga therapy can encompass a wide range of services, roles, and job duties. These can require varying responsibilities and qualifications, as well as earn different pay. A few of the top paid yoga-related job titles from ZipRecruiter are included below.

Top Paid Yoga Job Titles 2023

Private Yoga Therapy Practices vs. Yoga Therapy Clinics

Establishing a private yoga therapy practice can often mean charging higher rates for your services. In addition to considering your location, experience, and skill to help determine your rates, look at what other yoga therapists are charging as well as similar private practices. Knowing what acupuncturists, massage therapists, and psychotherapists charge in your city can help provide additional context for what a yoga therapist might charge.

Setting up a yoga therapy clinic, or even a couple of clinic days in your private practice, can be a way to serve different clientele with lower rates. If you’re operating as a yoga therapy clinic or setting aside clinic days, you could provide shorter appointments and charge less—perhaps 30-minute appointments rather than 60-minute appointments.

How Do Your Credentials and Yoga Therapy Certification Affect Salary?

You can’t just become a yoga expert overnight and begin collecting a yoga therapist salary with no issues. Additional years of industry experience will warrant higher wages. The ability to stand apart from the crowd in order to attract additional customers can convince your employer to provide a raise. Above all else, your industry credentials and overall training will determine your salary.

Achieving professional certification is usually the first step in bolstering your yoga salary. The International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) provides important professional credentialing to those yoga therapists. These credentials will distinguish you as a true professional who has met the established standards of the IAYT.

Many first study yoga at the university level before embarking upon their professional careers, though this is not a necessary prerequisite with the right yoga therapy training. Even if you have a Bachelor’s of Arts in Yogic Studies or a Master of Science in Yoga Therapy, you’ll need to become certified by the IAYT to achieve much professional success. Your yoga therapy salary may depend on the level of professional certification you use to illustrate your skills to a prospective employer. Although there are costs to yoga therapy training and certification, they are important for increasing your earning potential.

An accredited institution approved by the IAYT can help you boost your yoga therapy salary.

Become a Certified Yoga Therapist With Breathing Deeply

Ready to begin your yoga therapy training and become a yoga therapist? Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy offers accessible yoga therapy training, including an IAYT accredited advanced program. Our mission is to spread the availability of high-quality, practical, and ethical yoga therapy.

Apply today for one of our programs. A new Breathing Deeply class will be starting soon!

2022: A Year-end Message From Brandt

Friends in Yoga,

Sitting on a cushion, taking a yoga class, chanting a mantra before your morning coffee…no one would call these radical acts. They are small choices that we make to better ourselves. The motivation to practice often takes form by our desire to be healthier, to be more focused, to connect with our inner self. Each time we practice, the experience is the same and different offering new insights and familiar feelings simultaneously.

When we are practicing well, we expect nothing in particular. Even though we may be motivated by a desire, we know that this moment of practice is unique. If we follow the guidance of the great seers before us, we act without expecting. We simply practice without concern for the fruits of our actions. In this way, we find the present more fully and we are set up to receive what is needed.

When we work as a yoga therapist it is the same. Yoga therapy is a practice just like any other. We are motivated by the desire for an outcome. We listen to our client’s explanation of suffering and create a strategy for them to relieve it. We take the small action of teaching practice. We take our training, skill, and experience and become present. Once we decide on the practices to share with them, everything else fades into the background. We witness the person in front of us take the small action of practice. We do this week after week, month after month. We do our job perfectly by playing our role of educator and letting go of the results.

This is the open secret of yoga therapy. Present-centered practice creates a connection to the flow of nature. Our client’s movement, breath, and meditation connect them to the present moment. It is these small actions that create change. Brain wave states shift, stress levels plummet and spiritual connection becomes felt. The system moves toward balance and finds greater harmony with itself. The transformation they seek is now possible.

Throughout the year, I spend much of my time hearing case studies from our yoga therapy student community. Within them, there are hundreds, even thousands of small actions. Using breathwork, simple movement, guided meditation, chanting…and then…something amazing happens. People wake up, feel better, and suffer less. There is often the element of surprise and amazement that these small acts worked because holding the pieces and the whole at the same time is so very elusive.

So as the year comes to a close, I invite all of us to hold the awareness that no act that is present and in alignment with nature is too small or unimportant. Let us remember that every moment of practice—asana, pranayama, chanting, meditation, text study, yoga therapy study, sharing with clients and friends—contributes to the change we all desire.

May we know ourselves and the world we live in fully and experience the light, peace, and love that is our true nature.

With great respect and love,

Point of View Matters—A Yoga Therapy Perspective

It seems like almost every day we see a new article pointing to scientific evidence for the effectiveness of yoga in treating various conditions.

This is definitely good news for us as Yoga Therapists. And we are seeing more and more people without a yoga background coming in for treatment–some even with referrals from their physicians.

In working with western clients, we want to make yoga practices more accessible and avoid using yoga terminology that certain people might find off-putting, or even threatening. But it’s essential not to forget or ignore the cultural framework within which yoga has been practiced for thousands of years.

