Aug 31, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

The World Health Organization recently reported that depression is the number one illness in the world, the leading cause of disability, and one of the most common health disorders.

One solution?  Yoga.  As practitioners and yogis already know, yoga can reduce depression, boost your immune system, help to recalibrate your nervous system, and helps people to relax.

 

Physically, it improves flexibility of the spine, joints, and muscles, but the “asanas”—or postures—ultimately help to ease the mind.

First practiced in India by religious ascetics up to 2,500 years ago, yoga was about stillness.  Its evolution has brought the modern flow that we see today.

In addition to yoga enhancing physical and spiritual well-being, what are the benefits of earning your master’s in it?  Let’s take a closer look at four reasons why you should consider a master’s degree in yoga.

1. It exists.

George Mallory (first mountaineer to summit Everest) said he climbed Mount Everest “because it’s there.”

Take a page from his playbook when you consider a master’s in yoga.

While it’s surprising, yoga degrees are out there—and gaining popularity.

At the SOAS University of London, you can earn your MA in Traditions of Yoga and Meditation.   The beauty of the program?  It’s full-time or part-time.

The program has five required courses, all of which enhance the practical and theoretical foundations of yoga within a historical context (see #3).

 

2. It will deepen your practice.

You will learn—and practice—everything there is to learn about yoga.  From philosophy (see #3) to physical practice and breath work, you will have a clear understanding about asana, pranayama, and other forms.

You’ll also learn new skills that will not only inform your practice, but will help you guide others.  You’ll work on the mind-body connection and be able to work as a health practitioner in alternative medicine.

3. You’ll learn philosophy.

You would not be a true yoga guru without doing your homework.  You will learn the philosophy of the practice, from its origins.

What are the benefits of learning philosophy?  Internal calmness—even under pressure. 

Want a head start?  Check out the Yoga Sutras to start, 196 Indian aphorisms on how you should live your life.  We’d be remiss if you didn’t also read the Bhagavad Gita, one section of a longer tome written between 500 and 400 BCE.  It tells the story of the battle within all of our souls.  

 

4. It’s a fun challenge.

Get your warrior pose on and give yourself a physical, mental, and academic workout.  Let’s go back to your physical practice for a minute: you’ll be doing and learning all of those poses that you dreaded or have put off during yoga class. 

You’ll also learn mad business skills.  How?  Once you graduate, you’ll be able to register with Yoga Alliance as a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT).  What does this give you?  Access: start your own studio, run your own business, change lives through yoga. Be your own boss—for the better of yourself and others.

You’ll increase your flexibility—physically and mentally, and think of yourself as more than just an academic. You’ll be a spiritual one. And a strong one at that.

Convinced? You should be.

Go.  Study.  Be.

Namaste.

 

 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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