SRU launches yoga teacher-training program


yoga students

SRU students take part in a recent Yoga Teacher Training Seminar led by Pittsburgh-area yoga teacher Linda Meacci.

July 15, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Family, work and finances - not to mention current affairs - can all contribute to a growing sense of stress and anxiety. And while there are as many stress relief options as there are stressors, one of the most popular forms for blowing off steam and centering oneself continues to be the ancient art of yoga.

In fact, according to the Yoga Alliance, 35 million Americans have tried yoga for its health and stress-reducing benefits, up from 20 million in 2012.

With so many more people taking part in the discipline, the need for qualified instructors continues to grow. Slippery Rock University's departments of dance and physical and health education are doing their part to meet the demand with a 12-credit yoga teacher-training program. The program kicked off July 11 and will prepare graduates for jobs as certified yoga instructors. Ten students comprise the inaugural class.

The 200-hour program, which is open to all SRU students, requires attendees to pass three courses from each of the following categories: basic technique, training and practice; anatomy and physiology; and yoga philosophy, lifestyle and ethics for yoga teachers. Students also take part in a three-week "Yoga Teacher Training Seminar," which includes a written exam and practicum. Linda Meacci, a registered yoga teacher based in Pittsburgh, leads the seminar.

Melissa Teodoro


"This is a very important accomplishment for SRU since very few universities in the U.S. offer a program of this nature," said Melissa Teodoro, associate professor of dance and program coordinator.

Teodoro said she collaborated with Hannah Brewer, assistant professor of public health and social work, to create a new course for the program, "Fundamentals of Yoga." It is offered within the basic technique, training and practice category. Other course options include "Yoga and Dharma in Indian Philosophy," "Wellness for Dancers" and "Dance Kinesiology."

"I incorporate the principals of yoga in my 'Wellness for Dancers' class," Teodoro said. "The students have manifested their interest in wanting to continue their studies of yoga and this is why I developed the training program to offer to SRU students - not only dance majors - as tools to teach yoga before or after they graduate."

Class activities include group discussions, quizzes, essays, journal keeping, research and lesson planning. A final, written exam tests knowledge of posture theory and practice, anatomy, philosophy and ethics.

Once students complete their 200 hours of class training, they will be qualified to register with the Yoga Alliance as registered yoga teachers.

"They will also be grounded in yoga philosophy and ethics," Teodoro said. "They will be able to convey the importance of the practice and how it impacts students on a physical, mental and emotional level."

While there is no consensus on its chronology or specific origin, yoga has its roots in ancient India's ascetic and śramaṇa movements. The practice can be traced back to the sixth and fifth centuries B.C., but didn't gain Western prominence until the 20th century.

"The number of people practicing yoga in this country continues to explode. It's incredible," Meacci said. "When I began teaching in 2004, there were about five yoga studios in the Pittsburgh and surrounding area. Now I hear there are 183. From what I've read, yoga is an $18 billion dollar business in the world."

Meacci added that part of yoga's attraction is that it can serve everyone in some way.

"(Yoga) can be solely a physical practice and that alone is a huge draw in this country," she said. "Many people use a yoga practice and teachings to heal from injuries or diseases. Yoga has strong roots in East Indian culture and philosophy, but many founders believed it would continue to evolve in the entire world."

Meacci said it is possible to earn a living as a yoga instructor, pointing to a 2015 list of the top 100 careers by CNNMoney/PayScale that said "big growth, great pay and satisfying work" is possible for those choosing the field.

"What I tell the teacher trainers is they will eventually want to choose a niche and develop skills around this target audience," she said. "There are plenty of possibly untapped audiences: such as the senior population, special needs students, corporate yoga, in schools and at universities. Opportunities abound right now."

Future sessions of the program will be offered in the fall and spring semesters, with the seminar being offered in summer 2017.

For additional information on the yoga teacher-training program, contact Teodoro at: 724.738.4508 or

MEDIA CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine | 724.738.4854 |