History of Yoga Course for Yoga Teacher Trainings

Intro to the History of Yoga is a 20-hour online course, approved by Yoga Alliance, to fulfill the foundational yoga history and philosophy curriculum in your yoga teacher training program.

Our course provides a deep dive into the ocean of ideas, practices, and culture that evolved into modern Yoga. The comprehensive curriculum moves through over 2500 years of South Asian cultural and spiritual innovation, including profound philosophical inquiry into the nature of the human experience, and the disciplines of meditation, mantra, ritual, and breath that are the heart of Yoga as a spiritual practice.

Intro to the History of Yoga: Philosophy, Practice, Transformation

A university-level introduction to Yoga history from an engaging scholar-practitioner, designed for yoga teacher training programs.

History of Yoga Course
integrating history & practice

The course explores Yoga from two perspectives: history & practice.

  1. Through the lens of history, ideas are explored by looking at the cultural conditions that surrounded them, the dynamic social and political contexts in which Yoga developed.
  2. Through the lens of practice, we engage with the teachings of yoga as spiritual practitioners, concerned with the result of dedicated practice in our lives and relationships now.

Integrating this course into your curriculum not only ensures you are covering all of the foundational history and philosophy content, it ensures that graduates of your program will be equipped with a deep understanding and reverence for the culture and traditions from which these transformative practices arose.

Meet your guide, Dr. Sean Feit Oakes

Buddhism & Hatha Yoga

Sean Feit Oakes, PhD, E-RYT, SEP, teaches Buddhism and Haṭha Yoga with a focus on the integration of meditation, trauma resolution, and social justice. He has studied in Theravāda, Zen, and Vajrāyāna Buddhist lineages, including training as a monk in Burma, and was authorized to teach Insight Meditation by Jack Kornfield. He studied yoga with Alice Joanou, Rachel Shaw, Amanda Moran, and David Moreno, taught mindfulness-based vinyasa for 10 years, and now focuses his teaching on individualized āsana and prāṇāyāma for experienced students, and a somatic approach to inquiry, ethics, and meditation as the heart of the path.

Continue reading Dr. Oakes’ full bio and statement of positionality…

After years of teaching the history and philosophy components in both 200 and 500 hour YTT programs, Dr. Oakes is proud to make this content widely available in this flexible and affordable format. Dr. Oakes’ is particularly passionate about expanding access to this material, strengthening modern Yoga education to respect and preserve historical context, and deepening in our communities the skills of cultural competence that are so necessary in an increasingly complex world.

History of Yoga Course Details

One of the beauties of using our online course is that the whole experience has already been created. You can simply plug it in to your program without any further hassle or time commitment. We also value human relationship and are excited to collaborate and customize details for you, to the extent you wish. You can think of us as part of your teaching faculty, and come to us with any questions or requests you might have.

included for students
  • 16 hours of engaging, professionally recorded video lecture
  • Over 4 hours of guided meditations to integrate the concepts studied
  • Inquiry questions for each class
  • 70 page manual, including text excerpts & suggestions for further study
  • The ability to learn from anywhere, anytime, and at their own pace
  • Lifetime access for continued study and reference
included for you
  • Course access for the program director and lead instructors
  • Direct support from Dr. Oakes and team
  • Option to add Q&A sessions and a group forum 
  • Group Management dashboard to add, remove, and email students, and view their progress
  • Full scale technical support 
  • University-level education materials for a fraction of the cost!

Even in the most thoughtfully designed programs, the demands of educating competent teachers and the expenses of YTT classroom time often ends up squeezing the history and philosophy components in ways that diminish the quality and depth of the student experience. Moving that part of your curriculum into an online program assures your students are receiving a complete, consistent education year after year. It also connects you with a highly specialized philosophy and history teacher which can otherwise be hard to find or afford. 

let this course help you!

Fulfill Your Hours

Comprehensive coverage of all foundational history and philosophy topics.

Approved by Yoga Alliance for 20 hours in the Yoga Humanities category.


This course delivers the content in a fully designed and optimized online learning experience.

Your students simply log-in and flow through the classes. 


Dr. Oakes and team are dedicated to your program and to the education of your students. We’re available for student and faculty questions regarding both content and execution. 

Bonus Content

Feel welcome to use the handouts, discussion points and suggested practices to provide additional classroom hours with your in-house faculty.


Let us send you a free resource that you can begin using in your programs immediately: “8 Yoga Texts that Every YTT Should Include” with key text excerpts and discussion prompts, pulled from our course manual and packaged into a shareable PDF.

Course Content

Browse through the complete course syllabus to see just how much content is poured into this course, organized in a mostly chronological and easy to digest format.

