Vidya Institute offers a range of educational programs designed to provide students with a background in Classical Yoga. These offerings, including a Yoga Sutras Course and various workshops, are intended for those seeking a deepening of study and practice as well as offer the opportunity to develop a relationship with both teachers and a community of students. Courses are formatted to allow the student to steadily build a body of living wisdom in the vast field of Vedic studies.
Yoga Sutras Course
An International 4-Module Course on the Yoga Sūtras in Study and Practice, with Gitte Bechsgaard (PhD) and distinguished Iyengar Yoga Teachers:
- Gloria Goldberg – USA
- Sheila Haswell – Europe
We are committed to providing students and teachers of Yoga with an inspiring course of study and practice that is grounded in the tradition of Patañjali’s Yoga. Patañjali’s aphorisms, known as the Yoga Sūtras, offer profound insight on a wide range of contemporary questions and concerns such as the search for meaning, the role of Yoga and spiritual practice (sādhanā) in daily life, and the potential of human consciousness.
Over a period of 4 retreats or “modules”, we will explore this rich storehouse of ancient wisdom, focusing particularly on Yoga philosophy and Yogic psychology in a living dialogue with embodied practice. Each of the 4 parts will occur over a period of 5 days and will include daily lectures on sūtra material as well as traditional recitation of invocation and sūtras in Sanskrit.
The core philosophy course is standardized in order to ensure a high level of teachings in various international locations. The additional practice component is designed to welcome students of all lineages and levels- you may choose to guided instruction in āsana (Yoga postures) and prāṇāyāma with distinguished Iyengar Yoga teachers or you may opt to engage in self-practice (available in selected locations). All of the guided āsana and prāṇāyāma classes will incorporate philosophy teachings from the course, highlighting the many ways in which the wisdom of the Yoga Sūtras can shape and transform our practice.
Module 1: Fundamentals of Yoga and Yogic Philosophy
In this first Yoga intensive, we will examine the model of the mind that Patañjali provides in the first chapter of the Yoga Sūtras. Along the way, we will explore the concept of Yoga as both the essential means and ultimate destination of the inner journey. The Vedic theory of the three essential modes of nature (tamas, rajas, and sattva), as well as the fundamental tenets of Yogic psychology will be discussed.
Module 2: Cultivation and Yogic Practice
Yogic practice is traditionally viewed as a life-long endeavour. It is an inner pilgrimage of the soul. Through practice we can come to realize our inner potential, for without cultivation, self-betterment remains an abstraction. Practice is a catalyst that brings embodied transformation to life, turning ancient knowledge into lived wisdom. Foundational practice as a transformative power is at the very heart of the teachings in this second Yoga intensive.
Module 3: Intensification and Contemplative Practice
In this 3rd module, we will explore the main contemplative practices described in Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtras. As a group, these meditative techniques are referred to as the citta parikarma practices. This term encompasses a wide range of inward-minded practices all of which hold the power to calm the mind and clarify consciousness. Some of these practices concern the Yoga of right relationship- they relate to the cultivation of concentration in ways that can help us to heal and grow through healthy relationships, either with other people, with a Guru or mentor, with a chosen deity, or perhaps even with our own heart, breath, and higher mind.
Together, these practices offer a most essential and life-giving medicine, a solution to be applied in the face of roadblocks or inner agitation. During this intensive, we will also discuss these perennial “roadblocks” or obstacles, examining how they affect our mind, path, and heart.
Module 4: Yoga as Mystical Trance: Cultivating Meditation
According to Patañjali, Yoga embraces a wide range of meditative states. All of these fall under the umbrella term of samyama. These states of super-consciousness are primarily characterized by the gradual stilling of the mind through the meditative trinity of dhāraṇā (concentration), dhyāna (meditation), and samādhi (meditative absorption).
When meditative practice intensifies, the seeker experiences a break-through of the intuitive, the sacred, and the mystical into their otherwise everyday, conditioned consciousness. In all world religions, we find that the mystical path is characterized by this kind of direct experience of the transcendental or sacred.
Vidya Institute’s workshops are intended for Yoga teachers, professionals, and students of Yoga who are interested in a deepening of practice and a rigorous study of classical Yoga Philosophy and the greater Yoga tradition. The intensive nature of these workshops provides students with an opportunity to strengthen their practice through an integrated approach to Yoga and its related Vedic disciplines. In addition, workshops are structured to reflect a balance of theory and practice, including both lecture and practice components.
Please see the teaching schedule page for Gitte’s upcoming courses and workshops.