How to Get a Yoga Studies Degree
Published on July 9, 2020
- A yoga studies degree can emphasize your commitment to the practice and field.
- Most yoga therapy degrees are offered by private, for-profit schools.
- Only a handful of yoga studies degree programs are available in the U.S.
- With a yoga degree, you can work as a yoga teacher and in the nonprofit sector.
Majoring in yoga might sound like it's part of some newfangled trend, but schools are in fact the traditional home for yoga. The physical forms of yoga widely practiced in the U.S. — including Hatha yoga and Ashtanga yoga — trace their origins to India.
A physical and philosophical practice, yoga is passed down by gurus and pays special homage to the importance of diligent study. A growing number of academic programs in yoga studies allow students to pursue that same serious scholarship yoga gurus have valued for millennia.
Bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and certificates in yoga therapy bring together yoga scholarship and the physical practice of yoga.
Bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and certificates in yoga therapy bring together yoga scholarship and the physical practice of yoga, both on campus and online. The majority of yoga degrees are granted by private, for-profit schools, such as schools of naturopathic medicine.
These days, yoga is increasingly recognized by the medical community for more than its fitness benefits. According to the National Institutes of Health, 86% of American adults who practice yoga claim it reduces stress, while 67% say it helps them feel better emotionally. More Western doctors are also prescribing yoga as therapy.
Globally, yoga is beginning to earn more respect from the academic world, as it gains popularity and becomes more competitive for teachers. While a degree in yoga studies carries more weight than a yoga-teaching certificate, any investment in a yoga education can help accelerate career growth in the booming $4.5 trillion wellness industry.
Yoga Degrees Emphasize Depth and Practice
Yoga Alliance certificates are required to teach in most yoga studios across North America. When fields expand and professionalize, a degree can allow dedicated students to differentiate themselves by highlighting their commitment.
Yoga actively celebrates serious study: Svadhyaya (self-study and the study of yoga texts) is one of yoga's moral foundations. Pursuing yoga scholarship aligns with traditional yoga teachings and allows serious practitioners to engage with the entire cultural context of yoga, rather than appropriating just portions of it.
In a yoga studies bachelor’s or master’s degree program, students spend whole semesters studying specialized yoga topics, such as meditation and Sanskrit.
While some of yoga's larger ideas shine through in yoga classes, many Western students remain unaware of the practice's depth. Yoga teacher training courses often include some yoga history and philosophy, but these topics must fit around anatomy and hands-on training.
Many yoga teacher training programs have limited time frames. Most yoga teachers get started with a 200-hour training program, which lasts about 10-12 weekends.
By contrast, bachelor's and master's degrees in yoga studies can take two or more years. Students spend a whole semester — typically 15 weeks — studying individual yoga topics, such as meditation and Sanskrit.
Yoga Bachelor's Degree Programs
A bachelor's degree program in yoga studies rewards students with two credentials: a diploma and an advanced Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) certificate.
Currently, just two accredited colleges offer a bachelor's degree in yoga studies:
At this Buddhist-founded college in Colorado, you can earn a BA in yoga studies or pursue a minor in yoga studies.
Affiliated with the Native American Indigenous Church, this Florida-based school offers a bachelor of applied sacred science in yoga therapy.
Yoga Master's Degree Programs
For bachelor's degree-holders, a master's degree in yoga studies can offer greater specialization and research opportunity.
Compared with undergraduate yoga programs, there's a much bigger array of master's degree programs in yoga, many of which can be completed in person or online.
At this school, you can participate in the full-time, low-residency MA in mindfulness studies program with an interdisciplinary focus.
LMU was the first school to offer an MA in yogic studies. Today, the graduate program can be taken in either a residential, two-year format or a low-residency, three-year format.
This institution designed its master's degree in yoga therapy for working professionals who have already completed a 200-hour RYT. The hybrid course meets on weekends.
The master's in yoga studies is a low-residency, three-year program that includes two campus retreats in Boulder, Colorado.
What Are the Benefits of a Yoga Degree?
Earning a degree in yoga can prepare you for impactful yoga teaching, studio leadership, and nonprofit work. Graduates of LMU's yoga therapy degree program, for example, have brought yoga to prisons, taught at hospitals and transitional living homes, developed yoga curricula for community colleges, and created stress-management programs for social workers.
The inherent risks of yoga when practiced incorrectly or in a hot room require that studios hire qualified teachers to keep classes safe. Extra credentials indicate not only seriousness and the desire to learn but also a deep appreciation for the full practice of yoga.