Yoga Therapy is on the rise and for good reason. The practice differs from other types of therapy like massage or physiotherapy in that it centres around the patient taking control of their healing journey, empowering them to make positive changes in their lives.
Chelsea Lee, a Certified Yoga Therapist with the International Association of Yoga Therapy (IAYT), is one of only 350 certified Yoga Therapists in the world and among the first certified Yoga Therapists in Canada, having completed over 1,500 hours of teacher training and over 400 hours of professional experience. It is the highest level of qualification achievable in Yoga Therapy.
Chelsea’s mother, a physiotherapist, is a great source of inspiration to her and encouraged Chelsea to pursue a career in Yoga Therapy having taught yoga classes for a number of years. “My yoga students were coming to me with various injuries, and I wanted to be able to offer them a way to heal, rather than simply modifying postures to work around their injuries. I was craving more knowledge,” Chelsea said.
“I didn’t even know if Yoga Therapy was an option until I did some research! My mom has always been a mentor and seeing her journey as a physio made me really interested in the therapeutic aspect of Yoga.”
18 months after enrolling at Pacific Rim College, Chelsea graduated with a Diploma of Yoga Therapy, setting her on the path that enables her to fulfil her passion.
“I want to help people get back to doing the things they love to do; playing with their kids, getting a good night’s sleep or getting back running again. It’s so rewarding to empower people to improve their quality of life.”
Chelsea is the program director for the 300 hour Foundations of Yoga Therapy Program at the Vancouver School of Healing Arts. The program is designed for yoga instructors that are passionate about taking the skills and techniques of yoga and learning how to offer them on an individual therapeutic basis.
“It’s not just about saying ‘if you have anxiety, perform this breathing technique’,” said Chelsea. “You learn how to look at the full story that the person is coming forward with and offer a very precise treatment plan that suits their physical body, cognitive beliefs, emotional state, and spiritual beliefs. Students doing this program might already have a general idea of what works with yoga, but this program takes your understanding to a whole new level.”
While Chelsea is the lead instructor, the faculty includes eight other highly skilled and experienced instructors, each bringing knowledge and expertise in Philosophy, Ayurveda, Anatomy, Physiology, Pathophysiology, Yoga for Mental Health, and Business.
Chelsea says one part of the program she is especially thrilled about is that students will graduate with over 20 hours of practical experience working one-on-one with clients through the student clinic, which is open to the general public.
“Working with people who don’t necessarily know a lot about yoga is often more challenging. The idea is that our students will graduate with lots of hands-on experience, feeling confident in applying the skills they have learned.”
Chelsea will be teaching the Foundations of Yoga Therapy program from October 17, 2016 – January 11, 2017. Students will graduate as therapeutic yoga teachers and can apply the hours from the program towards their 1,000 hours of training necessary to become certified yoga therapists.
“Our school is a teaching college, not a yoga studio.” Chelsea said. We’re here to help students cultivate the skills necessary to be highly trained yoga instructors, therapeutic yoga teachers and eventually yoga therapists.”