The History and Philosophy of Yoga Part 5:
Haṭhayoga, Modern Yoga and Critical issues
with Ruth Westoby
Saturday 12th January 2019
1:00pm – 5:30pm
The Haṭhapradīpikā is a watershed text in the history of yoga. Compiled around the 15th century it gives an account of the theory and practice of yoga as we understand it today. It enriches classical meditative practices and severe physical mortifications with Tantric ideas. It teaches calming the mind through stabilizing the breath or life-force, prāṇa. It details recommendations for diet, posture, breath work, cleansing techniques, energy locks and visualizations. These transformative technologies generate heat and pressure. They purify liquid to distil the nectar of immortality. The Haṭhapradīpikā describes sublime meditations of dissolving into sound.
Modern Yoga is the posture focused form that has developed in the last two hundred years through interactions with globalisation, colonialism, Indian nationalism, Western Esotericism and capitalism. This session will explore the many influences on modern yoga, and the many modern yogas.
Some of the critical issues at play in contemporary yoga will be outlined and plenty of time will be allocated to discussing them. These include cultural appropriation and identity politics, gender, lineage structures, abuse and guru-disciple relations, social media and commodification of yoga and the yoga body.
This is the fifth and final session 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.