Frequently Asked Questions
Viniyoga Therapist Training
Questions about the program? You aren't alone...
Email Dona Robinson, AVI Student Advisor. If you need to talk with a faculty member, Dona will connect you with the training coordinator.
If I am already certified as a yoga teacher in another lineage, why do I need to take pre-requisite training with AVI?
It is important for students who enter the Viniyoga Therapist Training to have a similar foundation in the Viniyoga methodology. The AVI Viniyoga Therapist Training is a clinical training program that applies theory, frameworks and tools of Viniyoga to individuals and groups of people with structural, physiological, and psychological health conditions.
AVI’s prerequisite program, the Viniyoga Foundations Program for Teaching and Yoga Therapy, provides:
- A theoretical understanding of the philosophy and science of Yoga and the practical application of this knowledge to personal practice and the art of teaching
- a strong foundation in Viniyoga to prepare students to provide group and individual yoga instruction in diverse settings for the general population
- study and practice of asana, pranayama, meditation and chanting, and
- Study of chapters 1 & 2 of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.
There are options in the Viniyoga Foundations Program for Teaching and Yoga Therapy to do a 300 hour track (for those who are already 200 hr. level teachers or licensed/registered health care professionals) or a 500 hour track (for RYT-500).
What makes the AVI Viniyoga Therapist Training unique?
AVI’s Viniyoga Therapist Training is rooted in the authentic transmission of yoga that Gary Kraftsow received from his teachers. Krishnamacharya was not only a Yoga master and a master Yoga therapist but he was also well versed in Ayurveda, Jyotish, and the various religious traditions of India as well. Desikachar, also a master therapist, added to these fields of knowledge an education in Western science and a deep understanding of Western healthcare models. The deep knowledge and experience of Gary’s teachers shaped his orientation to the study, practice, and teaching of Yoga.
Gary’s own evolution as a Yoga practitioner, Yoga teacher, Yoga therapist, and trainer of both Yoga teachers and Yoga therapists has been shaped by the way he was taught and what he was encouraged to do by his teacher. He has been practicing Yoga therapy, according to the way he was trained, since the early 1980s. Only after many years of one-on-one client care, and the continued prompting from his teacher, did he become actively involved in training Yoga teachers and Yoga therapists.
Gary Kraftsow is Director and Senior Teacher of the AVI Viniyoga Therapist Training Program. Gary Kraftsow has been a pioneer in the transmission of Yoga for health, healing and personal transformation for 30 years. Gary has successfully developed Yoga Therapy interventions for two National Institutes of Health studies: "Evaluating Yoga for Chronic Low Back Pain" and "Yoga Therapy for Generalized Anxiety." He is the author of two books published by Penguin: YOGA FOR WELLNESS and YOGA FOR TRANSFORMATION; and author of four educational DVD's including: Viniyoga Therapy for Low Back, Sacrum and Hips, Viniyoga Therapy for Upper Back, Neck and Shoulders, Viniyoga Therapy for Depression and Viniyoga Therapy for Anxiety.
Authentic Tradition of Yoga Therapy Rooted in Ancient Teachings
Yoga therapy’s roots reach back thousands of years into Vedic teachings and science. According to that ancient tradition, Yoga therapy was an adaptation of Yoga that synthesized Yoga and Ayurveda and often included Jyotish and aspects of ritualized practices that stem from various sectarian faiths. The application of Yogic technologies in this therapeutic model was called Yoga cikitsa.
Many Yoga teachers appreciated the therapeutic value of Yoga, but few were formally trained as Yoga therapists. As the market for teacher training programs becomes saturated, many yoga schools are looking at Yoga therapy as the next business opportunity to be exploited. Numerous new Yoga therapy programs are appearing in the market. Some of these programs are rooted in the ancient tradition and others are a hybrid of Yoga and other ideas, techniques, and practices. While programs in this second category may be creative, innovative, and truly helpful to many, they do not authentically represent the teachings, methods, and tradition of Yoga therapy.
