It’s about time: U.S. gets first Doctoral program in Yoga


Vivekananda Yoga University (VaYU) in Los Angeles, California, offers Ph.D. in Yoga

June 2022 graduating class of Vivekananda Yoga University’s (Los Angeles, CA) M.S. (Yoga) degree program with Prof. Dr. H.R. Nagendra (in white), VaYU President Prof. Sree N Sreenath (fourth from right in the second row), and VaYU Research Director Prof. Manjunath Sharma (fifth from left on the first row), VaYU Founding Trustee and Chairman Babulal Gandhi (second from right in the first row), and VaYU Provost Dr. Srinivasa Reddy (first from right in the first row). Photo courtesy Vivekananda Yoga University, California.

Today, yoga, an ancient Indian science and philosophy, has been accepted as offering natural remedies for stress, health, flexibility of organs and general health maintenance. Newer forms of yoga such as Bollywood yoga and power yoga have come up. New courses to teach and learn yoga have been introduced by a number of educational institutions.

It was Vivekananda, the questioning and doubting philosopher, who brought Indian thought to the U.S. He saw the importance of self control, of looking inward, and finding a root within. He saw knowledge of the philosophy and practices of yoga as important to achieve a balance between the mind and the body. Following his principles, the Vivekananda Yoga University (VaYU) established in Los Angeles, California, in 2020, offers yoga degree courses.

In the Fall of 2022, VaYU introduced a Ph.D. program in Yoga. VaYU is the first university in the U.S. and outside of India to offer systematic study of the science of Yoga which Vivekananda believed to be the only way for people to deal with the modern world and achieve equanimity. He advocated a healthy body to house a healthy mind.

Vivekananda Yoga University (Los Angeles, CA) also offers an M.S. (Yoga) degree program. Photo courtesy Vivekananda Yoga University, California.

VaYU was founded with the mission to create a yogic life path for the welfare of humanity and the vision to build a healthy and harmonious world through wholistic Yoga, and is waiting for final accreditation from the Accrediting agency Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), after receiving its clearance. WASC also accredits reputable universities on the West Coast of America.

The doctoral degree program of VaYU is a serious study of the Science of Yoga, the Philosophy of Yoga, and the Therapeutic Practice of Yoga. Admission to the doctoral program requires a Master of Science degree in Yoga or equivalent. Like other regular doctoral programs, VaYU Ph.D. program takes between 3 to 5 years to complete and is divided in preparatory coursework, qualifier for advancement to candidacy, and submission of an original dissertation, all under the university research faculty.

The new Ph.D. program offers an in-depth study of not only the theory and philosophy of yoga but also its therapeutic applications in management of physical ailments including cancers and neurological, digestive, and rheumatoid conditions. Beginning to offer the program in the Fall semester of 2022, VaYU has already enrolled 10 doctoral students from the U.S., Canada, Qatar, France, and India.

Vivekananda Yoga University’s Certificate program in Yoga is specially designed for healthcare professionals including physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, therapists and more. Photo courtesy Vivekananda Yoga University, California.

Founding Trustee and Chairman Babulal Gandhi has believed that the world needs yoga more than ever before and VaYU is meeting this need by preparing yoga professionals. President Prof. Sree N. Sreenath holds that the doctoral program with research and detailed study of yoga will create yoga professionals to impact every corner of the world. Prof. Murali Venkatrao, the Vice President of Academics, and Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the university, along with the faculty and the board, makes sure all graduate programs at VaYU are founded on scientific methodology and are evidence-based.

VaYU’s other programs include the M.S. (Yoga) which is a 21-month, four-semester, 30 credit Master in Science program, concentrating on both the theory and philosophy of yoga including Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and modern day yoga practices and offers specializations in Philosophy, Yoga Therapy, and/or Research in their 4th semester.

The Diploma in Clinical Yoga Therapy is a 2-semester, 9-month-long diploma for working Healthcare Professionals including Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Nurses, and Physical and Occupational Therapists in Clinical Yoga Therapy.

VaYU also offers a separate MS-PhD for ambitious students who can fast-track to the highest degree in the US.

VaYU collaborates with other educational institutes including the 36-year old Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-VYASA), India, a registered charitable institution working towards making yoga a socially relevant science; the Harvard medical school; the Asian Yoga Therapy Association; the Federation of Indian Physicians Association;  The International Association of Yoga Therapists; The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Stanford University UC Davis Medical Health; UCLA and more.

The logo of Vivekananda Yoga University, Los Angeles, CA. Photo courtesy Vivekananda Yoga University, California.

VaYU’s faculty includes well-known experts in the field of yoga and health. Faculty members also continue their research and publish regularly in academic journals. Noted faculty members include Research Director Prof. Manjunath Sharma, BNYS, PhD, DSc; UC Davis faculty Michelle L. Dossett, MD, PhD, MPH; Dist. Prof. in Clinical Cancer Prevention at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Lorenzo Cohen, PhD; MIT D-Lab & UMass Medical’s Richard Fletcher; Harvard Medical School Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, PhD; UCLA’s Helen Lavretsky;  Director of Global Outreach Programs at Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign, Anurag Mairal, PhD, MBA; Harvard Medical School’s Darshan Mehta, MD, MPH; Cardiologist, MIT LinQ and American Association of Yoga & Meditation’s Indranill Basu Ray, MD, DNB; UCLA’s Srinivasa Reddy; Retired Vasular Surgeon Dilip Sarkar and more.

VaYU is accepting applications for the Spring 2023 semester now. Classes will begin January 18, 2023. More information is available at Admission Counselors are available at or (747) 228-2987.



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