—Listen in as Brandt explores some challenges and tips in sharing classical yoga teachings with clients unfamiliar with these concepts.

How To Present Classical Yoga Teachings

Finding Contentment With Yoga Therapy

In yoga circles, we often hear people talking about acquiring “bliss states”. Bliss is found more easily when we can hold both pleasant and unpleasant feelings simultaneously. The science of yoga provides us with many tools to do this. Yoga Therapists are well equipped to help clients achieve a more peaceful experience by teaching them how to increase their capacity for opposing thoughts and feelings through practice.

Listen in on this candid moment during a Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy Program session, as Brandt shares his thoughts about helping clients find contentment using yoga techniques.

Ananda Vs. Anandamaya Kosha Practices

Ready to begin your yoga therapy studies and deepen your own practice?

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Yoga Therapy For Plantar Fasciitis

When working with yoga therapy clients, knowing what NOT to do is just as important as taking the right treatment approach. In this segment, Brandt shares advice from his yoga therapy practice about working with plantar fasciitis, and stresses how to avoid aggravating this common and painful issue.

Yoga Therapy For Plantar Fasciitis


There’s a couple things you want to look at with plantar fasciitis. One would be, you know the condition itself is like a shortened fascial state like on the foot but usually it includes the calf and up the hamstrings. So at some point you’re gonna have to stretch that. So it’s not difficult to figure out how to do that if you’re a yoga teacher, but what’s not as obvious maybe is if you look behind someone if they’re supinating or pronating that would need to be corrected too. So you’d have to look at, or my advice would be to look at them standing from behind and see if you can get those Achilles tendons to line up straight, if they’re not, you lift their toes and have them form arches and possibly you figure out how to get their feet back into neutral so that would be one thing. And then when they’re not symptomatic or really warmed up, you’d want to very gently lengthen the fascia on their feet, and their calves, and possibly their hamstrings.

But here’s the thing. What I see a lot of people do it, and I’ve even seen PTs do this, you can’t just take somebody who has plantar fasciitis, which is basically the tearing of the fascia away from the heel. And then start stretching the heck out of it because we’re just gonna make it worse because I think it’s gonna tear more. So the trick to it is, along with the sort of structural piece is to teach the person how to get very warm before they do any stretching. And then do some fairly long holds. And at first, I would target the calf area and see if you can get the calf to lengthen without feeling it in the bottom of the foot and then see if you get the hamstrings to lengthen without feeling it at the bottom of the foot. And then the final thing I do would be to do a more sort of extreme stretch where you would lift the foot off the ground, balls of the feet off the ground at some point, but that’s after they’re better. So the mistake I see people making is kind of going for these big stretches, you know, and you see this a lot in athletes so they’re very game to do things usually. So, you know, you get someone in to your practice then athlete and they’re like, yeah, I’ll just stretch it out, tell me how to stretch. But you’re likely gonna do a lot more damage, so, what I’ve seen is people have plantar fasciitis and get it made much worse by the stretches.

So the key is where the person feels it. So you really want to be targeting, usually it’s not the fascia on the foot that shortens actually, could be but usually the real problem is up the posterior chain fascially, so really going to be sort of long, gentle stretches in the calf and the hamstring. I’ve worked with that condition hundreds of times, it’s very common and that usually works. And as you give the person what to do, you know, make sure they’re warm. So actually the first thing in the morning probably isn’t your moment, so make sure they’re already warmed up and then you can go further by actually having them heat the area. And I know a lot of times if you have inflammation people think ice because it cools it, but really what you want is all the tissues to be warm and open before you do any kind of manual stuff with them.

Yoga therapy can be helpful for several types of physical problems in other parts of the body, from shoulder pain due to a tear to neck pain caused by wrong posture. A yoga therapist can help you navigate different health conditions and apply toe yoga physical therapy exercises or other yoga practices.

Yoga Therapy For A Rotator Cuff Tear

Listen in as Brandt shares strategies and discusses best practices for working with rotator cuff tears.

Yoga Therapy For Rotator Cuff Tears

Are you ready to be a change-maker in this emerging field of yoga therapy as a therapist? Apply now and start your journey on a new and exciting career path.


One was a question about rotator cuff tears. What’s the deal with them? Can you tear it more and how careful do I need to be? That’s really the basics of this question. So, the answer to that is, it depends. Without giving an hour lecture on rotator cuff tears, I’ll say this – that basically tears have different sort of grades to them. So, it depends how severe the tear is, so you need some information from their doctor about tears. There’s no way for you to know how torn something is. But that said, unless it’s really intense, so they usually grade them, so if it’s a low-grade tear which is kinda the most common thing especially if it’s not a trauma, if it’s just like over time. I see a lot of people have tears and, you know, usually when a yoga therapist gets, and they’ve been to PT, and so this has been my experience. This is just one possibility, but a lot of times they’ve gone to PT and they’ve done rehab exercises that have either worked partially or not worked. When they haven’t worked, it’s usually has something to do with – well, there’s lots of reasons they could not work. But often what you see as a yoga therapist coming in after all that is, or what I’ve seen is that the PT has given them exercises that were too strong. They didn’t work on them gradually and I think that was a problem.

