The History and Philosophy of Yoga Part 4: Vedānta and Tantra
with Ruth Westoby
Saturday 1st December 2018
1:00pm – 5:30pm
Vedānta draws on the Upaniṣads and the Gītā and has become the philosophie par excellence of India. Śaṅkara, the principle teacher of Advaita Vedānta, presented a monistic system at variance with the dualism of Sāṃkhya. Subsequent Vedāntic teachers developed and further popularised these ideas, reinterpreting classical yoga along Vedāntic lines. An appreciation of Vedānta is key to understanding the history of yoga.
Tantra is a complex array of schools, texts and practices developing from the 6th and 7th centuries CE. It builds on metaphysics of both Sāṃkhya and Vedānta and develops elaborate embodied ritual practices and paradigms (Kuṇḍalinī and the yogic body) which become the foundation of later yoga practices. As the scholar Biardeau notes, Tantra is ‘an attempt to place… desire, in every meaning of the word, in the service of liberation… not to sacrifice this world for liberation’s sake, but to reinstate it, in varying ways, within the perspective of salvation.’
This is the fourth in a series of five seminars on the history and philosophy of yoga which can be taken individually or collectively.Whilst each session will build on the material presented in earlier sessions a recap will be given to enable students to attend individual sessions. Each session will open with chanting sections of texts relating to the subjects of study. The lecture will be accompanied with rich visual images. Primary sources, key concepts and further reading suggestions will be given. There will be plenty of time for contemplation and discussion. Whilst there will be sitting practices there will be no postural practice. The best text to accompany these sessions is James Mallinson and Mark Singleton’s Roots of Yoga, published by Penguin in 2017.
Ruth is fascinated by yoga both in academia and practice. She is a doctoral researcher in yoga and an Ashtanga practitioner. Ruth began exploring yoga practices twenty-two years ago and has taught for over thirteen. She teaches history and philosophy on workshops and yoga teacher trainings.
The teachers who have been most influential for Ruth are Hamish Hendry, Richard Freeman and Sharat Jois. Ruth was awarded an MA in Indian Religions from SOAS in 2010 with distinction since when she has been studying Sanskrit. Ruth collaborated with SOAS’s Haṭha Yoga Project interpreting postures from the 19th century Sanskrit text the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati which will be released as a documentary in 2019. She is currently working on doctoral research into gendered constructions in haṭha yoga at SOAS under the supervision of James Mallinson. Ruth helps coordinate the Sanskrit Reading Room and SOAS’s Centre of Yoga Studies. For more information about Ruth, visit our Yoga Teacher Training Faculty page.
You can either book just this event using the form below, or you can book parts 1-5 together for the discounted price of £125. Click here to book parts 1-5.