Gitte Bechsgaard, PhD, CIYT, RP


Gitte Bechsgaard, founder of Vidya Institute, has studied, taught and researched in the field of Yoga, Eastern psychology and Contemplative traditions for over 25 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 Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras which is published as The Gift of Consciousness: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, (Cambridge Scholar Press). Gitte studied privately with her mentor Sri Krishan Mantriji in the areas of Yoga philosophy, Sanskrit, Jyotish and Contemplative practice, and received her foundational Yoga training at the BKS Iyengar Yoga Centre. She is currently studying with Iyengar teachers Gloria Goldberg and Manouso Manos in the USA. Gitte is actively involved in Yoga research in various hospital settings in Toronto, in conjunction with York University.

Aside from Gitte’s work in the field of Yoga she is also a registered psychotherapist (RP), working in private practice in Toronto. Her main area of interest is the dialogue between Eastern and Western approaches to the mind and consciousness. She is a graduate from the Centre for Training in psychotherapy (CTP), Toronto.

Gillian McCann, PhD

Gillian-McCannGillian McCann is an Associate Professor in the Religions and Cultures Department, Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario. She holds a doctorate in Religious Studies in the area of South Asian religious traditions. She has taught in a variety of academic settings on world religions, women in religion, health and spirituality, the intersection of East and West, and religion and the environment. Alongside her work in academia, Gillian has partnered with Gitte Bechsgaard at Vidya Institute on various scholarly and educational projects. Gillian’s 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.