Every true invention garners the same response: I can’t believe that doesn’t exist already—how is that possible? This just happened to yoga.
While we think we’ve seen everything when it comes to yoga; what the West has not yet seen is an accredited academic program devoted to Yoga studies. Not a teacher training nor certification, but a degree. Before now a person in the US could earn degrees in related subjects such as Comparative Religion, Hindu or Sanskrit studies, or even Exercise Physiology. To date, there has been no Master’s Degree in Yoga Studies available outside of India.
“Why hasn’t it been done?” Good question! Attaining approval at an academic institution is complicated and takes at least 10 years. In this case, it took 15.
Dr. Christopher Key Chapple had the vision for a program like this in his youth. In 1985, he began teaching at Loyola Marymount University; in 1998, he created an extension program focusing on Yoga studies which grew to include two certification programs: Yoga Philosophy and, collaborating with Larry Payne, Yoga Therapeutics.
Siddhis is the Sanskrit word for spiritual powers. It took nothing less than Siddhis for Professor Chapple to jump through every hoop and maintain true vision. Professor Chapple diligently worked with the University — filing applications, appealing to the administration, and raising funds. In 2012, he received approval from the university, began the student application process, and unveiled a comprehensive curriculum with courses in science, history, Eastern religions, Sanskrit, and comparative philosophy.
September, 2013, nineteen adventurous students of all ages and backgrounds matriculated in the inaugural Master’s degree in Yoga Studies. While this is the first, it will certainly not be the last. With Professor Chapple’s commitment for excellence, we can predict this program will be so successful that, like all inventions, we will wonder how we lived without it.
For more information visit: http://bellarmine.lmu.edu/yoga/
Sara Ivanhoe MA has been teaching yoga since 1995. Sara is a graduate of the MA program in Yoga Studies at Loyola Marymount University, where she now teaches. She serves as the faculty advisor for YogaGlo.