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IAYT Yoga Therapy Today Magazine Feature: Inside SMC Therapist Training Program

Published in the Winter, 2024 edition of IAYT Yoga Therapy Today Magazine

Integrating yoga into real life is the goal of The Stress Management Center of Marin (SMC) Yoga Therapist Training Program. We began training therapists in 2012, when most of our faculty sat on the board of directors or were teaching for the following schools: American Viniyoga Institute, American Yoga College, Integral Yoga Institute, Ananda Yoga, and Master Yoga Academy, which later became Svaroopa School. Our program foundation is built on a composite of these lineages: Krishnamacharya, Sachidananda, Paramahamsa Yogananda, and Muktananda.

We include these lineages and school viewpoints to provide practices that bring clients into balance, whether they are managing physical or emotional injuries, struggling with stress from work or personal life, excelling at sports, or maintaining their quality of life. SMC Faculty believe yoga therapy is not just about the technical skills. Although we teach those, we view the important as learning to offer practical, relatable, and repeatable practices that help people live to their fullest potential. Our yoga therapists are trained to recognize the needs of an individual and

frame up options in an understandable way to help them regain the balance of a grounded nervous system and a focused mind.

SMC program director Robin Gueth and Colin Silverthorne, PhD, joined with others including Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, PhD, to conduct research in partnership with the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the University of San Fransisco Department of Psychology that demonstrated the efficacy of our pedagogy. First published in the

International Journal of Yoga Therapy in 2012, these studies form a basis for our research literacy course. This course teaches students how to conduct legitimate, industry-recognized research on a budget.

SMC’s curriculum was developed from all of this experience, through which we have learned to view clients through a variety of lenses. We divided these into teaching elements that we call the “Six Lenses of a Yoga Therapist TM ”:

  1. Empowerment: Clients must believe change is possible.

  2. Alignment: Understanding physical alignment and its effect on the whole system.

  3. Ayurveda: Using Ayurveda to assess the constitution of and imbalances in our clients and ourselves.

  4. Philosophy: Using Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras as a map of the mind for ourselves and clients.

  5. Therapeutics: Tools and knowledge covering health from heart disease to back pain.

  6. Restoratives: Understanding the powers at play in a client's life to provide tools that will help them find balance and enjoy their practice.

The course is divided into two levels. Level 1 is also a Yoga Alliance-registered 300 hour course. Its focus is on students applying the tools to themselves, as authentic knowledge must come from personal experience.

In Level 2, students are integrating what they discovered in their personal practice with clients under the support of a mentor. We also include a business course developed by MBAs, because a successful clinical practice needs both ancient wisdom and modern business acumen. We want to. be sure that our graduates can make a living doing what they love.

SMC has partnerships with a various healthcare organizations, including a long-standing relationship with Kaiser Permanente. Students may assist or shadow in many environments, for example:

  • hospital workshops for nurses with carpal tunnel syndrome,

  • hospital classes for chronic pain,

  • hospital-based public classes offering yoga therapy,

  • training doctors in stress management,

  • classes for Traumatic Brain Injury survivors,

  • classes for mental illness, including schizophrenia, and

  • training sports teams.

Students learn to navigate the role of patient advocate within their scope of practice and with compassion for all involved. SMC teaches how Western healthcare approaches common ailments, including how the most common pharmaceuticals work in the body. Students learn a basic understanding of physical therapy, the typical progression of disease, and healing trajectories for common injuries and surgeries.

The emphasis is on critical thinking rather than following specific sequences. Our Faculty prefers to teach ideas for students to practice and internalize, so they can then weigh which tools and practices are appropriate in each specific circumstance. This method builds a strong level of confidence in any environment.

Our goal is to help our students develop an understanding of who they are, build their skill set, and be able to run a sustainable business for the benefit of all. In addition to private clinical practices, we see SMC graduates working successfully in a variety of settings, including functional medicine practices, research at the Veterans Administration, and designing online sleep and meditation courses.

We stay in communication with graduates and support them with ongoing mentorship, connect them with other yoga professionals, and offer them work opportunities. Our motivation comes from community response to our training. SMC graduates have received glowing performance reports from the MDs who employ them, and the graduates themselves tell us that they use what we have taught them every day. At SMC, we aim to integrate yoga into real life.


Robin Gueth, C-IAYT is the founder, owner, and program director of The Stress Management Center of Marin. Her blend of down-to-earth wisdom, knowledge of anatomy and yogic practices, decades of global experience, professional connections, and warm spirit is the driving force behind SMC’s yoga therapy school.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Robin.

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IAYT Yoga Therapy Today JAN 2024 SMC Profile (1)
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