“There is an authentic tradition of Yoga therapy, rooted in ancient teachings, that has a vital role to play in addressing the modern Western healthcare crisis. That role, in part, is helping with the paradigm shift from illness-based and health-practitioner-based care to wellness-based and self- based care. As a community of Yoga therapists, we have a tremendous opportunity and even responsibility to bring forward these teachings in a credible and legitimate way.” -- Gary Kraftsow, MA, E-RYT 500
Applicable to Modern Healing
Gary’s teacher, T.K.V. Desikachar, advised him to study western medical science. Desikachar envisioned Gary's critical role in bringing yoga and yoga therapy into western health care in the future. Gary’s philosophy is that Yoga Therapists must understand the ancient tradition of Yoga Therapy and how to bring make those teachings applicable in a variety of settings, including western health care settings.
Dynamic Course of Study and Mentoring
Becoming a skilled Viniyoga Therapist requires a thorough course of study and mentoring with skilled and experienced Viniyoga Therapists. AVI's Viniyoga Therapist Training Program includes approximately 1000 hours of study through lecture, clinical case study demonstrations, small group discussions, anatomy and physiology study, directed reading, student case study presentations, conference calls, clinical practicum hours, one-on-one feedback from experienced Certified Viniyoga Therapists and pre-requisites taken in the Viniyoga Foundations Program.
AVI faculty members are highly trained and skilled Viniyoga Therapists who also understand how Viniyoga Therapy interfaces with western medicine.
What are the anatomy and physiology requirements and how do I best complete them?
There are 50 hours of study in Anatomy before session #1 and 25 hours in Physiology before session #2.
These requirements can be met through self-study, workshops, on-line courses or college-level courses.
Suggested resources are provided upon registration for session #1. AVI faculty recommends a review of general anatomy combined with a targeted study of common Viniyoga asanas. Physiology study is a review of organ systems plus study of more commonly diagnosed conditions in the general population.
Prior study in Anatomy and Physiology may meet program requirements.
The Anatomy.net On-line Course with Leslie Kaminoff is highly recommended and is available to AVI students for a reduced price.
How have graduates used their skills to advance their careers?
AVI graduates of the Viniyoga Therapist Training are using their skills in a variety of settings including Yoga studios, complementary health and wellness practices, hospitals, outpatient medical clinics, senior centers, schools, universities, health clubs, spas, retreat centers, hotels/resorts, worksites or other settings.
Viniyoga Therapists may conduct general Viniyoga classes, Viniyoga Therapy group classes, workshops or one-on-one Yoga Therapy.
Viniyoga Therapists are also uniquely qualified to develop therapeutic Yoga products based on their prior skills and experience in formats such as audio, video, web-based and print.
Some AVI Viniyoga Therapist Training graduates are lecturers in teacher training programs in their area and mentors in AVI professional training programs or for other aspiring yoga teachers. Many of our graduates are putting together private practices that include a variety of work such as teaching Yoga Therapy group classes, general Viniyoga classes, workshops/retreats/ conferences and collaboration with other health professionals for special projects and programs.
- John Kepner, MA, MBA, is an AVI Certified Viniyoga Teacher and Therapist in Little Rock, Arkansas. In addition to his private practice, he is using his AVI training and skills to help advance the profession of Yoga Therapy as Executive Director of the International Association of Yoga Therapists.
- Corinne Peterson, RYT 500, MPH, LMT is certified by the American Viniyoga Institute as a Viniyoga Teacher (2003) and a Yoga Therapist (2006). She has training in two other Yoga lineages and received Yoga of the Heart Certification (for working with people with heart disease and cancer) and additional training in prenatal yoga. Her yoga teaching and Yoga Therapy practice in Chicago, IL has been shifting from prenatal Yoga to working with women in mid-life, cancer survivors, seniors, and hospice care. "Viniyoga has provided a strong foundation upon which I can adjust to my own interests and my clients changing needs. Viniyoga has been a rich path for me."
- Emily Large, PT, CYT, RYT-500 is the founder of Living Large Therapeutics in Florida and Georgia, which combines the science of physical therapy with the time-honored practice of yoga. Emily has used her AVI Viniyoga training to provide training programs for physical therapists and other allied professionals. She presents at national conferences and events on Viniyoga Therapy topics.
- Courtney Buck, DPT, RYT and Gary Schroeder, MA, RRT-NPS, RYT, both AVI Viniyoga Therapist Training students, own and operate Parker Yoga Therapy in Parker, CO. It is an independently owned, therapeutically oriented Yoga studio that offers individual Yoga Therapy and group Yoga Therapy classes such as Yoga for a Healthy Spine and Yoga for Every Body.
