Masters of Arts in Yoga Studies - Residential

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.

Residential Track

Pile of yoga mats outside chapel

The Residential Master of Arts in Yoga Studies program is a 2 year program. It provides the study of the Yoga tradition from multiple perspectives. Courses are formatted 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.

Each fall semester a new class will be welcomed as a cohort. The cohort will continue through the spring, summer, and fall conclude in the following spring. Fall 2020 will welcome our eighth cohort!

Explore the residential study track curriculum and certificate requirement below:

  • The total time to complete the residential M.A. in Yoga Studies track is 21 months 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.

    Fall 1 | Nine semester hours (plus introductory language study as needed)

    • YGST 6015 Foundations of Yoga Studies (In person Intensive Mid to late August)

              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.

    • YGST 6010 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 6005  Sanskrit I:

              This course provides the student with a foundational understanding of Sanskrit writing and grammar.

    Spring 1 | Nine semester hours

    • YGST 6020 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 6026  Sanskrit II:

              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.

    • YGST 6030 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.

    Summer | Six semester hours

    • YGST 6040 Buddhism and Yoga:

              Yoga's relationship with Buddhism will be explored with an emphasis on Vipassana, Tibetan Buddhism and Zen. *Offered summer session 1*

    • YGST 6041 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. *Offered summer session 2*

    Fall 2 | Nine semester hours

    • YGST 6025  Sanskrit III:

              In this course students will translate the sutras and commentary from Patanjali's seminal text, the Yoga Sūtra.

    • YGST 6055 Modern Yoga, Mindfulness, Social Change

             Yoga entered European and North American consciousness following Swami Vivekananda’s lecture at 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. Buddhist meditation became popular in the mid-20th century through the work of Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzburg, and others. The course will explore this legacy and the effectiveness of these techniques in effecting Gandhian-inspired social change.


    • YGST 6082 Comparative Mysticism:

              In this class we will explore the inner or mystical life as articulated in the life and practice of various religious traditions. We will begin with a study of a modern classic: The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James, the pre-eminent American philosopher and psychologist as well as the key ideas of Carl Jung. We will then examine the Jewish and Islamic mystical traditions, as well as key writers in the emerging field of contemplative Christian ecology. Yoga and mysticism will be examined through the writings of 20th-century philosopher Sri Aurobindo.

    Spring 2 | Three semester hours

    • YGST 6096 Writing and Research Seminar YGST 6096:

              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.

    *Students may take Yoga Therapy concentration courses in lieu of (2) elective courses: Sanskrit III AND Comparative Mysticism OR Modern Yoga, Mindfulness, Social Change.

  • 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.

  • Often beginning students wish to study Sanskrit in advance, or in addition, to LMU courses for additional preparation


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 gain knowledge of the Sanskrit language and the history and philosophy of Yoga traditions.

  2. Graduates will understand the human physiological experience from Western and Yogic perspectives.

  3. Graduates will understand the effects of Yoga practices on the human body.

  4. Graduates will gain and apply knowledge of the spiritual and ethical dimensions of Yoga.

  5. Graduates will understand modern Yoga in the context of historical and sociological developments.

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

  7. Graduates who pursue the Yoga Therapy option will demonstrate competency in designing and implementing safe evidence-based therapeutic Yoga practices for individuals and groups with a variety of health conditions.


Graduate Yoga Studies students will enter each summer or fall as a cohort and take all classes with each other. 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.