The Yoga Philosophy Applied Long-Distance Program

(Formerly Known As The “Long Distance Course)

An Immersion in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Iyengar Yoga Practice, & Chanting Sadhana

A Note From Gitte

I’m delighted to present you with our new long-distance learning pathways. These programs emphasize the application of philosophy to your Iyengar Yoga practice and teachings, as well as the practice of traditional Indian chants, sutra recitation, and mantras.

We’ve made great effort to present these deep philosophical teachings in a way that’s easy to digest, and apply, to your practice. In the words of my son, Daniel, “It’s Yoga philosophy without over-intellectualization – it’s surprisingly easy to understand and put into practice”.

If you’re interested in deepening your practice and understanding the lesser-known aspects of Iyengar’s profound method, then these programs are perfect for you.

Best Wishes,


There Are 2 Programs Currently Available

The Yoga Philosophy Foundations Program

Includes a 4 Course Learning Path:

Course #1 -Yogic Alignment :
Alignment With The Sacred, the Seer and traditional maps of Yoga.

Course #2 – Mind-Body Control:
Concentration & Precision In Practice

Course #3 – Holistic Yogic Cleansing :
Steps & Stages Of Purification (sattvification) In Practice

Course #4 – Walking The Eightfold Path:
Sequencing & Integration In Practice

The Yoga Philosophy Advanced Program

Includes a 6 Course Learning Path:

Course #1 -Yogic Alignment :
Alignment With The Sacred, The Seer, and Traditional Yogic Maps.

Course #2 – Mind-Body Control:
Concentration & Precision In Practice

Course #3 – Holistic Yogic Cleansing :
Steps & Stages Of Purification (sattvification) In Practice

Course #4 – Walking The Eightfold Path:
Sequencing & Integration In Practice

Course #5 – The “soul-psychology” of Patanjali l:
Reincarnation & The Meaning Of Suffering In Yoga

Course #6 – The “Soul-Psychology” of Patanjali ll :
The Karma doctrine of India and the deeper aspects of the mind (kleshas)

An Overview Of Course Curriculum

Course #1 – Yogic alignment
Alignment With The Sacred, the Seer, and traditional Yogic maps
(Included in both the Foundations and Advanced Programs)

In Course 1 we’ll explore the concept of Alignment; both from the perspective of the Iyengar Yoga method, as well as from traditional yogic scripture.

Yoga as an archetypal journey towards the self and the different dimensions of spiritual studentship will be the primary focus. Since this entails a creative and personal process of creating sacred space and time, this course will highlight the many beautiful ways you can do this to deepen your practice, bring focused study, and create an environment of spiritual nourishment.

As yoga is indeed a sacred process, with layers of alignment cultivation, there are a great variety methods. Just mastering a few of these will bring tremendous peace of mind and tranquility. The same process of ‘sanctifying’ our daily yoga practice – with a sense of spiritual intent – is explored and laid out from the perspective of the Iyengar yoga method.


Alignment will likely remind you of the meticulous body-balancing work in Iyengar yoga practice. It also connects to the practice of the moral commandments within eightfold path – the yamas – for spiritual alignment with our fellow human beings. This topic is covered with examples of the indispensable virtues of the practicing yogic. This will highlight the ethical dimension of our yoga practice and path with embodied spirituality. The yogis understood how easy it is for us to get out of kilter and prescribed yogic practice as a kind of re-set mechanism which could be applied in life as well as on the mat.

“Precision in action is yoga. The Lord is precision.” – BKS Iyengar


Themes Of This Course
    1. Intention-setting: traditional invocations and blessings
    • Three forms of opening mantras and invocations
    • Preparing for study of yogic scripture and self-inquiry.
    • Creating sacred space and time for inwardminded study.
    • Svadhyaya-essentials 
    1. The indispensable virtues and inner alignment
    • Faith and other virtues
    • Buddhi sattva: entering the abode of the wisdom mind
    • The Hatha yoga pradipika: six causes of sucssess in Yoga
    • The universal moral commandments: the yamas of the eightfold path 
    1. Immersion in sadhana, mantra practice and self-inquiry practice (smrti sadhana):
    • Invocation to Patanjali (part 1 and 2)
    • Teacher student invocation
    • Auspicious beginnings of sadhana and/or yoga class
    • Preparing for sadhana: the practice of poses of auspiciousness
    • Creating your own sacred time and space

Recorded Lectures:
    1. Alignment with the sacred, the seer, and yogic lineage
    2. Alignment and misalignment: Channeling the river of consciousness

Course #2 – Mind-body Control
Concentration & Precision In Practice
(Included in both the Foundations and Advanced Programs)

In Course 2 we will explore the concept of Mind-Body Control from the perspective of the Iyengar yoga method as well as traditional yogic scripture. To befriend your body and mind is an intuitive skill, yet it requires meticulous technique, precision, and self-study.