The other thing I see kind of commonly is with older people, say above 60, sometimes they write them off like, “Yeah. You have rotator cuff tears and here’s a couple of exercises.” And, you know, obviously, no PT or Physio should do this, but it just kind of happens a lot. I don’t know if it’s just because of ageism or…because I just see so many and it’s kind of a mill and it’s hard to keep track of everyone. But they say, “Well, you’re good enough.” I get a lot of those. So, one thing you need to remember is that non-painful movement is really important. So the non-weight bearing, no-pain movement to warm up the area, and also to sort of treat whatever arthritis may not be in there coexisting with the tear, so that would be good. Do a lot of that, a lot of moving and breathing. And then when you start to strengthen, one of the key things is to do it in a way that’s suitable to their shoulder. And you can’t always tell while you’re doing it. So a lot of times it’ll feel fine in the session but what you want to do is follow up and make sure that you’re doing things that don’t really inflame it too much, say, the next day afterwards. I always follow up with my clients. So, those are the two things I would think about.

Read how yoga therapy is different from PT.

The third thing is a technique. Actually, Karina in this course was teaching that to us on the last retreat. But where I’ve used forearm stand against the wall, sometimes on the floor, depending on the shoulder to sort of reset the shoulder. I’ve used other techniques like that where you use the muscles and then the working theory is other muscles take over usually for the supraspinatus which is torn. Her group has a technique where you do forearm standing against the wall and you relax your upper traps, and then right afterwards, you kinda swing your arms up and down, and that sort of resets it for the day, or forever, or for a few hours depending on the person. So that’s another technique that I could show you sometime. The main thing is that you have to kind of stay on them and make sure that the strengthening exercises you’re doing are not inflaming it too much because, you know, it’s a sign of a couple of things. But one is that you’re really getting at the sort of attachment where it’s torn and that could be really dangerous.

Where I’ve seen people make mistakes in the past is that they don’t follow up properly. And so the person seems fine, and then it swells up, or it hurts a lot the next day, and then the person thinks, “Well, this is probably just part of me having a hurt shoulder. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.” And that’s kind of the danger zone. So I would be careful there. Make sure you follow up. You want to talk to them on the phone the next day. You can do it by email. I try to actually talk to them so I can ask them some questions. Questions like, “Well, does your whole shoulder hurt today more than it did yesterday? Is it more sore today than it was yesterday?” Some people are pain sensitive and they’ll always tell you something hurts. Other people go the other way and they’ll be like, “Oh, it’s fine.” I have a guy like this right now, actually, I’m working with who says, “Oh yeah, it’s fine.” But what he really means is that he can handle the pain. So you have to ask more specific questions like, “Look, is the pain today worse than it was when we were working yesterday?” That’s a very specific question as opposed to “Does it hurt?” So just keep all that in mind.

Yoga therapy can help and support the treatment of a variety of physical problems such as:

Using Ritual to Balance Anandamaya Kosha [Bliss Body]

“You absolutely can offer ritual to a non-yoga person—someone off the street. People have all sorts of rituals in their life. Watch baseball if you want to see people with rituals.”

Listen in as Brandt gives examples of ritual that can help access bliss and balance the anandamaya kosha [bliss body].

Using Ritual To Balance Anandamaya Kosha

2017 Year End Message From Brandt To BDYT Students

“Teach what is inside you.
Not as it applies to you, to yourself,
but as it applies to the other.” – Śrī T Krishnamacharya

Friends in Yoga,

As I reflect on our school and the changes we have gone through over the year, I am reminded of this quote from the father of modern yoga therapy. This year our student body has grown. Our Advanced Program has taken off and many of you are working on or submitting case studies. I have had the pleasure of working with you on how to effectively serve your yoga therapy clients. Through this, I have witnessed so many of you in a process of transformation.

When we begin sharing yoga, we often teach what we know. What we know is usually what has benefited ourselves. This is how we begin to understand how yoga works. As we delve deeper into the yoga therapy teachings, a shift takes place—we become more in touch with our universal knowledge. The knowledge under the knowledge so to speak. We begin to share universal truth as it applies to our clients. This is what Krishnamacharya speaks of, and is what I have seen in our community this year.

As a teacher, I couldn’t be more pleased. Seeing students deepen their understanding of yoga therapy and gain the ability to share it with great skill and specificity, is a gift. As a school, it speaks so well of our community and our collective power to ease suffering. I am humbled by the hard work you have put towards this goal. I am positive that we will make a real difference in the world in the years to come. Sharing our knowledge from deep within in a way that individuals, health care systems, schools etc… will be able to utilize for the common good.

It is a great honor and privilege to share these teachings with you. May this holiday season be a reminder of the peace and love that exists in all of us.

¡Jai! BDYT Sangham!


