Ashley McKeachie '17
Q. What made you decide to pursue an MA in Yoga Studies?
My goal from the beginning was to be able to teach in a Yoga program full-time at the community college level. I knew that I needed a Masters in order to be considered for employment, and the LMU Yoga Studies program completely fulfilled my needs.
Q. What certificate did you pursue in conjunction with the MA, and how did those two programs speak to each other?
Before LMU implemented the Masters program, I was actively pursuing my yoga therapy certification at LMU from 2011-2014. I had heard about the various yoga programs offered at LMU and I knew that this college would give me the knowledge and credibility to attain my goals. I completed all four levels of the LMU Yoga Therapy program and started working as a full-time yoga therapist in February 2015. The education and certification I received in the LMU Yoga Therapy program allowed me to secure an interview with Orange Coast College (OCC), and consequently, a part-time position teaching yoga in the Kinesiology and Athletics department. My training at LMU as a yoga therapist has helped me tremendously in teaching all abilities at OCC, where I can provide the yoga tools and techniques that reduce the symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. My thesis in the Masters program was developing and implementing a teacher training at Orange Coast College, and with the knowledge I gained in my Master's classes and my yoga therapy experience, I created a certificate that focused on using yoga to enhance the quality of life.
Q. What was your favorite course, and what was it like?
My favorite class was "Hatha Yoga Texts." Since Hatha Yoga is the umbrella term used for most classes in the country, it was fascinating to read 15th century texts that explained what Hatha Yoga meant 500 years ago. In this class, we read the Hatha Yoga Pradipika which explained the various body, breath, and mind preparations to achieve a state of yoga. The text was written in Sanskrit with English translations, and I found myself naturally transcribing each Sanskrit sentence which enriched my overall experience. Our cohort also practiced each of the postures and breathing practices together that were noted in the ancient text. Some of the directions translated easily over the centuries, and others, we couldn't help but laugh hysterically, when we tried to "Inhale like a female bee, and exhale like a male bee." Dr. Funes created an atmosphere of support and encouragement, as she led the class through a deeper understanding of Hatha Yoga.
Q. What surprised you most about the MA in Yoga Studies?
I was mostly surprised by the amount of reading, homework, assignments, and presentations we were expected to complete. This is a serious program that will weed out students that aren't serious about this scholarly path. It will take time to read and engage, and I recommend clearing your calendar for 22 months, so you can receive the most out of this Masters program.
Q. Tell us a little about your thesis project, and how that came about.
I explained a little above, but I have always really loved teaching and mentoring the 18-25 year old student. They are in a delicate time in their life and are searching for confidence, approval, and finding their place in the world. Community college students experience high rates of anxiety and depression, and I wanted to offer them yogic tools that could help them feel more connected to themselves and the people around them. By creating an affordable teacher training program that costs 10% of most trainings, I could teach these students how to alleviate the symptoms associated with anxiety and depression, and give them a skill that could earn money and give them the experience needed to become a positive influence in their community.
Q. What are your plans post-graduation?
I begin teaching the OCC Yoga Teacher Training program in the fall. The dean of Kinesiology and Athletics has been incredibly supportive, and I am sure it will be a success. I am currently working on the manual for the program, and visualizing my full-time yoga tenor track position at OCC!