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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Selecting A Yoga Therapist: International yoga therapy leader, Matthew Taylor, of Scottsdale, describes key considerations

Sep 03, 2012 05:43PM ● By Matthew J. Taylor

New research is constantly published demonstrating ways that yoga is helpful for many health challenges. Yoga helps back pain, depression, stroke-related loss of balance, PTSD and much more. When looking for yoga to complement a medical treatment, not just as a recreational, fitness or spiritual practice, it is important to understand the need to go beyond the general precautions for keeping yoga safe. Here are some resources to assist in making the right decision.

Finding a yoga therapist

The International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) is a professional association of nearly 3,000 yoga therapists around the world. They have a “find a therapist” function that allows individuals to find and review a therapist’s background and areas of specialty in a specific geographic area. Once located, check their references and schedule an interview before attending a class or session (

Questions to ask

A free journal article published by IAYT about the important additional safety features that yoga therapy should address beyond general yoga is available online ( At a minimum, the therapist should listen to your history, watch you move and assess your limitations, while informing you of any health precautions specific to your health history.

Osteoporosis and concerns about bones

IAYT offers another free public service article on yoga and osteoporosis for just that very reason ( Access a free webinar from the National Osteoporosis Foundation that details modifications to make, how to get started and postures to avoid (

The guiding principle

Yoga, done properly, can support any level of health or medical challenge from quite literally cradle to grave. The overarching principle of yoga is that of ahimsa (non-harming). Doing your homework first to find and get to know the therapist is part of the yoga, because you are standing up for your special needs to insure your safety. If the therapist doesn’t have time or seems to want to shortcut the process, move on. You are worth the extra effort.

Matthew J. Taylor, PT, Ph.D., ERYT-500, is an international yoga therapy leader who founded the yoga-based Dynamic Systems Rehabilitation Clinic, in Scottsdale. For more information, visit or

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