A look at the curriculum for a graduate course in yoga studies

A few weeks back we mentioned that Loyola Marymont University here in Los Angeles was celebrating the start of what it claims (although it may be a stretch) to be the first-ever graduate course in yoga studies.

Just what might that entail, you might have asked. It suddenly occurred to me, too. So here’s the rundown of the curriculum:

Summer 2013 or priorEach student must demonstrate successful completion of one of the following LMU Yoga Studies Extension Certificates: Yoga Philosophy, Vinyasa Krama Teacher Training, Yoga Therapy Rx, or Yoga and the Healing Sciences.

Another option will be allowed, upon review, to transfer six post-graduate credits from another institution in an area related to Yoga Studies.

Fall 2013:  Six semester hours plus introductory language study as needed.

YGST 610 Health Science and Yoga:  An overview of anatomy and physiology from the Western perspective and Ayurvedic theories of the subtle body, health and wholeness.

YGST 615 Foundations of Yoga Studies:  This course will investigate basic methodological approaches to the academic study of Yoga, with an emphasis on the place of Yoga within theological discourse.  It will include a bibliographic survey of primary and secondary sources and engagement with key select resources.  Sikh and Christian approaches to Yoga will be included.

Introduction to Sanskrit: This requirement may be completed before admission to the program or by enrollment via audit in ARCH 205: Beginning and Intermediate Sanskrit.  This course provides the student a foundational understanding of Sanskrit writing and grammar.

Spring 2014: Nine semester hours

YGST 630 Hatha Yoga Texts:  This course in movement and breathing (Āsana and Prāṇāyāma) will draw from classical texts such as the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā, the Gherhaṇḍa Saṃhitā, and the Yoga Śāstra with particular attention to practice applications. Requires demonstration of student teaching skills.

YGST 620 Yoga Philosophy: Text and Practice:  A close study and discussion of the Yoga Sūtra of Patanjali, The Bhagavad Gītā, select Upanishads, the Sāṃkhya Kārikā, the Yogavāsiṣṭha, and other classical literature.

YGST 626 Sanskrit: The Bhagavad Gītā: The Bhagavad Gītā sets forth the primary practices of philosophical and meditational Yoga, including the ways of Knowledge, Action, and Devotion.  We will read select passages, completing the study of various aspects of Sanskrit grammar.

Summer 2014:  Six semester hours 

YGST 641 Jaina Yoga: This course will study the Jain traditions of Yoga including Preksha meditation and its emphasis on nonviolence. This course will also immerse the students in Jainism through philosophy, ethics, cosmology, and art.  Travel to India is included. NOTE: This is generously subsidized by the International School for Jain Studies which will pay airfare, living expenses, and a stipend.

YGST 640 Buddhism and Yoga: Yoga’s relationship with Buddhism will be explored with an emphasis on Vipassana, Tibetan Buddhism and Zen.

Fall 2014: Nine semester hours

YGST 650 History of Modern Yoga: Yoga entered European and North American consciousness through the Romantic poets, the New England Transcendentalists, and the world lecture tour of Swami Vivekananda following the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1893.  In the 20th century, Paramahamsa Yogananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Sivananda, Swami Krishnamacharya and many others introduced large groups of people to the principles and practices of Yoga. The course will explore this legacy.  Students will be required to demonstrate teaching ability from select traditions.

YGST 682 Comparative Mysticism:  In this course, Christian mysticism as found in the writings of Teresa of Avila and Meister Eckhart is compared and contrasted with the interior traditions of India and East Asia including Sāṃkhya, Yoga, Taoism and Yogācāra Buddhism.

YGST 625 Sanskrit: The Yoga Sūtra: In this course students will translate the sutras and commentary from Patanjali’s seminal text, the Yoga Sūtra.

Spring 2015: Six semester hours

YGST 695 Comprehensive Exam Seminar:  In this course students will be taught study tactics and will work together in preparation for two comprehensive exams.  The first question will demand a demonstration of the breadth of knowledge they have learned while the second question will focus more specifically on an area of particular interest to the student within Yoga Studies.

YGST 696 Writing and Research Seminar: This course will guide the students as they write their final thesis.  The course will aid them through the process by introducing research methods and writing techniques in order to complete a clear final thesis or research project.  Students will be able to help one another as different phases of their given projects will be shared in class.

Here are some things that jump out at me:

  • The Christian approach to yoga, given the Jois-related lawsuit. But this isn’t a major surprise because LMU is a Catholic school.
  • Subsidized trip to India!
  • The requirement that students demonstrate teaching ability from different yoga traditions. I wonder how much of the focus throughout is on yoga teachers — as opposed to people just wanting to study. (Given our Ashtanga focus, the distinction between teacher and student is of particular interest. How much does one inform the other? Does one have to teach for all to be coming?)
  • Seems to be a lack of mention of Bhakti yoga (kirtan, despite there being a ton of kirtan/Bhakti yoga in the ara) and the Tantric tradition.

Anything else jump out at you? Anything important missing? How does it compare to “teacher trainings” with which you are familiar?

Posted by Steve

Loyola Marymount celebrates its first-ever M.A. in yoga studies program

Loyola Marymount University, here in Los Angeles, touts its master of arts program in yoga studies as a first of its kind. Yes, there are many extension courses (which is how LMU’s started) and a variety of 100-hour, 200-hour and 500-hour teacher training courses. But LMU says its graduate-level program, which is beginning this fall, is the first at that level.

Here’s how LMU describes this program:

The Master of Arts in Yoga Studies at Loyola Marymount University provides the study of the Yoga tradition from multiple perspectives.  The graduate program is designed to help students explore the Yoga tradition through various critical methodologies. The program meets the needs of Yoga students and teachers who are seeking to enhance their knowledge of the Yoga tradition in both theory and practice.

The M.A. in Yoga Studies curriculum includes courses on the history and philosophy of Yoga, its primary classical textual resources and language, its health benefits, and its relation to religion and spirituality.  Students learn various forms of Yoga practice, both ancient and modern, its place within world spirituality, and the techniques utilized for the teaching of Yoga.

All day Saturday, LMU will be holding a celebration for the program’s kick-off. It runs from noon to 9:30. Info here. It includes, of course, yoga and meditation classes, as well as the U.S. premiere of a movie, History of Yoga, apparently the first movie on the topic made in India, and a handful of other discussions.

I suppose if  you’re around LA and have a free day…

Posted by Steve