Yoga Certification for Occupational Therapists

After receiving her yoga certification for occupational therapists, this OT helps an elderly patient stretch with yoga

As an occupational therapist, you work to help the people you serve to develop the strength, strategies, and skills they need to live happy, independent lives. But have you ever wondered: what can occupational therapists do with yoga? Your services are invaluable to your clients, and getting yoga therapy training and even a yoga certification for occupational therapists can give you even more options to help these clients and expand your career.

At Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy, we offer yoga therapy training that prepares you to work with a range of clients and their health conditions, both mental and physical. From children to the elderly, mobility issues to autism, yoga can be a life-changing tool to help clients heal and gain better control over their bodies.

We’ve had the pleasure of providing yoga therapy training for occupational therapists in the past, and we’d love to welcome more OTs into our next round of classes. Keep reading to learn about our adaptive yoga training for occupational therapists or get in touch with our team today.

Table of Contents:

Can OTs Do Yoga?

Many people assume that occupational therapy and yoga are mutually exclusive disciplines. This assumption is often reinforced by the fact that people most commonly go to see an occupational therapist and a yoga therapist separately.

Finding a yoga therapist who also has occupational therapy experience can be a huge convenience and benefit to these clients’ health and wellness. More and more OTs are looking into yoga as a means of expanding their practices as well as improving outcomes for the people they serve.

But OTs can’t just start doing yoga without being properly trained first. Yoga therapists learn specific techniques and strategies to work with specific pathologies. Without this specialized knowledge, it is possible to use or recommend yoga techniques in a way that is harmful to clients, which is why it’s critical to undergo yoga training for occupational therapists first.

What Can Occupational Therapists Do with Yoga?

A patient using an exercise ball for support to stretch, showing what occupational therapists can do with yoga

Once you receive training, occupational therapists can do a lot with yoga:

  • Improve clients’ mobility, flexibility, and muscle strength
  • Support elderly clients’ physical health with techniques and strategies for osteoporosis, balance issues, and other common problems
  • Address mental components to a client’s health, such as autism, ADHD, OCD, anxiety, depression, and more
  • Ultimately, have additional tools to give a wide range of clients greater independence

Improvements in these areas would enhance any physical therapy regimen, including almost any occupational therapeutic treatment goal. Studies have indicated that yoga can improve balance and mobility in older adults as well as benefit their mental well-being, among many other benefits for a range of populations.

While physical exercise alone is recommended for almost anyone, it is generally focused on improving muscular strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness. This can leave muscles needed for specific tasks undeveloped, as exercise tends to be done in a repetitive, mechanical fashion.

Yoga remedies the limitations of other exercises by adding organic movements, dynamic tension, and all the benefits of a spiritual tradition that is thousands of years in the making. Not only does yoga support physical health, but mental and emotional health as well, creating a more holistic approach.

How Is Yoga Used in Occupational Therapy?

If you receive yoga therapy training and even yoga certification for occupational therapists, the next step is to bring it into your practice (or start a yoga therapy practice and use your OT techniques there). Of course, this is what you’ll learn how to do throughout the course of your training.

To give you an idea of how yoga can be used in occupational therapy, here is an overview of some of yoga’s most common techniques:

  • Asanas, or yoga poses, allow you to incorporate a variety of physical movements and postures into your practice.
  • Pranayama, or breathwork, involves consciously controlling the depth, duration, and pattern of your breathing.
  • Meditation heightens your attention, awareness, and focus to help clear your mind and achieve a state of calmness.

With these techniques and training on how to use them, you can add even more tools for supporting physical health to your practice. Yoga therapy can also help to fill in the gaps to address mental conditions that your clients may face which affect their lives and treatment. Not only that, but yoga is something that clients can learn to practice on their own as well, giving them greater independence and agency over their bodies.

What Is Adaptive Yoga for Special Needs?

A woman in Warrior Pose demonstrating how to use chair yoga poses for muscular dystrophy.

Many able-bodied people are intimidated by yoga or simply believe they can’t do it well enough for it to be worthwhile. This can be especially true for those who are living with an injury, illness, disability, birth defect, or have other special needs.

That’s where adaptive yoga comes in. Adaptive yoga is a way to make the benefits of yoga available to people who might otherwise not be able to perform the movements and poses in their traditional forms.

Asanas, or yoga poses, are adapted to work for those who may not be able to perform them otherwise. Chair yoga, which adapts asanas to be done while using a chair, is a prime example of adaptive yoga.

For the occupational therapist looking to expand their therapeutic offerings with yoga, adaptive yoga is almost always going to be right on target. It is important to complete adaptive yoga training for occupational therapists to use these techniques safely with clients.

What Are Adaptive Yoga Techniques?

As mentioned above, adaptive yoga techniques are modified versions of traditional yoga poses. The purpose of these modifications is to accommodate physical limitations such as injury or impairment, mobility restrictions, balance deficits, and more.

These modifications are designed to enable those with such physical limitations to gain the benefits of yoga without the pain or risk of injury that attempting to perform the traditional pose might involve. Rather than push a person to perform a traditional pose, adaptive yoga permits clients to work within their bodies’ abilities with confidence.

Yoga can be adapted to accommodate for an individual’s strength, flexibility, mobility, and spatial relationships. Adaptive yoga can help clients who struggle to perform traditional yoga asanas due to a range of circumstances, such as:

Common use cases for adaptive yoga techniques include:

  • Adapting asanas to be performed seated in a chair
  • Adapting asanas to be performed standing while using a chair to lean on for support
  • Adapting asanas to use other props for support, such as blocks, bolsters, straps, and cushions
  • Adapting transitions between yoga sequences to make them more accessible
  • Adapting stances to be wider than usual

With adaptive yoga techniques at your disposal, your OT practice will offer even more value to the people you serve. It can open doors of opportunity for you, make new clients interested in your services, and boost your job satisfaction immensely. The next step is finding adaptive yoga training for occupational therapists to practice yoga safely.