Yoga Therapy and Medication

There is a lot of talk about how yoga therapy can help with a wide range of mental health conditions. There also seems to be some dissonance between how yoga and medication intersect. In this segmentBrandt answers one of his students questions about how to work with a client on medication, specifically, what a Yoga Therapist’s scope of practice might look like in this scenario. 

Here, we share a candid moment taken from a live session with students. We are working to spread the word about yoga therapy including the subtle details one must be aware of to be effective. Knowing what you don’t know is key. 

Yoga Therapy and Medication


“It’s definitely not in our scope to comment on medication. You know, you can have personal beliefs about that, but you really have to know the history of someone. So, someone who’s had lifelong depression, you know you’d have to be really sure… well, first of all, you really shouldn’t comment at all as a Yoga therapist. You should say, “Actually you don’t know a lot about medication.” You know, “What I do know is that Yoga therapy can help alleviate the symptoms. And then if you feel like those symptoms are alleviated enough to try pausing your medication, you should talk to your doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist whoever you’re seeing about that.”

That’s for the official line. And then on another note, I would say, there is mounting evidence that medication for mild and possibly moderate depression isn’t that effective. And the reason I bring that up is that mild and moderate depression is not in the suicidal realm.

So, you know, if you had some science based around that and wanted to share studies or points of view from the Yoga Therapy tradition, that would be fine. But I wouldn’t become the ally against medication. I would stay in the zone, not just because of a liability perspective; more in terms of you really want your client to be achieving their personal goals. And so even though someone might say, “my personal goal is to get off medication,” it’s not the only goal. Because…and if you are skilled and talking to them, you would also find out that their other role would to not be depressed. So those things have to balance each other out.

So more important to ally yourself with the pursuit of overall health and happiness. Whatever that means. So that’s my general answer – that I have definitely helped people achieve their goals of getting off medication especially depression – it’s kind of a commonly, in my opinion, overused realm in terms of medication. However, some people you know it’s the perfect thing. And you know without it, it’s not going well. So just keep your mind there.”

Strategies For Working With Client Push Back

In this segment, Brandt discusses how a Yoga Therapist might work with a client that is having difficulty moving forward towards their goals. Listen in as he discusses strategies for working with client push back and creating trust (Satya).

Defensive Or Noncompliant Yoga Therapy Clients

Therapy For Back Pain: What NOT To Do

Listen in as Brandt discusses first steps in dealing with back conditions such as sciatica, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis.

Back Pain: What Not To Do


I’ve gotten a bunch of different people asking what to do about different kinds of back or shoulder pain clients, but the one common theme is, for me anyway, is that we should really know what not to do. If you know what not to do, you can work backwards from there. So we have a lot of back education including in the 800 hour, we deal with that. We just did that last module and the one before. But the main thing is, what I’ve seen, online and then some people are referencing me like, “Oh, my client had sciatica,” or “my client had this or that” and, “I saw these exercises online that are good.” Let’s say, you know, “My client had sciatica and I gave him these exercises that were good for sciatica,” or, “My client had a spinal stenosis and I gave him these exercises,” or, “My client that spondylosis and I gave him these exercises.” A lot of the times, those exercises you find are wrong, and I can’t really tell you why other than, you know, free speech is powerful, and people can say whatever they want.

But just a couple of basics, especially for people in the Foundation’s program who are just getting going. It’s important, you know, to get…the best thing is to always get a diagnosis, which you can’t do, but a doctor can, a specialist, not a PCP. And that usually comes with pictures, like an MRI, and those are really useful and probably one of the top three awesome contributions of Western medicine is being able to take pictures of things and see what they look like. And the reason you want…you don’t have to be able to read the pictures, but you want a diagnosis like, “Oh, we see a bunch of bulging discs,” or, “Oh, we see spondylolisthesis, which is basically a slipping of a vertebra,” or, “We see spinal stenosis, which is like a narrowing of the canal, so it squishes the nerve.” Because each one of those comes with contraindications or things that’ll likely make the problem worse. So an example of that is, if you have bulging disks, you generally don’t want to do anything that involves forward bending, and that also includes twists because most people forward bend a little when they twist unless they’re very body aware.

So you want to be careful with those versus in spondylolisthesis… That word is a bit very difficult for me and they should have named it something else. But it basically means one vertebra…I’m trying to give you a good picture…is slipping, usually forward, over the other. So your vertebrae is stacking, you’ve got one slipping. And in that case, forward bending would be better for it, but you don’t want to bend back. And sometimes, they come together, so you’ll have both of those conditions at the same time. So if you get a client and you don’t know what the problem is and they have some sort of radiating back pain like nerve pain down their leg or, you know, spreading all around, and you’re not sure what to do, you say, “Oh, this would be better if you had a diagnosis.” But you want to do something, I mean, generally, the best thing to teach people, right, in a pinch, is how to extend their spine, like their spine gets longer, and how to do it in a neutral position, without their forward bending or back bending, so that’s where you would start.