- Carol Dunaway, CYT, E-RYT 500 owns and operates CNRGY, Yoga Therapy and Therapeutic Pilates in Springfield, IL, a city with approximately 116,000 people. Carol graduated from AVI’s Viniyoga Teacher Training in 2007 and the Viniyoga Therapist Training in 2009. She works full-time, offering individualized Yoga Therapy and group classes in her studio in addition to teaching for the Simmons Cancer Institute.
- Michele Hoffman, RYT, Certified Yoga Therapist of Bluff Country Yoga is employed as a Yoga Therapist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing, MN where she designs customized Yoga Therapy practices for patients referred by medical providers. She also works in the health system’s hospice program helping patients with managing pain, anxiety, and shortness of breath at the end of life. Michele credits the AVI Viniyoga Therapist training with giving her the tools to work across disciplines in the health care environment.
- Justine Shelton, E-RYT 500, Certified Yoga Therapist credits her AVI training with giving her the confidence to develop yoga therapy DVDs, Yoga for a Healthy Low Back and Yoga for Healthy Knees and Hips. Justine offers specialized Yoga Therapy classes, workshops and privates in Oceanside, CA.
- Ellen Fein, LCSW, Certified Viniyoga Therapist, Cancer Coach, of Montpelier, VT specializes in Yoga Therapy for cancer and other challenging health conditions. She teaches gentle adaptive Yoga classes, facilitates cancer and other mind-body workshops and offers one-on-one Yoga Therapy.
- Trish Elting, AVI-Certified Viniyoga Teacher and Yoga Therapist, Reiki Master, carved out a niche for a Yoga Therapy practice in the country’s heartland. Trish offers small semi-private classes and private Yoga Therapy at her studio, Sage Stone Yoga Therapy, in Kansas City, MO. Trish, former “front chick” for a rock band, enjoys teaching others how sound can influence the nervous system through the art of Vedic Chant. She offers specialized workshops in Yoga for Anxiety and Vedic Chanting.
Does the Viniyoga Therapist Training qualify for CEUs?
Your professional designation upon successful completion of studies will be as an American Viniyoga Institute Certified Viniyoga Therapist.
AVI Viniyoga Therapist Training program hours may qualify for continuing education for some health care or complementary health professionals. Please check with your credentialing organization or state licensure or certification board if you have any questions. If you need documentation of your participation in the training, please contact AVI at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AVI Viniyoga Therapist Training qualifies for Yoga Alliance continuing education hours for yoga teachers.
Is the Viniyoga Therapist Training only for health professionals?
Viniyoga Therapy is rooted in the teachings of Yoga. Anyone who has the desire to serve others with teachings of Yoga can pursue professional training as a Viniyoga Therapist. Musicians, baristas, administrators, grandparents, teachers, farmers, videographers, writers, anthropologists, complementary health and traditional health care providers…we welcome students from a variety of backgrounds. Our diverse training groups enrich the learning environment for everyone.
Are there work opportunities for Viniyoga Teachers/Yoga Therapists who are not health professionals?
Yoga Therapy is a rapidly evolving profession. Anyone who studies and joins the profession will be among colleagues who are defining what it means to be a Yoga Therapist and creating opportunities in a diversity of settings to provide Yoga Therapy. Graduates of past AVI Viniyoga Therapist Trainings are using their skills in a variety of settings including yoga studios, complementary health and wellness practices, hospitals, outpatient medical clinics, senior centers, schools, universities, health clubs, spas, retreat centers, hotels/resorts, worksites or other settings.
How much Ayurveda is incorporated into the training?
The AVI Viniyoga Therapist Training provides a basic foundation in Ayurveda through lectures, reading, and application as it relates to Viniyoga Therapy. It is not Ayurveda training.
What other models are used in the program?
The AVI Viniyoga Therapist Training is based on the ancient principles of Yoga cikitsa, which derive from the Yoga tradition of Patanjali and the Ayurvedic system, which in turn derive from Sankhya and the Upanishadic traditions of Vedic India.
I have questions about the Viniyoga Therapist Training. Who should I contact?
Contact AVI Student Advisor, Dona Robinson.