1.1 Intro: What is Yoga?
1.2 The Indus Valley Civilization
1.3 Two Vedic Hymns
1.4 Yoga in the Upaniṣads
1.5 Death as Guru: The Kaṭha Upaniṣad
1.6 Q & A, 25 Tattva (elements)
1.7 Practice: 5 Great Elements & 5 Senses
1.8 Q & A
Class 1 Inquiry: Renunciation & discomfort

2.1 Śramana review & stories of Young Gotama
2.2 Gotama studies Yoga
2.3 Gotama’s ascetic practice & childhood insight
2.4 Q & A: formless concentration & ancient yoga practice
2.5 Early Buddhist philosophy & practice
2.6 Two Early Buddhist practices
Class 2 Inquiry: The Buddha & his community

3.1 Opening Practice: Sense Experience & Awareness
3.2 Core Doctrines of Classical Yoga
3.3 The Philosophical Schools of Yoga & Sāṃkhya
3.4 The Philosophy of the Yoga-Sūtra, part 1
3.5 Patañjali Q & A: Yama
3.6 The Philosophy of the Yoga-Sūtra, part 2: 8 Limbs
3.7 Meditation based on the Yoga-Sūtra of Patañjali
Class 3 Inquiry: Flow, stillness, ethics

4.1 The Great Indian Epic: Mahābhārata, part 1
4.2 The Great Indian Epic: Mahābhārata, part 2
4.3 Teachings of the Bhagavad Gītā, part 1: karma
4.4 Teachings of the Bhagavad Gītā, part 2: yoga; colonialism
4.5 Teachings of the Bhagavad Gītā, part 3: bhakti
4.6 Bhakti Practices: mantra, chanting, kirtan
Class 4 Inquiry: Karma & Devotion

5.1 Intro to Second Half of Course & Review
5.2 Two Classical Yoga Practices: Meditation & Mantra; Q & A
5.3 So many Gods & Goddesses
5.4 Myth: Churning the Ocean of Milk
5.5 Vaiṣṇava Bhakti: Stories of Viṣṇu in the form of Kṛṣṇa
5.6 Śaiva Goddess Worship: Stories of Devī in the Forms of Durgā & Kālī
Class 5 Inquiry: Deities & mythology

6.1 Review & Intro to Tantric Philosophy: Dualism & Non-dualism
6.2 Tantra in Indian History: Philosophy & Practice
6.3 Tantra in Practice: The Guru Principle, Q & A
6.4 Principles of Tantra: Definitions, Texts, Doctrines
Class 6 Inquiry: social norms & gender in Tantra

7.1 The Tantric Roots of Haṭha Yoga
7.2 Practices of Early Haṭha Yoga
7.3 The Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā: Practices
7.4 The Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā: kuṇḍalinī, lāya, Q & A
Class 7 Inquiry: Health, power, & sex in Haṭha Yoga

8.1 Meditation: Sensation, embodiment, gratitude
8.2 Yoga comes West: Emerson, Vivekananda, Colonialism
8.3 “Modern Yoga”: Northern & Southern Lineages
8.4 Issues: cultural appropriation, spiritual materialism, race, diversity & inclusion, feminism, body image
Class 8 Inquiry: Modernity & all its issues

Enjoy a sample video from the course, presenting of one of the most widely covered topics in YTT courses (the philosophical aspect of Patañjali’s Yoga-Sūtra). 


Dr. Oakes is known for his commitment to affordability and accessibility. One of the goals in creating this course was to make a more sustainable option for educators to provide quality instruction in their Yoga teacher training programs. 

We are pleased to offer the lowest, most generous price possible:

Intro to the History of Yoga
for Yoga teacher training programs


Booking a highly experienced and specialized faculty member for live hours in your training can be expensive. 20 hours of content at that rate could easily cost $3000. 

We know that the reality is your budget can limit your options. Regardless of your intentions and desires the final question tends to always be: “but, can I afford it?”

We hope the answer is now, “Yes!”

We chose to price our course at one flat rate based on the hours of content, rather than charging per student, as we feel that our commitment and offering is to you, the program as a whole. If you would like to discuss a custom option, please contact us.

If you cater your offering to an underserved population, or if you are in the Global South, please contact us to discuss scholarship options. And thank you for your dedication to expanding access to Yoga as a historically-informed, justice-centered healing and liberation practice.

What people are saying

Not part of a group or YTT?

We open this course once or twice a year to the public, bringing together a wonderful cohort of practitioners to learn and engage with the material together.


What are the benefits of online education?