So you would look for postural problems. Usually, people come in, they say, “Oh, you know, I have a, you know, thing in my back” and they’re not sitting up straight and they’re not extending, and they probably have a lot of weak muscles. You know, if they’re acute like that, you can’t just muscle tests and be like, “Oh, your hip flexors are weak,” etc., etc. You have to kind of stabilize them in a neutral position first, so that’s what you would do. And then, you would sorta wait to figure out whether you need them to go forward or back. But most likely, in any big back pain scenario, at least in the beginning, either bending forward or back is gonna be contraindicated. So if don’t know which way is, you have to be very mindful. If you want to do no harm, think about neutral. So tadasana neutral, side plank, that’s a little dicier, but if the person’s in better shape, you know, their spine is still neutral, you can do exercises seating on a chair, sitting on a chair in neutral. But if you lie them on the ground, for instance, and they’re in a backbend, and you have a condition where that’s contraindicated, you’re gonna make their symptoms worse. I think there’s same, but the opposite, so if you’re pulling their knees into their chest, you think, “Oh, this is great. I’ll just roll their spine on the ground in apanasana,” or whatever, the problem is that you’re doing constant flexing, constant forward bending of that spine, and if they have disc problems, for instance, you’re making them worse or you’re likely to make them worse. But you can’t just go online and be like, “Oh, I found you 10 cool exercises for spinal stenosis.” Just five minutes before I logged on here, I just did a quick tour of those things and I immediately found many movements that make no sense, many movements that, I would say, are contraindicated for that condition.

Neuroplasticity and Habit Change

Listen in as Brandt discusses how to speak with yoga therapy clients about practices which promote neuroplasticity and how that helps with habit change. If you’re an aspiring yoga therapist looking to get into this emerging field, check out our residential and online training programs to get certified.

Neuroplasticity and Habit Change

Brandt: I think what’s helpful, most helpful for people, is that your brain is completely changeable, and at the same time its tendency is to keep doing the same thing, and therefore, if you want it to change, you actually can’t just think something else, you have to do a practice that changes it. So when I talk to people, and I actually probably have that conversation, one out of five people I see, you know what I mean? Somehow that comes into it because it’s about habit change, right?

And so, the argument for habit change, and I think what’s not intuitive for people, for instance, is that doing an asana practice even, which is shocking to me, makes, you know, enhances neuroplasticity.  So if you want to stop having negative thoughts about … whatever, your spouse, I don’t know, you know what I mean, it wouldn’t naturally occur to you to do a bunch of down-dogs or to do meditation for 15 minutes, right?

So, usually, I’m talking to people about their goals and what’s going to actually get them there. And the science piece is that what’s actually going to get you there, it’s usually around meditation, in my practice right now. So it’s like, what’s actually going to get you there is to actually do this practice that has nothing to do with what you’re trying to do. And that’s the leap, right, because that’s like, “Why would I, you know, follow my breath if I’m trying to…” even, like, lose weight. I mean, whatever, you know, stop eating cookies at night or any kind of habit change, right? Stop road raging. Like, what’s the connection, you know?

Interviewer: And what do you say if they’re like, “How is meditating for 15 minutes a day going to help me stop eating cookies at night?”

Brandt: Because you have your neural pathways that are there now. Your goal is to have different ones, or at least other ones that compete with them. So, right now, you have all the pathway of eat late at night, that’s what we do. And then, you are trying to develop new, basically, brain chemistry is what they’ve found out. That’s the science, right? Is that it’s not just willpower. In fact, it’s not at all. It’s brain chemistry and how your brain…and the brain anatomy, so it’s like how your brain’s actually configured.

So the science says that you are unlikely to make habit changes unless you put yourself in a state where your brain can become more plastic. I try not to use “plastic” because only me and you understand that, you know what I mean? Such a weird word. So, more changeable. And it turns out…and then you go back into yoga land. But often, I’m saying things like, “Tranquility states and meditation, what you’re almost feeling, is the state in which you can change brain chemistry and neural pathways.”

So you would think that the way to not eat cookies at night is to put a note on your fridge saying, or your cabinet door, saying, “Don’t eat cookies,” right? But it’s not. So everything you’ve been trying to do to stop your patterning, you’re working against yourself. You’re wasting your time because all of the science now is saying people don’t do that. But what people do is, for instance, meditate for 20 minutes a day, and they are able to actualize change. So it moves, you know, you’ve changed your brain so now that you can actually do what you want to do.

Introducing Meditation to Beginners [A Yoga Therapist’s How and Why]

In this 5 minute segment taken from a Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy class, Brandt shares a few thoughts on how (and why) a Yoga Therapist might introduce meditation to a client. There are so many possibilities, right?

Introducing Meditation To Beginners

Video Transcript

And actually, talking about Meditation, we have um, I don’t know how far you are in the course but we have different techniques matched to different doshic imbalances. So picking your technique becomes really important. So, it’s not really like a one size fits all kind of thing, so I try to do that, that’s in the course but I try to match a technique.

The other thing that sometimes I do, if it’s just like a general getting someone to meditate who wants to meditate is try out the different techniques and, I do this in a lot of workshops and things I teach too where I do a bunch of different things and then give people queues on, to let them know which one would be better for them.

