THE Vivekananda Yoga University (VaYU) in Los Angeles — world’s first yoga university outside India — has commenced classes virtually.
Offering programmes that combine scientific principles and modern research approaches to the ancient Indian practice of yoga, VaYU was launched in June as part of the 6th International Yoga Day commemoration.
Over 30 applicants – including individuals from America and Canada from diverse backgrounds such as physicians, professors, engineers and entrepreneurs — have enrolled for an online MS in Yoga, said VaYU founding director Prem Bhandari.
VaYU, he added, was helping propagate Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message of the importance of yoga in achieving harmony and a healthier planet, and that yoga was a force for unity that did not discriminate on basis of race, colour, gender, faith and nations.
Bhandari said the university “would produce the best modern-day yoga practitioners who would not only spread peace but make planet Earth a better place to live”, adding that VaYU was a “prime example” of people-to-people connections between India and the US.
VaYU is chaired by eminent Indian yoga guru HR Nagendra, who is chancellor of India’s first yoga university, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (SVYASA).
Nagendra, who is a yoga consultant to Modi, said VaYU would offer wisdom-based holistic vision as well as academic dimensions of yoga to people across the US.
“Best of the East is yoga and its applications and best of West is modern scientific research. We want to bring this integrated dimension of healthcare to world at large — allopathy and the AYUSH systems [Ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy],” he said during the university’s launch.
VaYU, which has faculty from SVYASA, will facilitate collaborative research, credit transfers and joint programmes with premier universities across the world.
Bhandari said Indian foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla played a key role in setting up the university, noting that efforts were on to take the benefits of yoga to other parts of the world.
The plan to launch VaYU was announced in Washington DC last year during the commemoration of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, when Shringla was the Indian ambassador to the US.
The next semester of the US university will commence in January, and plans were underway to open a campus in Japan as well, said Bhandari.