Learn anywhere, anytime. Let’s face it, everyone is busy these days. Offering 20 hours of your program in a more convenient manner will make your program stand out to students who are already juggling a lot of commitments (and who isn’t, really?). Students aren’t the only ones who are busy, wouldn’t it be helpful to free up 20 hours of space on your studio schedule to fit other classes and workshops and to reduce the overall running cost of your program?

Stop, start, repeat. Ever notice that some students get tired towards the end of a long day together in YTT? Do you see yawns and wandering eyes, even when they are trying to focus? Online learning allows students to take a break when needed without missing anything or to pick back up the next day. They can rewind to listen to those words that didn’t quite sink in a few more times, or repeat a whole video, even the whole course as many times as they like!

Control the pace. Our course is broken down into 8 classes, each consisting of multiple, short videos. This format allows students to move at a pace that works for them. The flexible structure also allows you to build the course into your syllabus in a way that integrates easily with the flow of your training.

Improve engagement and information retention. Studies have shown that some students have trouble retaining information in live, in-person environments. The online learning environment allows students to cater their experience to their own needs and return to the material as much as needed. We provide lifetime access to our course, so that students may return and refresh their knowledge long after graduating from YTT.

How does the course integrate into my program?

Our course is a complete package. Your students will log into our professional learning platform to take the course where every design detail has been thoughtfully curated to promote a distraction free learning environment. The course includes an overview, full PDF manual, video lectures, Q&A discussions, guided meditations, and recommendations for supplemental study.

Customization. You know better than anyone what makes the most sense for your students and your program. Our course is flexible enough to cater to your unique needs. You can create deadlines for completion, choose to collect the homework assignments or not, create your own homework assignments, use the discussion points as supplemental in-class material, book Dr. Oakes to lead an in-class or virtual discussion, and create many more personalizations to make this just right for you. 

Shared transparency. You have visibility to your students’ progress and will be notified when anyone completes the course. Additional notifications can be arranged.

No tech headaches. Someone forgot their log-in? Don’t worry about it, we handle this and all other technical needs or questions.

Is this course right for my program?

This course is the result of years of experience teaching the history and philosophy of Yoga to Teacher Training courses, and we put the full force of our care and effort into crafting the most engaging, culturally-appropriate, and professional online presentation possible. We’re super proud of the finished product but know there are many factors for you to consider while making this choice.  Every training is unique, with it’s own perspective and priorities.

We think our History of Yoga Course is perfect for you if:

You are looking to upgrade your content, at an affordable price. If you don’t happen to be one of the lucky studios to have a history of yoga scholar in your area or within your budget, you now have a new option. Yoga Alliance’s recent change in allowing more online hours was in part to expand access to senior specialty teachers. This course brings Dr. Sean Feit Oakes directly into your program for a fraction of the cost of having him, or any senior teacher, scheduled for live sessions.

You want to focus your curriculum on going beyond the basics. Over the years newer and younger practitioners are choosing to dive deeply into their yoga experience through teacher training. Many students may not have exposure to some of the most fundamental concepts of yoga philosophy or have any historical context. Let this course do the legwork of providing your trainees with a thorough foundation in the material so that they show up to class ready for meaningful dialogue and the profound transformation that you have planned for them.

You want to graduate culturally competent teachers. It’s up to us to ensure that the future of yoga remains connected to its history. This course provides a start by ensuring that new teachers are equipped with a comprehensive understanding of  the depth and diversity of the South Asian traditions, and acknowledge their duty to honor these cultures through respectful engagement with the practices. 

You’re a new program just building your curriculum. Including our course in your program takes care of 20 of the 30 required hours in the Yoga Humanities category, covering all history and philosophy topics from the required list. Give yourself peace of mind that this content is well covered and focus your programming efforts on highlighting the skills of your in-house faculty. 

You need to adjust your curriculum to meet the new Yoga Alliance standards. If you are like most programs, you used to have about 20 hours of content included in your 200 hours that were non-contact. With all 200 hours being required as classroom hours now, you are likely looking to fill 20 more hours into your schedule. This course fits exactly into that spot and helps you avoid any impact to your existing training schedule.

Want to look deeper at the content?

We are happy to offer complimentary access to the full course so that you can test-drive the material. What could be better than knowing exactly what your students will be getting, the depth of the content and the quality of the presentation? We think full transparency is invaluable and ultimately, we want you to feel completely confident with the decision to use our course in your program.

We look forward to getting to know you and supporting your program.

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Thank you for your interest in our course! We will respond shortly to answer any questions and set up complimentary access. We’ll also send you a downloadable handout that you can begin using in your YTT program immediately.

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