So, many, many people will have a huge affinity to one technique over another. And you know the body based techniques, the mindfulness based techniques vs like thought techniques vs like japa. Do you know, they’re very different. In fact they have almost, in a way, in a meditation world, they almost have nothing to do with each other, right? Breathing in down to your pelvic floor is very different than saying Om Nama Shivaya you know 108 times. They’re very, they’re not the same. So people come for meditation but then you’re sort of figuring out well what is it that they’re going for. So there’s that.

And the third thing I would say is that this concept that the Buddhist have of tranquility states have you heard those..? Is that something you’ve heard of?

I guess I would just equate it to kind of dropping into the blissful body, sort of thing…?

Yeah, like that first thing that happens if you’re a meditator like after somewhere between 8 and 20 minutes, you enter this state which the Buddhists call the tranquility state which in neuroscience is actually a different brain wave state. And for most, not all, but for most sort of general meditators, for what they’re going for, that’s what they’re looking for. And so…

I know my teacher always would say that you know, of course meditate you know if you’ve got 5 or 10 minutes, you know, try but you know she would always encourage you to try to carve out like a full hour which I don’t know, my busy life, it’s been really really challenging…

Well so this is what I was going to say, it depends why you’re doing it though. So most, almost all meditation traditions are based on you becoming enlightened so most people don’t want to be enlightened. So already you’ve got this weird rub, like that’s not why they’re doing it. They’re like, you know I have a lot of stress right, or I feel like I can’t focus or whatever some sort of thing like that. So or I want to find a little more, you know, peace in my life, a little more space from my thoughts, like these are why most beginners meditate, right. Not all, but most.

So I often will explain like ok there’s this tranquility state and part of what you’re trying to do is to teach your brain that this is possible and that this is going to be from now on a regular activity – this tranquility state. And so, once you match a technique you get them into the technique and ask them to sit long enough where that would be possible which would 10 minutes is sort of practice and then I’d say somewhere more like 20 is pretty solid because with practice you can get into that tranquility state somewhere between 8 and 15 minutes. Which means you’ll be in it for 5 minutes. And that causes a lot of changes in people’s neuroplasticity I think. So often if you explain that to people it’s like the bar isn’t so high. You know what I mean? You’re like, if that’s what you’re going for, you might not get it every time. Here’s the technique, you know we’re going to try. Let me know if you sort of feel this lightness in your body or like you’ve dropped in or like you can breathe again or however they describe it.

And if you’re getting there, that’s enough unless it isn’t. And I know that sounds weird because it’s sort of goal-oriented, but not everybody’s trying to, you know, change themselves that much. And then often from there comes the sort of thirst for more.

Learn more about our Online Meditation Program including the process, the community, and the benefits.

Helping Clients Localize Pain

In this segment, taken from a Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy Program Q&A, Brandt shares techniques for helping clients specifically identify areas of pain.

Helping Clients Localize Pain

Using The Joint Freeing Series To Relieve Suffering

In this segment, Brandt explains how the Joint Freeing Series, which is often applied to physical conditions, can also work for mental conditions by balancing vata energy.

Using The Joint Freeing Series To Balance Vata

The Ethical Yoga Therapist: Choosing Which Client Conditions To Address

In this candid moment, Brandt discusses with his students how Yoga Therapists want to let their clients decide what conditions should be addressed.

As a Yoga Therapist, it’s unethical to push someone to do something even if you think it’s in their best interests…The only way to know if you are of service to someone is to help them with what they want help with. Not with what you want them to do.” —Brandt

The Ethical Yoga Therapist - Choosing Which Client Conditions To Address

Insomnia: Vata Or Pitta Imbalance? [The Path Of The Yoga Therapist]

Listen in as Brandt discusses how insomnia, like many conditions, might look like a vata imbalance, but there is often a pitta imbalance at the root of the issue.


Insomnia: Vata Or Pitta Imbalance?


Brandt: I’ve seen a  lot of people with insomnia with pitta imbalance. So that’s very typical

Student: It seems kind of vata to me

Brandt: why? 

Student: Just because they’re very scattered and can’t settle 

Brandt: Ya but what I’ve found just in practice is that it’s a sort of controlling your energy issue. So often you’ll see this a lot in our course, but often Pitta always almost, Pitta imbalances, overactive pitta will imbalance vata. So it looks like a vata issue and all the vata pacifying practices help the person but the real solution is actually getting their pitta under control. 

Student: um Hmm

Brandt: So that’s not every person who has insomnia. But that’s often. And you just see that over and over again where basically you do tones of vata balancing practices and the person’s like 30% better and you’re like oh good but then it stops. And that’s because you have to address you know the sort of analogy that’s always used is like pitta’s fire right and it moves the air above it right 

Student: Right

Brandt: so we have that issue. So that’s what I’ve seen and that might be to be honest I suspect that’s kind of a Western problem. Because there’s a lot of pitta imbalance in the West just cause the way we live and overactivity. So that’s why I’ve seen it over and over again. But I’ve seen other things you know but I see why you’d say that’s like disorganization 

Student: Um Hmm

Brandt: Insomnia, but often that’s coming from something deeper. So it’s always interesting to me how you know how when you work that way we often do things that you wouldn’t suspect like you’re doing something like you’re sensitizing the person to themselves so there’s a big piece of work there where you’re getting the person to feel their own heat and to leave it in their belly 

Student: Hmm

Brandt: and that’s really hard for people. So it’s a big education for them. It basically forces them to get in touch with their energy and where it is right? While they’re doing things that we do that in asana, we do that in pranayama, you’ll see as you go forward but um and that solves a lot of problems. 

