These days every tenth person seems to have done their yoga teacher training. Now one university in Los Angeles has upped the anti by creating a masters degree in one of India’s most famous export.
Around 36 million Americans reportedly practice yoga on a weekly basis, and that number is set to increase—some of the USA’s small town communities are getting their own modest studio spaces, too.
When most of these people think “yoga,” they think of the physical poses and postures known as asana—just one pillar or “limb” (there are eight in total) of an 5000-year-old practice. There’s a lot of historical ground to cover when it comes to yoga, but why sign up for a masters in yogic studies as opposed to a 200 or 300-hour yoga teacher training?
Students at Loyola Marymount University will go deep into the philosophy of yoga, which has ties to Hinduism—one reason the course attracts people with undergraduate degrees in religion. To study the primary texts of the spiritual system— the “Yoga Sutras,” the “Upanishads,” the “Bhagavad Gita”—they will learn the ancient language of Sanskrit (if you’re a regular at yoga class you’ll have heard the Sanskrit names for some of the poses). In other words, the course is designed for serious scholars, and won’t involve much mat time.
“I’m personally surprised there aren’t more graduate programs in the study of yoga, given that we’re talking about a transnational phenomenon,” Andrea Jain, co-chair of the Yoga in Theory and Practice unit of the American Academy of Religion, told the LA Times. “It doesn’t occur to us as scholars to tap into that cultural trend and demand.”
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