Welcome to a brand new yoga teacher training experience. For you and your students.

Imagine providing your trainees with a university-level foundation in Yoga history and philosophy, without breaking the budget. 

Imagine having this curriculum curated and delivered by a highly experienced senior teacher, sought after for his expertise in articulating complex, nuanced material in an accessible way.

Imagine boosting student engagement and retention through online content, without having to create the experience from scratch yourself.

Does this feel supportive, maybe even a bit relieving?   our course is designed for you!

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

Dr. Sean Feit Oakes

A 20-hour course designed specifically to provide the history and philosophy foundation for Yoga teacher training programs. 

Intro to the History of Yoga is a deep dive into the ocean of ideas, practices, and culture that evolved into modern Yoga.

This course takes students on a journey, looking at over 2500 years of Indian cultural and spiritual innovation, including profound philosophical inquiry into the nature of existence and experience and the disciplines of meditation, mantra, ritual, and breath that are the heart of Yoga as a spiritual practice. 

This 20 hour online course meets Yoga Alliance requirements and is fully accepted under their new standards, which allow for 20 of the 30 required hours in Yoga Humanities to be completed online.

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.

The creation of this course was born out of Dr. Oakes’ passion for supporting and strengthening modern Yoga education to respect and preserve historical context, sharing the depth and diversity of the South Asian traditions, and deepening in our communities the skills of cultural competence that are so necessary in our increasingly complex world.

Meet your guide, Dr. Sean Feit Oakes

Buddhism & Hatha Yoga Scholar

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 mentored to teach Insight Meditation by Jack Kornfield. He has studied yoga with Alice Joanou, Rachel Shaw, Amanda Moran, and David Moreno, and taught mindfulness-based āsana and prāṇāyāma for 10 years.

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 thrilled to make his content widely available in this flexible and affordable format.

I just wanted to send a quick note to let you know how grateful I am for the guidance and insight you offer so generously. I’m not a religious person, but I find myself hungry at this age for discourse and wisdom around how to lead a more meaningful, ethical, and full life. I wanted to share with you that the respectful & safe space you hold, along with the thoughtful talks you give including the robust Q&A at the end, means a lot to me and is helping transform my thinking and actions on a daily basis.”

-Satsang student

The full package

Implementing our course in your program goes far beyond securing a top tier instructor and a deeply comprehensive curriculum, it includes all of the transparency and support you could ever hope for.

Dr. Oakes and his team are available to support your program beyond just offering you this course. We collaborate on how to best integrate the material into your unique vision and customize the experience to highlight what sets your training apart from others.

Here’s an overview of everything that is automatically included when we work together:

included for students
  • Log-in access to the course on a user-friendly, professional learning platform
  • 16 hours of engaging, high quality video lecture, including stories, philosophy, images, and excerpts from classical texts, recorded live in Berkeley, CA in 2017
  • Hundreds of beautiful slides with classical imagery & text excerpts
  • Guided meditations for personal practice
  • Comprehensive downloadable manual (over 70 pages!), including text excerpts & suggestions for further study
  • Inquiry questions that explore the relevance of the material for contemporary practitioners
  • The ability to learn from anywhere, anytime, and at their own pace
  • Repeat and replay content as much as desired
included for you
  • Course access for the program director and lead instructors
  • Support from Dr. Oakes regarding your questions and how to best answer student questions
  • Opportunity to book a guest appearance or video conferences with Dr. Oakes 
  • The ability to use course practices and reflection questions as homework assignments or in-class discussion
  • Ongoing administrative support including student set-up and technical support as well as progress and course completion reports
  • University-level education materials for a fraction of the cost!

We are proud to partner with Yoga schools who are dedicated to educating the next generation of teachers in a way that honors the root traditions of Yoga, supports teachers in their own spiritual practice, and lays the foundation for a lifetime of study and growth.

Even in the most thoughtfully designed programs, the demands and expenses of YTT classroom time often ends up squeezing the history and philosophy components of trainings in ways that diminish the quality and depth of the student experience. In addition, many YTT programs lack a specialized philosophy and history teacher. 


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. 


Increase information retention by allowing your students to learn from anywhere, anytime and to stop, start and repeat as needed.

Bonus Content

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

“This was an outstanding course which gave a great overview and insight into yoga history and philosophy as well as contemporary issues. It was the best overview reference that cleared up many confusing issues for me thanks to his clear, concise, logical/chronological presentation. I loved being able to pause the video anytime to take notes and breaks. Loved the entire class and look forward to hearing him “live”! 

-Bob M. (course participant through a 300 hour program)

Course Syllabus

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: cultual appropriation, spiritual materialism, race, diversity & inclusion, feminism, body image
Class 8 Inquiry: Modernity & all its issues

Preview a Class

Enjoy a sample video from the course. Get a sense of Dr. Oakes’ teaching style through his presentation of one of the most widely covered topics in YTT (Patañjali). 


Dr. Sean Feit 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!”

After a lot of thought, we chose to price our course at one flat rate, based on the hours covered in your program, rather than charging per student. That could quickly add up if you have a large cohort. Even though our material and resources will be going to more students, we feel that our commitment and offering is to you, the program as a whole. 

If you cater your offering to an underserved population, please contact us to discuss flexibility. And thank you for your dedication to expanding access to this remarkably healing practice.


We’d love to collaborate with you and support your efforts in providing exceptional education to the next generation of yoga teachers.


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. You can rewind to listen to those words that didn’t quite sink in a few more times, or repeat a whole video. Heck, you can repeat the whole course as many times as you’d 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.

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 1000 days of access to our course (an auspicious number in Buddhism), 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 student’s 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, you have enough details to tend to with managing a YTT program. 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 history and philosophy to YTTs combined with a lot of hours and effort crafting the most engaging and professional online presentation possible. While we think this is the absolute best introduction to yoga history available as an online course, we know that doesn’t mean it’s the perfect fit for you. Every training is unique, with it’s own perspective and priorities.

Our History of Yoga Course is perfect for you if:

You want the best education possible for your students, 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.

Can I 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.