Student: Um Hmm

Brandt: It’s even one of my sort of favourite parts of yoga therapy *laughing* this like solving the Pitta problem.

Get Out Of Pain: Muscles Vs. Fascia [Yoga Therapy Insights]

In this segment of a Yoga Therapy Program Q&A session, Brandt Passalacqua, founder of Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy, discusses why exercises that strengthen muscles and promote muscular balance should be prioritized over simply reshaping fascia.

Fascia Reshaping Vs. Muscle Strengthening


Brandt Passalaqua: First full disclosure, I am a very advanced myofascial massage therapist so I have a very intimate relationship with fascia so I’m with you. Fascinating, incredibly important, you know what I mean, a really good way to think. You can correct fascial imbalances with passive things like you could drape somebody in a backbend over a yoga ball for 20 minutes, the fascia’s going to shift but in terms of teaching somebody how to change their structure so their fascia ends up in the right place, again you’ve got to bring it back to muscles. So the most important thing is that and then thinking fascially becomes sort of, I hesitate to say this but, it becomes secondary in terms of its practicality. 

Student: Uh Huh

Brandt: I mean there are other ways to think about it I mean I know a lot of people do you know have taken stuff with Tom Meyers who’s like you know the king of fascia right. 

Student: uh huh, uh huh

Brandt: He invented the concept of the you know the book, he wrote the book with the lines in them. And so anytime you’re doing yoga, I mean yoga’s Asana is a very fascial experience right if you just like hold poses because it sort of gets you in touch with you know the pull across your chest and triangle maybe or whatever right and that’s all fascia but the fascia, my push back against that is that the fascia, if you look at a cadaver which I’ve done I don’t know have you ever done cadaver viewing ever

Student: No

Brandt: If you cut somebody open and really look at the fascia and stare at it for a while, what you see is like these swaths of white you know or yellow usually in a cadaver fascia and then they’re wrapped in the muscle so there’s not really a good distinction so what the, 

Student: Alright

Brandt: I don’t know I’m just going to put you in this camp for a moment since you started by saying I only hear about fascia so with the 

Student: [laughing]

Brandt: [laughing] so with the fascia loving people you know obsessed people are like it’s all fascia, and they’re right because it’s all connected right. 

Student: Right

Brandt: But there’s another part of that which is like look you’re saying that but really muscles do something a little bit different. They’re totally connected but the muscles are the only thing that we can actually fire right so in terms of like action steps to get rid of pain, muscles are almost always required. 

Student: Okay, okay

Brandt: So you have to have a really good sense of how to tell somebody to strengthen and stretch muscles right and then 

Student: Yep

Brandt: in addition to that what we talk about is how the fascia sort of shapes you but I feel like I guess what’s happened, I use to actually be you know because I’m a myofascial guy, right like that’s like I do hands on fascial work on people you know and I’m really into it [laughs] but what you learn if you do that a long time is that you can reshape and change pain syndromes but until somebody resets their muscle structure so that they hold that, they’re going to be your client forever, you see what I mean

Student: Okay, yep I see what you mean

Brandt: So hence my obsession with strength

Student: Um hum, okay okay

Brandt: But you’re not really talking about different things is my point of the wrap right. You got red muscle with white fascia swirling through it. 

Student: Right

Brandt: So how different is it really. Look, we’re in this course to think about being like general yoga therapy practitioners. So to be balanced, that’s why I do talk about fascia because it’s super important but if you went on the fascial thinking all the way, what we, what you do is you’d have people on props for long periods of time reshaping themselves right. 

Student: Right

Brandt: Like that would be one of the conclusions you could come to and the disservice you would be doing that person, I mean there would be a great service where you’re reshaping their fascia right, and I you know like every yoga asana doing person I do lots of fascial reshaping, restorative kind of things right

Student: uh huh

Brandt: But the disservice you would be doing the person is not teaching them how to keep that fascia where it needs to be right, like in a, while they’re walking around the world.

Student: Okay and that’s strength right that we’re saying, that that’s where the…

Brandt: Ya well that’s yah that’s muscle balance. It’s muscular balance

Student: Okay

Brandt: Which is the same thing because then the fascia goes where it needs to be in other words, if 

Student: Ah

Brandt: the muscles in the back, in your upper back are weak and you’re like this all the time, your fascia is now in this shape

Student: Oh, Ok

Brandt: and we could say, one approach would say we’re going to reshape the fascia by doing this, and another thing to say would be like we’re going to stretch these muscle, it’s the same thing and then another way to think about it is we’re going to do a lot of cobras to strengthen your muscles so that you’re like this muscularly and the fascia will follow.