How to Find Adaptive Yoga Training for Occupational Therapists

An OT working with a child to stretch their legs using a prop, demonstrating the uses of adaptive yoga training for occupational therapists

You may not have heard of adaptive yoga before today, but as an occupational therapist, you’ll likely find that it is right in your wheelhouse. As explained above, adaptive yoga is based on the fact that not all bodies are built the same and we cannot all perform the same movements in the same way.

The idea applies to anyone with varying strengths, flexibility, and body mechanics. But more importantly, adaptive yoga is about helping people with injuries, illnesses, and disabilities to safely perform asanas and benefit from yoga.

As an occupational therapist, you are uniquely well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunities provided by adaptive yoga. All you need is the right adaptive yoga training for occupational therapists.

To make the most of your yoga therapy training, think about which health conditions affect the population you want to serve:

  • Are you predominantly focused on balance and mobility issues? Are there other health concerns that tend to come up for the population you want to serve?
  • Do you want to help a particular population, such as children, the elderly, veterans, or amputees? What are the barriers and health issues they most often face?
  • Do you want to specialize in treating a specific condition, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, arthritis, or carpal tunnel syndrome?
  • Are there mental health conditions that impact your clients in their daily lives, careers, or treatments? If so, what are they?

Look for a yoga therapy program that addresses both physical and mental health issues, and ask if they offer lessons, training, or case studies on the health conditions and concerns that affect your clientele.

What Qualifies a Yoga Therapist?

If you’re wondering what qualifies a yoga therapist, the short answer is completing yoga therapy training. The journey to becoming a qualified yoga therapist generally looks like this:

  1. Completing your 200-hour yoga teacher training. This is a prerequisite for yoga therapy programs, and it will give you a starting place for understanding yoga techniques and developing a personal practice. It also allows you to teach yoga poses and certain other techniques to group yoga classes. Even at this stage, you can start seeing the benefits of yoga for occupational therapists.
  2. Completing your yoga therapy training. This specialized training will teach you to apply yoga techniques to specific health conditions, both physical and mental. You will learn how to use yoga therapeutically with your clients in ways that can enhance your OT practice. If you’re interested in starting a private yoga therapy practice and applying your occupational therapy skills there, Breathing Deeply’s yoga therapy training includes lessons on the business side of being a yoga therapist that can help. You will develop a deeper understanding of the theories and practices of yoga, as well as learn how to bridge the gap between Eastern and Western medicine to best benefit your clients.
  3. Completing advanced yoga therapy training if desired. At Breathing Deeply, we offer a Foundations Program that provides you with yoga therapy training in as little as 1 year. For OTs who already have their occupational therapy license, this may be all you need to start bringing yoga therapy into your practice and helping your clients. If you’re looking for more advanced training that will allow you to get certified, however, you can complete our 800-hour Advanced Program in as little as 2 years, which includes all of the training from the Foundations Program.
  4. Getting IAYT certified if desired. The International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) sets the standard for our industry and offers the highest level of yoga therapy certification. You must complete your 800-hour yoga therapy training from an IAYT accredited program such as Breathing Deeply’s, become an IAYT member, pass the IAYT Certification Exam, and pass the IAYT Ethics and Scope of Practice Quizzes in order to earn certification through the IAYT. This is the best option for yoga certification for occupational therapists.

What’s the Best Yoga Certification for Occupational Therapists?

If you’re looking for the best yoga certification for occupational therapists, you’ll want to get certified with the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT).

As mentioned above, the IAYT provides the highest level of certification for yoga therapy. Their certification is the industry standard. If you encounter clients who want more information about your yoga therapy credentials, IAYT certification will be one of the best ways to reassure them.

To become an IAYT certified yoga therapist, you must satisfy the following conditions:

  • Complete your 800-hour yoga therapy training from an IAYT accredited program like Breathing Deeply.
  • Become an IAYT member.
  • Pass the IAYT Certification Exam
  • Pass the IAYT Ethics and Scope of Practice Quizzes.

However, you can get started with yoga therapy for your clients as soon as you complete your yoga therapy training.

Is Yoga Certification for Occupational Therapists Worth It?

For those who want to support clients’ independence, healing, and physical and mental health, yoga therapy training is well worth it for occupational therapists to complete. Yoga therapy is an excellent way to supplement your occupational therapy experience and provide a more holistic approach.

Getting certified as a yoga therapist can help signal to others that you have been properly trained to work safely and knowledgeably with your clients. It can help to legitimize your new skills and techniques, putting clients at ease and furthering your career.

However, you can start using yoga therapy with clients as soon as you finish your yoga therapy training. Yoga certification for occupational therapists who already have an OT license may not always be necessary. Your clientele may not be interested in seeing that you are also a certified yoga therapist, as long as you have successfully completed yoga therapy training.

Get Started with Breathing Deeply

Are you looking to take the next step in your career? Do you want adaptive yoga training for occupational therapists to help a diverse range of clients?

At Breathing Deeply, we’re passionate about providing the very best yoga therapy training. Our mission is to make safe, practical, and ethical yoga therapy more widely accessible. We understand and appreciate the importance of working with clients to address their unique bodies and needs.

As one of the co-founders of Breathing Deeply, I would be proud to have you consider our programs. We offer 200-hour yoga teacher training for anyone who needs to meet that prerequisite, as well as our yoga therapy training programs. Our IAYT accredited yoga therapy training prepares occupational therapists for yoga therapy certification if desired as well.

Apply to one of our programs today or get in touch with us for more information.

Info Session

Brandt talks about common questions applicants have about the Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy Program. Tune in to get the full program details.