The yoga tradition regards attentional training and meditative practice as essential for our well-being and spiritual progress. In Iyengar yoga we know this art and discipline of Dharana (concentration) through precision in asana, or the work with technicalities and points. This method is not only powerful in immediate impact, but likewise viewed as a doorway in. This meditative approach to the poses starts from the first Iyengar yoga class we take; over time it can lead to a radical form of mindfulness and meditation in action.

You’ll also learn about another true gem of the Iyengar method, and how this ties in with the wisdom teachings of the Yoga Sutras. You’ll learn how alignment and work with points and concentration practice are two sides of the same coin, and thus incredibly interconnected. When this art and discipline is cultivated, together with your study, it will facilitate the deepening of your practice as well as an ability to translate this skill in to life.


Starting with the outer focus of the body and its myriad of technicalities does not mean we should forget the final destination of Self-unfolding. Iyengar never did. In this course we’ll explore this creative dance between inner and outer, practice and study. Remember Iyengar’s own words:


In our spiritual quest we are required to develop the body in such a way that it is no longer a hindrance, but becomes our friend. Similarly, our emotions and intellect must be developed for divine purposes.”


Themes Of This Course:
    1. Mind-control in the Bhagavad Gita: could a monkey practice meditation?
    • The practice of wise attention
    1. Immersion in sadhana, mantra practice and self-inquiry (smrti sadhana):
    • Invocation to Patanjali and Samadhi pada (book 1 of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras).
    • Working with the five habitual states of mind in asana practice
    • The five states in action: reflections in teaching asana


Recorded Lectures:
    1. Dhāraṇā: Concentration defined
    2. Concentration practice: Working with the five habits of mind and body
    3. Contemplative sādhanā: Seeking inner anchoring

Course #3 – Holistic Yogic Cleansing 
Sattvification: Steps & Stages Of Purification In Practice
(Included in both the Foundations and Advanced Programs)

In course 3 we’ll focus on the ways which Yoga helps us to cleanse the body, whiling bringing sattvification, balance, and lightness in to our life and practice. Within the Iyengar yoga method we find a strong emphasis on this kind of cleansing and guna transformation built into sequencing in a very elegant manner. As you study this course you will learn about the many ways in which the guna theory can be integrated into Iyengar yoga practice at all levels, in a way that brings about positive change, health and centering. There are many ways in which we can navigate the art of yogic cleansing and daily self- care through the careful planning of asana sequences that, over time, work towards the cultivation of sattva, and thus health.

Coming to the practice of cultivating sattva in practice and life-style, and a solid base in daily niyama (self-discipline) we enter into a different level of practice. To learn to shift your mental and emotional states and moods with the right sequencing is a major skill which you will gain from this study. This course is all about making shifts to your mental and emotional landscape so you can gain a new level of control in how you feel and take charge in life. The Iyengars made an art of this ancient psychological theory, and once you learn the basics there are infinite possibilities in how you can use it in your life.


Themes Of This Course:


    • The psychology of the gunas in the context of the greater tradition.
    • Sloka in focus: the Bhagavad Gita and the three gunas
    • Awakening medicine: working with tamas in asana practice.
    • Yoga as stress reduction and mental shield
    • Immersion in sadhana, mantra practice, and self-inquiry (smrti sadhana)
      • Traditional Vedic prayer for purification: from darkness to light.
      • Gayatri mantra
      • Surya namaskar: the great tamas vitalizer
      • Finding repose in practice: sattva and beyond
      • Emotional and mental alignment: listening to the mood.


Recorded Lectures:

Yoga, The Three Guṇas, & Spiritual Life

Course #4 – Walking The Eightfold Path 
Sequencing & Integration In Practice
(Included in both the Foundations and Advanced Programs)

In this course we’ll focus on the eightfold spiritual path and how it’s connected with our practice. In regards to the living relationship between the eight limbs, we can look at the different practices as steps and stages with one limb following upon the other “just as a ladder is formed of individual rungs, so it is with Patanjali’s yoga – the different aspects of practice build upon each other, forming a sum greater than its parts” (Bechsgaard, 2013). This kind of metaphor of the eight limbs as a ladder or staircase supports an understanding of Yoga as a path of progressive self-cultivation. We will also explore how sequencing and integration in practice is a crucial aspect of Iyengar yoga.

