Loyola Marymount University offers the first Master of Arts in Yoga Studies in America. Yoga is regularly practiced by an estimated 36.7 million Americans, but often physical practices are emphasized. The MA in Yoga Studies program works to explore a full picture of the tradition from practice to text to theory. Graduate students engage in deep study of Yoga philosophy and history, Sanskrit, elements of physical practice, comparative spirituality, study in India.

The program produces knowledgeable leaders in the field of Yoga. Post-graduation, our students have gone on to further study in related Ph.D. programs, have begun teaching Yoga in undergraduate institutions, opened centers and studios, found leadership work in Yoga media companies, and work to train other teachers in Yoga.

Low-Residency Track

The low-residency Master of Arts in Yoga Studies track is a 3-year program with global accessibility, ideal for students residing outside of Los Angeles and the surrounding area. It provides the study of the Yoga tradition from multiple perspectives. The hybrid format offers students the opportunity to deeply engage with Yoga through various critical methodologies without having to relocate their lives. 15% of the program takes place on the LMU campus, 7% in India, and 78% via distance education. The distance courses are formatted to allow for in-depth engagement and discussion. The group experience in India allows for opportunities to integrate the in-class material. The program meets the needs of Yoga students and teachers alike who are seeking to enhance their knowledge of the tradition in both theory and practice.

Explore the Low-Residency study track curriculum and certificate requirement below:

  • The total time to complete the residential M.A. in Yoga Studies track is 2.5 years and amounts to 36 graduate level credits. In addition to the following curriculum, all students must complete a certificate program as a pre/co-requisite to graduation. 

    *Unless otherwise indicated, these courses will take place online*

    Fall 1 

    Foundations of Yoga Studies: Basic methodological approaches to the academic study of Yoga, with an emphasis on the place of Yoga within theological discourse. *This course takes place on the LMU Campus in August* 

    Health Science and Yoga (YGST 6010): An overview of anatomy and physiology from the Western perspective and Ayurvedic theories of the subtle body, health, and wholeness

    Introduction to Sanskrit (YGST 6005): This course provides the student with a foundational understanding of Sanskrit writing and grammar. This course is offered through LMU Extension.

    Spring 1

    Yoga Philosophy: Text and Practice (YGST 6020): 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.

    Sanskrit: The Bhagavad Gītā (YGST 6026): The Bhagavad Gītā sets forth the primary practices of philosophical and meditation Yoga, including the ways of Knowledge, Action, and Devotion.  We will read select passages, completing the study of various aspects of Sanskrit grammar.  

    Summer 2

    Buddhism and Yoga (YGST 6040): Yoga’s relationship with Buddhism will be explored with an emphasis on Vipassana, Tibetan Buddhism and Zen.

    Jaina Yoga (YGST 6041): 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. *This course takes place in India*

    Fall 2

    Sanskrit: The Yoga Sūtra (YGST 6025): In this course students will translate the sutras and commentary from Patanjali’s seminal text, the Yoga Sūtra.

    Comparative Mysticism (YGST 6082): This course will explore the inner or mystical life as articulated in various religious traditions. We will engage with studies of modern classics by William James and Carl Jung and then focus on the various mystical traditions and the emerging field of contemplative Christian ecology. 

    Spring 2

    Hatha Yoga Texts (YGST 6030): This course in movement and breathing will draw from classical texts such as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Requires demonstration of student teaching skills.

    History of Modern Yoga (YGST 6050): This course will explore the historical introduction of core principles and practices of Yoga into Europe and North America through the legacy of modern masters. Students will be required to demonstrate teaching ability from select traditions

    Summer 3

    Comprehensive Exam Seminar: In this course students will work together in preparation for a comprehensive exam, which will be created by the students in tandem with Graduate Yoga Studies faculty. *This course takes place on the LMU campus*

    Fall 3

    Writing and Research Seminar: This course will aid the students through the process of writing their final thesis by introducing research methods and writing techniques in order to complete a clear final thesis. Students will be able to help one another, as different phases of their given projects will be shared in class. 
  • Each student in the Masters of Arts in Yoga Studies program must successfully complete one of the LMU Yoga Studies Extension Certificates as a pre/co-requisite to their MA program cirriculum. The Yoga Studies Extension certificate programs are offered through LMU Center for Religion and Spirituality. Please view the Certificate Programs for more information on various residential and remote options.


Yoga's origins date back at least two thousand years to the Indian subcontinent. It has been linked with practices of meditation in Buddhism, ethics in Jainism, and movement and breathing in medieval Hindu spiritual practices. The traditions and practices of Yoga have been embraced by Muslims (particularly in India) and Sikhs, and, for more than a century, by many Jews and Christians. The health benefits of Yoga have been well-documented.

Cambridge University scholar, Elizabeth de Michelis, has written that Yoga offers "some solace, physical, psychological, or spiritual, in a world where solace and reassurance are sometimes elusive." This formal course of study in Yoga advances the mission of Loyola Marymount University, particularly the commitment to learning, and the education of the whole person.


  1. Graduates will be able to use their knowledge of the language, history, and philosophy of the Yoga tradition in their analysis of key Yoga texts.

  2. Graduates will be able to apply their knowledge of human physiology, in the western and Asian traditions, in the practices of Yoga.

  3. Graduates will be able to use their knowledge of the spiritual and ethical dimensions of Yoga in their analysis of key Yoga texts.

  4. Graduates will be able to add new levels of depth to Yoga classes they teach.

  5. Graduates will be able to design a program to train teachers of Yoga.

  6. Students will demonstrate effective research, evaluation, and writing skills on focused topics in Yoga.


Graduate Yoga Studies students will enter each summer or fall as a cohort and take all classes with each other both residentially and remotely. This format allows for support and connection as students progress towards their degree. 


Each MA student is required to take one certificate through LMU extension as a pre/co-requisite to their MA program. Offered through LMU extension, the University provides a selection of certificates in Yoga studies Extension which are open to the public. Topics range from Yoga Therapy to YogaEd/Yoga in Schools to Yoga, Mindfulness Social Change and Philosophy courses. Each summer master teacher Ramaswami visits campus to teach in the Krishnamacharya tradition, and twice a year the university offers 200 hour teacher trainings called Yoga and the Healing Sciences. Please view the Certificates page for more information.