Yoga Therapy Training

A Living Healing Tradition

AVI’s® Viniyoga Therapist Training Program welcomes students from all yogic lineages and is comprised of two components of four sessions each:

Component 1: Viniyoga Foundations Program (4 sessions)
Component 2: Viniyoga Clinical Applications Program (4 sessions)

Your journey toward Yoga Therapist certification begins with the AVI® Viniyoga Foundations Program.  The second component of the program — the AVI® Viniyoga Clinical Applications program — continues to expound upon personal practice and the study of āsana, prāṇāyāma, chanting, meditation, tantra, teaching methodology and yoga philosophy begun in VFP.  During this second step on the path to AVI® Yoga Therapist certification, you will also study some basic tenets of Ayurveda, as well as Vedic models and western healthcare models and practices so you can work in tandem with healthcare practitioners.

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The Goal

The goal of Viniyoga Therapy is to empower individuals facing health conditions to use the tools of yoga to manage their condition and improve their health and well-being.

The Settings

The settings of practice for Viniyoga Therapists include private practice, yoga schools, community settings and Western healthcare system settings.

The Content

The content of the Viniyoga Therapist Training builds on the theory and methods covered in AVI’s® Viniyoga Foundations Program for Teaching and Yoga Therapy.

Who is eligible for this program?

You must be a 500-hour Certified Viniyoga Teacher to be eligible for Viniyoga Clinical Applications Program.

Some exceptions may be considered for yoga teachers who have completed a 500-hour teacher training program in the Desikachar/Krishnamacharya lineage. To find out more about this procedure, please contact our Student Advisor.


  1. Philosophy and theory of yoga and Ayurveda: application to physical and emotional health
  2. Western models of human development, health and disease
  3. Teaching and therapeutic relationship skills
  4. Communication skills with students and healthcare professionals
  5. Clinical decision-making skills: interviewing, observation/assessment, treatment planning, and intervention
  6. Application of yoga methods (āsana, prāṇāyāma, meditation, chanting, personal ritual, vicāra) to commonly occurring structural, physiological and emotional conditions
  7. Design of practices for groups of students with a similar condition
  8. Strategies for working in the healthcare system
  9. Professional issues: documentation, ethics, business practices, legal aspects of practice, ongoing personal and professional development


Session 1: Overview of Yoga Therapy; Yoga Therapy and Musculo-skeletal Health

  • Yoga Therapy overview
  • Clinical decision making process
  • Therapeutic relationship and communication skills
  • Fundamentals of musculo-skeletal assessment,
  • Yoga Therapy for commonly occurring structural health issues
  • Business and Professional Issues including Ethics in Yoga Therapy Practice

Session 2: Yoga Therapy and Physiological Health

  • Yoga, Ayurvedic and Western perspectives on health and disease
  • Assessment of physiological health
  • Yoga Therapy for commonly occurring physiological health conditions
  • Design of Yoga Therapy groups
  • Professional development issues, including application of the Yoga Sutras/Philosophy to Yoga Therapy Practice

Session 3: Yoga Therapy Perspectives on Mind, Emotions and Behavior

  • Assessment of emotional health issues
  • Yoga Therapy for commonly occurring mental and emotional health conditions, pain, chronic illness, cancer, grief, habit change, tobacco addiction, and eating disorders
  • Professional, business, ethical and legal Issues in Yoga Therapy practice

Session 4: Advanced Topics in Yoga Therapy

  • Skill refinement: musculo-skeletal, physiological and emotional health interventions
  • Yoga Therapy: interpersonal, clinical and environmental challenges
  • Assessment and application of Yoga Therapy tools for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, reproductive health, relationship issues, aging and end-of-life
  • Defining your professional trajectory as a Yoga Therapist
  • Professional, business, ethical and legal issues in Yoga Therapy practice


The AVI® Viniyoga Therapist Training Program includes four sessions (three 10-day sessions; one 8-day session) during which you immerse yourself in the learning experience in a supportive yoga community of fellow students, teachers, and mentors.

Each session includes lectures, yoga practices focused on clinical application, case demonstrations, small group work, and guided independent study. Webinars and telephone conferences occur between training sessions.

Sessions are spaced approximately 6 months apart to allow time for integration of the material through personal practice, home study assignments, telephone calls with mentors, conference calls with faculty, and work with Yoga Therapy clients.


Mentoring and consultation are important aspects of the development of the Viniyoga Therapist. Each student has an experienced Viniyoga Therapist faculty mentor to guide their development in personal practice and Viniyoga Therapy skills. Mentoring includes on-site assessment of the student’s progress in core content and clinical skills development, review of written case studies and consultation at each session, telephone meetings in between sessions and case study teleconferences with Gary Kraftsow and faculty. More extensive individual mentoring is available between sessions and on an ongoing basis after certification for a fee.


There are pre-training assignments and a resource list to guide your preparation for the training. If you are planning to register for the training, please contact our Student Advisor for a copy of the pre-training home study and resource list.