We will explore this holistic approach to yogic sadhana in this course smrti sadhana (reflective practice) as I suggest that you take a period of forty days where you engage consciously with the three elements of kriya Yoga: tapah (a choice of purifying daily self-discipline), svadhyaya (study of scripture, mantra and self-reflective practice) and ishwara pranidhana (devotional practice).


According to BKS Iyengar these three together encompass the eightfold path (asta anga yoga) with its outer, inner, and innermost limbs. These divisions can also be viewed as physical, mental, and spiritual tiers that lead to positive transformation and inner change. It is often true, however, that for many years, we tend to throw ourselves into the fire of yoga as “separate disciplines’ – yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, etc – and then wait for the fire to consume us, as the limbs melt into one another. After all, it is only practice and study that makes us perfect.


Themes Of This Course:


    • The eightfold path: the innermost spiritual quest
    • From the outer to the innermost: bahir anga to antara atma anga
    • Patanjali: history and mythology
    • Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras: context and overview: book 1
    • Classical commentaries
    • The text of the Yoga Sutras and the tradition of commentarial literature
    • Contemporary practitioners, contemporary commentaries
    • Immersion in sadhana, mantra practice and self-inquiry (smrti sadhana):
      • Invocation to Patanjali: part 2
      • Gayatri mantra
      • The three gayatris
      • Kriya yoga in practice
      • Shavasana: an entry into the inner limbs of Iyengar yoga practice
      • Shavasana: the ultimate healer

Recorded Lectures:
    • Foundational practice unveiled: Sūtra 1.13
    • Seasoned practice unveiled: Sūtra 1.14
    • The Eightfold Path and āsana practice

Course #5 – The Soul psychology of Patanjali 
Reincarnation & The Meaning Of Suffering In Yoga
(Only Included In The Advanced Yoga Philosophy Program)

Course content will be explained and laid out during the in-person module course, taught at various studios internationally by Gitte Bechsgaard and Senior Iyengar yoga teacher partners of Vidya Institute International.

Course #6 – The soul psychology of Patanjali 
Karma Doctrine Of India & The Deeper Aspects of The Mind
(Only Included In The Advanced Yoga Philosophy Program)

Course content will be explained and laid out during the in-person module course, taught at various studios internationally by Gitte Bechsgaard and Senior Iyengar yoga teacher partners of Vidya Institute International.


Working On Your Study Materials Is Simple & Intuitive

    1. Once you enroll, you’ll immediately be asked to set your student area password. (If you already have a Vidya Institute Username & Password, you’ll be asked to enter your login details so the program can be added to your student area)
    2. After you’ve finished registering, you’ll immediately gain access to the Vidya Institute Student Area.
    3. Once you’re inside the Student Area, the courses that are included with the program you’ve enrolled in will immediately be loaded and ready for you to get started.
    4. As you make your way through the learning materials, the Student Area will track your study progress so you know which course & sub-modules you last worked on.

If you have any issues or confusions on how to make your way through the course materials, just email [email protected] and we will be happy to help clarify any questions you have.


Yoga Philosophy Foundations Program (4 Courses Included)
Tuition: 350USD

Yoga Philosophy Advanced Program (6 Courses Included)
Fee: 450USD

Upgrade From Foundations To The Advanced Program
(Only For Those Who’ve Already Purchased The Yoga Philosophy Foundations Program)
Fee: 150USD

Frequently Asked Questions

After ordering, you'll be asked to set your password for the student area. You'll be able to go through the course materials, at your own pace, inside the student area. You can log into the student area by visiting the vidya institute website and will be able to study the content over the computer, on your phone, or on your tablet.

Yes. You’ll have the option to download the written portions of the course as a PDF file, which you can print at home and read. The lecture portions of the course contain a button where you can download the MP3 file. You can add the lectures to your iTunes or upload them to your phone.

The long distance programs are designed for you to study and progress at your own pace.

Teachers who’d like to join our Group Leader Partnership will be required to complete the two year Patanjali Yoga sutras course with Senior Iyengar yoga teacher Gitte Bechsgaard and the Senior teachers she is working with. You will also have had to complete the philosophy program yourself first.

The software where we are currently hosting the student area, Skyprep, will only provide you access for a year. We will be moving the student area on-site later this year, so anyone who’s enrolled through Skyprep will be given lifetime access to the course once it is hosted on the soon-to-come new Vidya Institute International website.

In the meantime, we’d encourage you to download and save the course materials to your computer. We’ve made this very easy for you inside the student area. If you have any problems, just send us an email and we will be happy to help.

Please enter your email and the question below and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

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