If you've been wanting to further your yogic studies beyond Om-schooling, you’re in luck, because schools around the country are starting to offer academic programs and curriculums designed for those who would like to take their education beyond the mat.
“We've trained teachers, nurses, parent educators, mindfulness teachers, and others,” says Melissa Jean, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Mindfulness Studies at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Want to learn Sanskrit, dive deep into yogic history and philosophy, or study abroad in India? Learn to teach mindfulness, become a yoga therapist, or design corporate wellness programs? Here are four programs that will inspire you to go back to school.
Loyola Marymount University: Master of Arts in Yogic Studies
This program, located in Los Angeles, California, offers a Master of Arts in Yogic Studies—the first graduate degree of its kind. It features two tracks: a two-year residential model, and a low-residency hybrid, where students complete approximately 15 percent of their studies on campus and the rest online. The low-residency program is pending approval for Fall 2018, and takes place over the course of two and a half years. Both programs feature a study abroad segment in India. The school also offers a Certificate in Yogic Studies, for those who do not wish to pursue a Master of Arts degree.
Who it’s for: Those who want a fully-tailored curriculum to delve into yogic philosophy and practice. Classes include Health Science and Yoga, Comparative Mysticism, and Sanskrit Language.
Lesley University: Master of Arts in Mindfulness Studies
This low-residency graduate program takes place over the course of two years, and goes beyond what’s typically offered in a yoga class. “Students are supported as they develop their personal mindfulness practice, and develop their thinking on how mindfulness can be applied to their own fields of interest and endeavors,” Dr. Jean says. Students can explore topics like Buddhist tradition, contemplative neuroscience, and partake in a mindfulness internship and on-campus summer residency. While yoga is not part of the degree curriculum, the program does feature Qi Gong, and yoga is offered on campus.
Who it’s for: Those interested in the more general aspect of a mindful practice, and/or those interested in bringing mindfulness into any career.
Naropa University: Bachelor of Arts in Yogic Studies
This Boulder, Colorado, school offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Yoga Studies, along with a teacher training students can obtain on campus. Classes include Psychology of the Chakras and Experiential Anatomy, along with more classic yoga classes like Yoga 1: Foundations, and Yoga 3: Integral Practice.
Students can also minor in Yoga Studies. The degree also features a teacher training certificate along with a senior retreat. Students pursuing other topics of interest at the university can also partake in the school’s yoga teacher training program.
Who it’s for: Undergrad students seeking a solid core foundation and deep knowledge of yogic practices.
Maryland University of Integrative Health: Master of Science in Yoga Therapy
This graduate program offers a foundational experience in yoga therapy, as well as a deep dive into understanding the body’s systems from a holistic, integrative perspective. Classes take place over the course of nine weekends on campus in Laurel, Maryland, and include subjects like Mind/Body Science and Professional Practices for Yoga Therapy Practitioners.
Who it’s for: Working professionals seeking a straightforward degree program to practice yoga therapy.
If you don’t wish to pursue a full-blown academic degree in yoga, several technical and community colleges now offer teacher training programs on campus. The University of New Mexico, Taos, for example, offers a RYT-200 teacher training, allowing students to study to teach yoga while paying reduced in-state tuition. Time to hit the mat ... and the books!