Participants in the Viniyoga Clinical Applications program complete approximately 900 hours of study. This calculation includes:

  • 320 hours residential hours in the AVI Viniyoga Foundations Program for Teaching and Yoga Therapy
  • 370 hours in a combination of residential and distance learning during the Viniyoga Clinical Applications portion of the program
  • 150 clinical practicum hours working as the lead Yoga Therapist with clients or therapeutic groups in your local community
  • 55 hours of documentation and mentoring in the clinical practicum

Completion of the following is required for AVI® Yoga Therapist Certification:

  • 50 hours of anatomy study prior to Session 1 (Yoga Anatomy Online Course by Leslie Kaminoff or equivalent) and an additional 25 hours of physiology study between Courses 5 and 6 (self-paced with study guide).
  • Full attendance at the four training sessions.
  • Pre-training home study and independent study assigned  at Sessions 1, 2, and 3. Completed work is due at the next training session. Independent study assignments include case studies, guided reading and brief essays.
  • Meeting with mentor at each program session and completion of six total telephone mentoring calls that occur between program sessions.
  • 150 hours Yoga Therapy practicum delivery (documented work with individual clients or Yoga Therapy groups) and 55 hours of practicum documentation and mentorship hours for a total of 205 hours for clinical practicum.  These hours may include final project work.
  • Final project consisting of the design and implementation of a 6-8 session group program with a therapeutic focus or an in-depth analysis of work with three individual clients (at least four sessions) with a similar therapeutic issue.
  • Successful completion of three exams and/or clinical skills practicum assessments.  Clinical practicums are evaluated on a pass/needs remediation/fail basis.  Students will be given at least two opportunities to remediate any “fail” grade.  Any core content exams must be completed at 75% proficiency.  If a student does not complete the exam at 75% proficiency, a remediation strategy tailored to the individual student will be developed and implemented.
  • Payment of all tuition, re-entry fees if applicable and late home-study review fees

Home study before the first session of the Viniyoga Therapist Training includes two parts:

  1. Individual Sessions with Students
    Prior to the first training session, you will work with three clients individually for at least four sessions each on with a focus on personal practice issues.
  2. Anatomy Study
    In keeping with emerging standards for Yoga Therapy Programs, we ask that you complete 50 hours of anatomy study with a focus on musculoskeletal anatomy before Session #1.
    Recommended Anatomy Study: Online Course with Leslie Kaminoff
    Learn more about the AVI and collaboration to offer Leslie Kaminoff’s On-line Yoga Anatomy Course at a discounted fee for AVI students.


Program sessions 1, 2 and 3 begin with an evening orientation followed by five training days, a day off and then five more training days. Each training day is full and includes 8 – 10 hours of lectures, practice, and small group experiences. A typical day begins with an early morning practice followed by breakfast, a three-hour morning session, a lunch break and a three-hour afternoon session and a 1- 2 hour early evening session. Program session 4 will begin with an evening orientation followed by eight training days.


Ancient Yoga Center, Austin, Texas
Our program is structured for availability and accessibility to students from all over the country in a residential retreat format. The residential format encourages an “unplugging” from your day-to-day activities to immerse in the teachings, create the space for your own personal transformation and enjoy the beautiful mountain retreat setting. There is time at meals and in the evening to connect with the faculty and the program assistants as well as to network with the other students who have a lot to share about their practice and teaching.
» Visit the Ancient Yoga Center site for more info.

2022 DATES

The Viniyoga Therapist Training will be held at the Ancient Yoga Center in Austin, Texas.

More information coming soon!


Tuition is paid by the session.  Early Bird discount is available up to three months prior to session start date.

  • Session 1: $3750 ($3500 early bird)
  • Session 2: $3750 ($3500 early bird)
  • Session 3: $3750 ($3500 early bird)
  • Session 4: $3050 ($2900 early bird)

CANCELLATION POLICY (for tuition with AVI)
If a student does not attend a training session, the tuition payment is returned minus a $250 fee. If a student downloads the student manual, but does not attend a training session, the tuition payment is returned minus a $1,250 fee. No tuition refund is provided for students who leave the training before the session is completed. Students who leave the training for health or personal reasons before a session is completed may attend missed days free of charge the next time the program session is offered.

If a student cancels their housing, the student payment is returned minus a $75 fee. If a commuter cancels, and the payment is returned minus a $35 fee.

In you are interested in a payment plan for tuition, please contact

Room and Board is dependent on the type of lodging reserved. Lodging fees vary based upon room selection:  $1090-$1730. Commuter fees and meals:  $700.

Learn more about Ancient Yoga Center.


Gary Kraftsow

Founder & Director

Gary is the Founder, Director, and Senior Teacher of the American Viniyoga Institute.

Julie Shaw

Yoga Therapy Faculty

Julie is the Training Coordinator for AVI's Viniyoga Clinical Applications Program.

Margy Smariga

Yoga Therapy Faculty

Margy is faculty for the Viniyoga Therapist training.

Kenneth Tom

Yoga Therapy Faculty

Ken is faculty for the Viniyoga Clinical Applications Training.

Frequently Asked Questions

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 Patañjali’s Yoga Sutra-s.

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?

Authentic Transmission

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 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 Unlocked, Yoga 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.

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

Learn More »

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

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.  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.

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 Patañjali and the Ayurvedic system, which in turn derive from Sankhya and the Upanishadic traditions of Vedic India.

The Venue

The Ancient Yoga Center, a beautiful, serene and inviting retreat center, just a short drive from Austin’s airport, is the setting for this deep inner experience and study of the inner practices of yoga. This center for spiritual nourishment is the ideal location to support you in this inner work and renewal as a practitioner, yoga teacher and Yoga Therapist.   We have been invited to enjoy the beautiful landscaped gardens, find quiet places for personal retreat, walk the grounds (200 acres), enjoy nutritious vegetarian cuisine and enjoy saṅga in communal areas.