Frequently Asked Questions

Vinyoga Foundations Program

Students with a wide range of yoga and yoga teaching experience attend the Viniyoga Foundations Program. Some students have never taught yoga and attend our program to deepen their knowledge of Viniyoga and to begin their teaching careers.

Many of our students are experienced yoga teachers who have completed other yoga teacher training programs and wish to continue on to complete the Viniyoga Therapist Training or to complete the 300 hour Advanced Studies Option to become RYT-500 through Yoga Alliance. Experienced teachers attend the program to immerse themselves in the Viniyoga approach, deepen their knowledge and experience of yoga and refine their teaching skills.

Many students are interested in the program for deepening their personal practice and knowledge of Viniyoga. If an interest in teaching develops during the course of the training, you can complete all four sessions to be certified as a Viniyoga Teacher and be RYT-500 eligible with Yoga Alliance.

The primary teacher is Gary Kraftsow, AVI Founder and Director, who has extensive experience in Yoga and Yoga teacher training and has Yoga Alliance ERYT-500 designation.

Gary Kraftsow, MA, E-RYT 500, has been actively training Yoga teachers since 1984, and has been offering the AVI Yoga Teacher Training Program since 1999. He is a master level teacher and a trainer of Viniyoga Teachers and Yoga Therapists. He has been actively involved as a practitioner of Viniyoga for over 40 years.

Students at the training benefit from his presence and many years of experience as a teacher, Yoga Therapist, trainer of teachers and Yoga Therapists in the Viniyoga methodology and author of Yoga for WellnessYoga for Transformation, Viniyoga Therapy for Low Back, Sacrum and Hips DVD, Viniyoga Therapy for Upper Back, Neck and Shoulders DVD, and Chanting Live with Gary Kraftsow CD. Gary is directly involved in the training on a daily basis and is the main lecturer. He has certified hundreds of yoga teachers and Yoga Therapists. For a complete list of AVI certified Yoga teachers, Yoga Therapists and students in training, please check the Teacher and Yoga Therapist Directory

Individual assistance to students is provided through mentors who are experienced AVI-trained Viniyoga teachers and Yoga Therapists carefully selected by Gary because of their skill, expertise and experience. Mentors teach some portions of program sessions, lead small groups, meet with students about their home study, and maintain contact with students between program sessions.

We strongly recommend that students new to the Viniyoga approach attend a workshop or online classes with Gary Kraftsow before attending the first program session.

How to Get Ready for the Training: 

  1. Commit to a personal practice. It’s the most important way to begin to integrate what you will learn in the training.
  2. Attend an event with Gary Kraftsow
  3. Attend classes or workshops with a Viniyoga teacher or AVI Yoga Therapist
  4. Work one-on-one with a local Viniyoga teacher or AVI Yoga Therapist
  5. Read Yoga for Wellness and Yoga for Transformation by Gary Kraftsow
  6. Review the lectures and do the practices (if it is appropriate for your body) on Gary Kraftsow’s DVDs: Viniyoga Therapy for Low Back, Sacrum and Hips and Viniyoga Therapy for Upper Back, Neck and Shoulders, or try a digital workshop:  Asana Unlocked, Pranayama Unlocked, or Meditation Unlocked.
  7. Visit the Viniyoga Facebook page to listen to audio and video from Gary Kraftsow lectures.

The program includes online recorded content and clinics as well as one week in person per session. In addition, there is guided home study between program sessions.

The structure of our training is different than many other 300 or 500 hour Yoga teacher training programs. A new training group begins approximately every two years.

Most students who enroll in a training program stay with the same faculty and student group for the three or four-session program. In our experience, a cohesive training group forms and students actively work to support each other’s learning process, both during and between program sessions.

Lifelong friendships and professional relationships form over the course of the training. Students also develop relationships with mentors who can continue to be a source for additional study and support as their teaching or personal development path unfolds.

Our program sessions build upon each other and we recommend that you take the sessions in the order they are offered. Students who cannot attend a specific training session generally make up the program session the next time the missed program session is offered. We may recommend some additional work or study to be adequately prepared if a session is missed.

Each in person session begins with an evening orientation followed by five training days.

A typical day begins with an early morning practice followed by breakfast, a three-hour morning session, a lunch break, a three-hour afternoon session, and a few 1 – 2 hour early evening sessions.

Each training day is full and includes 6 – 8 hours of lectures, practice, and small group experiences.  We have one half day off in each in person session. Students use the time off to rest, study, and complete training assignments.  There is guided home study and between program sessions, as well as monthly online clinics.

Yes. The VFP programs are approved by Yoga Alliance at the 300 and 500 hour level.

Frequently Asked Questions

Viniyoga Clinical Applications Program

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. It begins with the Viniyoga Foundations Program for Teaching and Yoga Therapy and 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 āsana, prāṇāyāma, meditation and chanting, and
  • study of chapters 1 & 2 of Patañjali’s Yoga Sutra-s.

Authentic Transmission

AVI’s Viniyoga Therapist Training is rooted in the authentic transmission of yoga that Gary Kraftsow received from his teachers. Kriṣṇamācārya 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. Deśikācar, also a Master Yoga 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 40 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: Yoga For Wellness and Yoga for Transformation; four educational DVD’s: 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; and five online workshops:  Pranayama Unlocked, Meditation UnlockedYoga Therapy for Depression, Yoga Therapy for Better Sleep, and Yoga 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, C-IAYT

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.

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 On-line Course with Leslie Kaminoff is highly recommended and is available to AVI students for a reduced price.

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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 KepnerMA, 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 PetersonRYT 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 LargePT, 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 BuckDPT, RYT and Gary SchroederMA, 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 HoffmanRYT, 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.
  • Trish EltingAVI-Certified Viniyoga Teacher and Yoga Therapist, Reiki Master, carved out a niche for a Yoga Therapy practice in the country’s heartland. Trish offers private one-on-one mentering. 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.

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

AVI Viniyoga Therapist Training qualifies for Yoga Alliance continuing education hours for yoga teachers.

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.  We welcome students from a variety of backgrounds:  Musicians, baristas, administrators, grandparents, teachers, farmers, videographers, writers, anthropologists, complementary health and traditional health care providers. Our diverse training groups enrich the learning environment for everyone.

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.

The AVI Viniyoga Therapist Training is based on the ancient principles of Yoga cikitsa, which derive from the Yoga tradition of Patañjali and the Ayurvedic system, which in turn derive from Sankhya and the Upanishadic traditions of Vedic India.