YS 202: The Yogas of the Bhagavad Gītā

A 26-hour online course 

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Distance Learning

Study the history and philosophy of yoga, at your own pace, from the comfort of your own home. 

Digital Svādhyāya

Engage in the traditional practice of "Self-Study," using the latest in modern online learning technologies.

Online Community

Join a thriving online community of yoga teachers, practitioners, and students from around the world. 

Looking to deepen your study of yoga philosophy? Would you like to read and study the Bhagavad Gītā in a formal way, together with a group of yogis from around the world?

Join Seth Powell, PhD Candidate at Harvard University, and a global cohort of students, for this exciting opportunity to dive deep into the timeless wisdom and teachings of the Bhagavad Gītā. This new online course will provide you with an in-depth immersion into the history, philosophy, and theology of the Gītā. Through recorded video lectures, intimate Q&A sessions, readings, and quizzes, together we will immerse into a close and thorough study of one of yoga’s most ancient, important, and mis-understood scriptures!

The Bhagavad Gītā, the "Song of the Lord"—or simply the Gītā, as it is affectionately known—is one of India's and yoga's most beloved scriptures. Through this timeless dialogue between Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa—warrior and charioteer, student and teacher, devotee and God—we are invited into a rich study and reflection on the meaning of life, one’s social and moral duty (dharma), ethical action (karma), devotion (bhakti), as well as the theory and disciplines of yoga. 
Seeking to read the Gītā in its historical and philosophical context, this course will give special attention to the various teachings on yoga in the Gītā, including three of the earliest definitions of yoga in a Sanskrit text! We will explore the well-known (but often misunderstood) models of Karmayoga (“the yoga of action”), Jñānayoga (“the yoga of knowledge”), and Bhaktiyoga (“the yoga of devotion”)—as well as lesser-known forms such as Buddhiyoga (“the yoga of discernment) and Dhyānayoga (“the yoga of meditation”).
As we will see, unlike more ascetic models of classical Yoga which suggest that the yogi must retreat from the world, the Gītā’s universal message promotes a social ethic of engaging in the world through disciplined yogic practice, by turning all of one’s activities into humble yogic service and devotion. Throughout this course, we will reflect on the ethical and philosophical challenges the Gītā puts forth, contemplating their relation to our own modern lives and yoga practice.

Topics covered in this course include:

  • The "epic" context: The Gītā within the Mahābhārata
  • The doctrines of Karma + Saṃsāra
  • The meaning of Dharma
  • The relations between asceticism, ritual, and worldly life
  • The complexities of caste and class
  • Understanding the concepts of Ātman and Brahman
  • Early definitions of the term "Yoga"
  • Karmayoga, the "Yoga of Action"
  • Jñānayoga, the "Yoga of Knowledge"
  • Bhaktiyoga, the "Yoga of Devotion"
  • The relationship between Sāṅkhya, Yoga, and Vedānta
  • The influence of Buddhism and Jainism
  • The Gītā's relationship to the Vedas and Upaniṣads
  • Parallels between the Gītā and the Yogasūtra
  • The Gītā's inclusive theology and the nature of God
  • Understanding the various Sanskrit Commentaries
  • The ethics of the Gītā: Hiṃsā or Ahiṃsā? 
  • And much more!

Students enrolled in this course will receive:

  • 7 live weekly video lectures + Q&A (2-3 hours)
  • 7 live weekly Q&A sessions (1 hour)
  • 26 Hours of CE credit
  • Course Syllabus with Recommended Readings (PDF)
  • Additional Handouts (PDF)
  • Yogic Studies Certificate upon completion (PDF)
  • Access to the private Yogic Studies Online Community Forum
  • BONUS resources to aid your continued study of the Gītā

This course is eligible for 26 hours of Continued Education (CE) credits with Yoga Alliance

Course Structure

Module 1 — An Introduction to the Gītā: The Song Within the Epic (Ch. 1)

Module 2 — The Nature of the Self, Sāṅkhya, and Yoga (Chs. 2-3)

Module 3 — The Way of Knowledge, Renunciation, and Meditation (Chs. 4-6)

Module 4 — Divine Knowledge, Brahman, & the Theology of Kṛṣṇa (Chs. 7-9)

Module 5 — Kṛṣṇa’s Universal Form & The Yoga of Devotion (Chs. 10-12)

BONUS Module — Vedānta and the BhG Commentarial Tradition

Module 6 — Primordial Nature & the Eternal Person, Prakṛti & Puruṣa (Chs. 13-15)

Module 7 — Concluding the Gītā: The Supreme Secret of Yoga (Chs. 16-18)

Your Instructor

Seth Powell is a longtime practitioner of yoga and a scholar of Indian religions, Sanskrit, and yoga traditions, and is the founder of Yogic Studies. He is currently a PhD Candidate in South Asian Religions at Harvard University, where he is writing his dissertation on the history, theory, and practice of medieval and early modern yoga traditions. Seth also holds degrees in the study of religion from the University of Washington (MA) and Humboldt State University (BA). He has taught and lectured for numerous university courses on the religions and literature of India, Hinduism, Buddhism, and yoga traditions, and presents his research regularly at international conferences.