Ready for a challenge? Apply to become a yoga therapist. A new class is starting soon.

Yoga Therapy For High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure affects 1 in 3 adults in the United States and puts them at greater risk for heart disease and stroke. Here are a few ways yoga therapy can be useful for helping manage high blood pressure.

Benefits of yoga to lower blood pressure

  • Yoga can make muscles more pliable which may correlate to less arterial stiffness. A study in the American Journal of Physiology found that a simple sit and reach test in people over 40 could indicate arterial stiffness. So it is a possibility that more flexibility could correlate with less stiffness in the arteries.
  • Reduced stress levels and associated hormone levels help lower blood pressure. Numerous studies have found that doing yoga poses for high blood pressure reduces cortisol (stress hormone levels). Asana, pranayama, and meditation all have the ability to shift stress levels and tone the parasympathetic nervous system.
  • Yoga has been shown not only to reduce blood pressure levels, it also helps to reduce blood glucose, cholesterol, and body weight. These are the major factors for risk of heart attack and strokes.

These results have been noted in yoga studies using various yoga techniques.

How can a Yoga Therapist help reduce blood pressure

A qualified Yoga Therapist can individualize a practice for their clients—the key to providing the right kind of yoga is to help with specific conditions. (Some yoga poses are contraindicated for high blood pressure for example, some inversions or poses that put pressure on abdomen raising bp.)

To achieve the optimal stress-reducing benefits of yoga, practices should be custom tailored to your personal makeup. In the Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy model, we assess clients and offer specific asana, breathing, and meditation practices to best address a client’s stressors on all levels in order to bring the system back into balance. For instance, while meditation, in general, is good for reducing blood pressure, a Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapist would assign a particular meditation practice that matches the symptoms and Ayurvedic imbalances. In this way, clients achieve greater results as reducing their blood pressure than a generalized approach to their condition.

I have seen many clients improve their blood pressure numbers with yoga therapy, as well as, personally reaping the benefits of reducing my own blood pressure with practice. I encourage anyone struggling with this condition to reach out to us or to a well-qualified Yoga Therapist to begin the process of learning how to reduce their blood pressure and take control of their health.

As always, please use yoga therapy in conjunction with western health care. We are stronger together.

Om Shanti,

Brandt Passalaqua
Director and Lead Teacher, Breathing Deeply

Interested in yoga therapy and helping others? Apply now to join our next class of aspiring Yoga Therapist.

A Yoga Therapist’s Personal Practice [And Why It’s Important]

In this video clip, Brandt discusses the importance of a Yoga Therapist’s personal yoga practice, and why it’s a good idea to regularly schedule practices that are not part of their normal routine.

Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy - A Yoga Therapist's Personal Practice

Addiction: Yoga Therapy Vs. Yoga Class

In this segment from a Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy Q&A, Brandt discusses the difference between private yoga therapy for addiction and the yoga classes commonly found in addiction centers.

Video Transcription

Look, addiction centers, what they generally do is couple yoga with other modalities, right? So a lot of people get into yoga when they’re trying to battle their addiction because they go to addiction treatment center and they basically do yoga. And that yoga is really varied but generally, it’s trauma-sensitive – it’s based on calming the nervous system, the things you’d expect, right? But when you work one-on-one with an addict, what I’m doing is usually two-fold. And the first one is really looking at their doshas and really giving them practices to balance their doshas first.

So that’s sort of the first order of business. A lot of addicts are seriously pitta imbalanced and so I work with that a lot. But then a sort of deeper work is more from a Koscheck perspective where the way I look at it is we’re trying to retrain their system so that their vision of maya-kosha, their unconscious mind is not guiding their actions. So you can get into very deep work. There’s a part of getting out of being an addict – and I’ve been one so I know this – where you’re just sort of gritting your teeth and it works if you work it kind of thing. And that model’s good, but it’s only good to a point because it won’t move you beyond your addictions taking, causing you to act constantly. So the next piece of work then is the stuff we’re actually doing in this course, which is to really understand that those addictive tendencies are…even though they feel energetic and physical and all these things, we’re actually working in the unconscious mind. And the job really is to unearth those things.

So a lot of philosophy, a lot of practice, practice, practice like physical pranayama all to get sort of even dosha-cly but then we like really dive in and try to change how we interact with our system. The practice of yoga in a way is really getting unaddicted to your thoughts is a large part of that practice. And you can say that many ways, right? You could also say it’s getting unaddicted to reacting to your thoughts. But either way, we’re all addicts. So when I’ve worked with addicts, I like working with addicts one-on-one more. I’ve done class work in my life and I like that because I’m more of a…it helps and I like to give people hope in that way that practice can bring them relief. But the other thing which could be super controversial, so I’ll just preface this, is that not all addicts wanna be unaddicted. So as a yoga therapist, your job is to give people the chance to investigate whether they do or not and then what you usually find out is who is really interested in changing. That’s true of everything, but it’s in starker relief with addiction.

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