(Photo: Todd Rosenberg)
Bija Bennett is an internationally respected author, speaker, consultant and business leader whose practice focuses on the tenets of mind-body health, a discipline she teaches through the use of accessible and engaging strategies. An innovator and thought-leader in the global wellness world, she has developed pioneering programs for Fortune 500 companies and major medical institutions, and written four influential books and numerous articles on health, healing and personal growth.
Her innovative teachings are derived from ancient yoga traditions used as a form of complementary and integrative medicine that fosters healing. As the National Institutes of Health notes, yoga has been long overlooked as a powerful strategy for wellness in the modern world.
Bija’s underlying goal, and the focus of her consulting work, is to develop programs that help today’s workforce — especially Millennials and students compromised by anxiety and stress — embrace a healthier, happier, more productive life. Her unique approach to promoting wellness stems from a diverse educational background and professional journey.
After earning a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts and Dance from UCLA, where she received a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, Bija traveled to India to study with pioneers in the health, wellness and healing arena, including renowned yoga master T.K.V. Desikachar, son of legendary T. Krishnamacharya, and dance innovator Mrinalini Sarabhai. Her formal training spans decades, from studying yoga therapy and the science of breathing, to meditation, Vedic chanting, Ayurveda and holistic self-care.
As a lifelong learner, Bija is as much an inspired student as an inspirational teacher and continues to study the applications of ancient healing traditions, finding new ways to apply them to today’s complicated, quickly evolving lifestyles.
Yoga has been an important part of the healing traditions Bija uses in her practice as an internationally renowned yoga therapist and workshop leader. She has worked closely with medical doctors and Ayurvedic physicians to treat thousands of patients of every age, ability level and from every walk of life. They have included the chronically ill and physically challenged, youth and seniors, and professional athletes and celebrities including Laura Dern, George Harrison, Barbra Streisand, Donna Karan, Elizabeth Taylor and more.
She counts Deepak Chopra, M.D., a pioneer in mind-body medicine and integrative health, among her colleagues, and taught with him for more than a decade. She earned accolades for her work as a seminar leader with Dr. Chopra in over 50 cities throughout North America and Europe. Venues included the Omega Institute, the Kripalu Center and medical conferences where she was on Chopra’s faculty for training physicians.
Bija promotes an integrated approach to learning, using the technologies of ancient healing models and modern science with a results-oriented focus. Her multi-dimensional approach includes six key principles — self-awareness, mind-body connection, emotional engagement, silence and rest, personalization, and transformation through practice. These concepts not only create the foundation of her advisory work; they serve as the core of everything she does.
Bija has used these principles to develop a range of seminars and programs that help people fight stress, develop character and move to the next level of healing. As program director at the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Health Center for Behavioral Medicine and Stress Management, she created in-residence and outpatient therapy programs for patients. Under her own holistic wellness brand, YogaAway, LLC, she provided programs, products and consulting services to over 3000 hotels worldwide ranging from Hyatt Hotels Corporation to the American Express Fine Hotels Group. Most recently, she has been an advocate of merging healthcare, hospitality and wellness for a project at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago.
Among Bija’s most influential publications is Emotional Yoga: How the Body Can Heal the Mind (Simon & Schuster), an eight-part system of mind-body health published in 11 languages, and her first book, Breathing into Life: Recovering Wholeness through Body, Mind and Breath (HarperCollins), is a poetic manual on using breathing to enhance energy, intelligence, and overall health. Additional published works include The Breathing Breakthrough: Everything You Need to Know to Sharpen Your Focus, Worry Less and Live Longer, and Meditations for the Five Senses.
Her work with Millennials and corporations prompted her most recent book, It Takes a Culture: Building a Wellness Strategy for the Modern, Distracted, Uber-Individualized Workforce. This timely and informative read targets the ever-expanding need for corporate and student wellness programs geared toward reducing stress, improving mental clarity and optimizing emotional and spiritual health.
Bija has appeared regularly at national and international conferences throughout North America and Asia; is a much-lauded faculty resource for the Young Presidents’ Organization; and has been a presenter for the International Spa Association and The Turning Point Conferences. Her fresh, vibrant style — and her unique combination of personal charisma, accessible mind-body techniques, and the ability to charm any audience — speaks strongly to a new generation that is interested in holistic health but wants to hear it expressed in new ways. She is a dynamic representative of thnext step in mind-body health.
"I have seen how transformative Bija's teachings can be. I have watched her work with individuals in a clinical setting as well as with groups at my workshops around the world. She has a profound gift for making the spirit of yoga accessible."
"Exhilarating, refreshing, and rejuvenating, Breathing into Life will liberate you from your old hurts and traumas and release you into the joy of life."
(On Emotional Yoga) "A brilliant design for emotional and spiritual stability. Bija is — very simply put — a powerful, dynamic teacher."
(On Breathing into Life) "Bija's energy comes through on every page. She's a one-of-a-kind genius.
"Emotional Yoga...helps you unlock your deepest potential and takes you to higher states of health and well-being."
"Bija's writings are highly accessible and incorporate an up-to-the-minute synthesis of ancient wisdom and modern science."
"With a fascinating blend of Western artistry and Eastern science, Bija Bennett explains how our breathing, like our emotion, bridges the gulf between body and mind. A useful, poetic manual for enhancing health."
"Bija Bennett has woven an authentic understanding of yogic principles with her creative artistic mastery, making the profound teachings of this ancient tradition available for the modern reader."
"Training both the mind and body is the key to reaching your peak. In Emotional Yoga, Bija takes you to the next fitness level — strengthening your emotional muscles."
"Bija is an original interpreter of the ancient yoga tradition. While remaining true to the spirit of yoga, she renews the tradition, gives it a fresh interpretation, and makes yoga more practical and suitable for the challenges of our time."
"Bennett's approach is credible and appealing, and her book is an inspiring prescription for emotional health."
"Emotional Yoga is unique: I can't call to mind other books devoted to this subject — and so many will find it a useful guide."
"Once in a great while, it happens that I pick up a book and feel my energy respond with a huge 'yes!' My initial contact with this book was such an experience."
"Easily adaptable for the novice or advanced student, Bennett's innovative programs help you move past your emotional blocks and attain higher states of health and well-being."