As a scholar-practitioner, Seth is gifted in his ability to present the ancient teachings of yoga clearly in an accessible, light-hearted, and inspiring manner—while maintaining a rigor and sensitivity to traditional Indian knowledge systems. Seth conducts workshops and lectures regularly on the history and philosophy of yoga at studios, teacher trainings, and universities around the country. 

Frequently Asked Questions

The course originally ran for a period of 7 weeks, and includes a total of 26 video lectures + discussion hours. As a self-study course, you can now move through the modules entirely at your own pace, according to your own schedule and needs. 

You will have continued access to all lectures and materials. There is no time limit to complete the course! 

Each weekly module will consist of a pre-recorded main lecture (2-3 hours) + Q&A session (1 hour), chapter readings of the BhG, weekly PDF handouts, and optional quizzes to test your knowledge as you go.

Each video lecture is comprised of Seth teaching directly to the camera, alongside keynote slides and other short web clips. They are visually rich, clearly organized, and engaging.

Students are required to purchase (or borrow from a library!) Graham Schweig's English translation, which will serve as the primary text for this course. More info about texts and further recommended readings can be found in the course Syllabus. 

Not to worry! This course assumes no prior knowledge or study of the Gītā. 

However, students who have some familiarity with its basic teachings, Indian philosophy, and the Yogasūtra, will only stand to benefit. 

Yes! Upon completion of the course, you will be eligible for an official Yogic Studies certificate of completion. 

This is a bonus feature for those who are Registered Yoga Teachers (RYT) with Yoga Alliance. Once you've completed the course you can login to your YA account, search for the course in their registry, and add the course and your hours. Once Yogic Studies has received a confirmation request, we can confirm your CE hours. 

If for some reason you are unsatisfied with the course, contact us in the first 30 days and we will issue you a full refund! See, you have nothing to lose. So what are you waiting for? : )

Please direct all questions and inquiries to [email protected]

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Onetime Payment

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Testimonials for Yogic Studies

"Seth Powell is at the forefront of a new generation of yoga scholars, and rare among them in that he combines textual studies, fieldwork in India, and a practical understanding of yoga in his scholarship. It’s great that he’s reaching out beyond the academy to share his hard-earned knowledge."

Dr. James Mallinson
Senior Lecturer in Sanskrit and Classical and Indian Studies, SOAS, University of London

"Seth Powell has created courses for Yogic Studies that engage the yoga practitioner in an honest, insightful and inspiring dialogue, bringing ancient practices into modern conversations. By illuminating the historical, cultural and social context of yoga, we come to see and understand the emergence and popularity of modern postural yoga as an ever evolving expression of the seeker’s journey toward self-development and ultimately self realization."

Nikki Costello
Founder of The Practice, CIYT, C-IAYT

"In the courses I’ve taken with Yogic Studies a whole new perspective on what Yoga is, and how we got to where we are today, has been revealed, and a sense of inquiry and a new found interest has been sparked within myself. Seth has a great ability to share these ancients teachings, and the latest scholarly research, in a way that promotes a sense of open-minded inquiry. I highly recommend his courses to all students and teachers of Yoga."

Mark Robberds
International Yoga Teacher

"Seth creates an inviting and accessible online learning environment where he shares his wealth of knowledge with humility and grace. Warning! It may be addictive."

Thérèse Marie Mirande
Ph.D., RYT-200 Tacoma, WA

"As a long time student and teacher, I feel lucky to have found Seth Powell and Yogic Studies. It's such a gift to have access to easily understandable and current information about the long and complex history of yoga. Seth has the special skill of making this esoteric material accessible and enjoyable to all of us."

Jivana Heyman
Founder & Director, Accessible Yoga

"Seth knows his stuff! Each week his material was clearly and accessibly presented, completely relevant, and helpfully illustrated. Unlike many academics researching yoga today, Seth's talks were uncluttered with academic jargon, yet he never once talked down to his audience. His smile and enthusiasm were infectious, I looked forward with anticipation to each week's release... This is a terrific introduction to the history and philosophy of yoga, highly recommended to any serious student."

Richard Rosen
Yoga Teacher, Author of "Original Yoga: Rediscovering Traditional Practices of Hatha Yoga"
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