Gitte Bechsgaard, PhD, CIYT, RP


Gitte Bechsgaard, founder of Vidya Institute International, Toronto (2002),  has studied, taught and researched in the field of Yoga, Psychology and the Vedic Wisdom Traditions for almost 30 years. She is certified as a Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher (CIYT), and teaches throughout North America and Europe.  In 2011 Gitte completed her PhD thesis on The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali  which is published as The Gift of Consciousness: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (Cambridge Scholars Press). Her other book, The Sacred in Exile: What It Really Means to Lose Our Religion, co-written with Dr. Gillian McCann,was published with Palgrave in 2017. Together, Gillian and Gitte have facilitated University Conferences in the area of Health, Healing and Religion  for Nipissing University, centered on themes related to the cultivation of religious tolerance, holistic health, contemplative practice and spirituality. They also co-write for Psychology Today on a monthly basis.

Gitte has studied privately with her mentor Sri Krishan Mantriji in the areas of Sanskrit, Yoga philosophy, Jyotish and Contemplative practice. She has also been actively engaged in Yoga research in various hospital settings in Toronto for the last 18 years, in conjunction with York University. Aside from Gitte’s work in the field of Yoga and spirituality she is also a registered psychotherapist (RP). Her main area of interest is the dialogue between Eastern and Western approaches to the mind, health and healing. She is a graduate from the Centre for Training in psychotherapy (CTP), Toronto.

Gillian McCann, PhD


Gillian McCann is an associate professor in the Religions and Cultures Department, Nipissing University, Canada. She holds a doctorate in Religious studies in the area of South East Asian religious traditions. She has taught in a variety of academic settings on world religions, women in religion, health and spirituality, and the intersection of East and West. Alongside her work in academia Gillian has partnered with Gitte Bechsgaard at Vidya Institute International on various scholarly and educational projects. Together they have written The Sacred in Exile (2017), and  continue to write monthly for Psychology Today on spirituality and related themes. Gillian’s first book Vanguard of the New Age: The Toronto Theosophical Society 1891-1945 was published in May 2012.

Gitte and Gillian have have recently coauthored The Sacred in Exile: What it Really Means to Lose our Religion (Palgrave Macmillan: October, 2017). Since 2011, they have partnered with Nipissing University to organize annual conferences in Health, Healing and Religion, centered on themes related to the cultivation of religious tolerance, health and spirituality.