Yoga Philosophy Talks Part 2: Philosophical Treaties
with Ruth Westoby
Saturday 16 Nov 2019
1:00pm – 5:30 pm
Ruth Westoby presents “Philosophical Treaties”, a focus on the key philosophical doctrines that underpin the practice of yoga. Ruth will present an overview of the schools of Indian philosophy and theology (darśanas) before examining in more detail those schools vital to an understanding of yoga: Sāṃkhya, Vedānta, early and Mahāyāna Buddhism. Sāṃkhya is the school most closely associated with the Pātañjalayogaśāstra and presents a dualistic metaphysics of the individual in the world. The world and our experience of it are set out as categories interwoven with the guṇas or strands of material nature or experience. Sāṃkhya teaches that this world exists to set us, experienced as pure consciousness, free. Vedānta has become the philosophie par excellence of India and the lens through which yoga is seen. Śaṅkara, the principle teacher of Advaita Vedānta, presented a monistic system at variance with the dualism of Sāṃkhya. Subsequent Vedānta teachers developed and further popularised these ideas, reinterpreting classical yoga along Vedāntic lines.Buddhist teachings are closely woven into the fabric of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra. This overview of the history and doctrines of Buddhism focuses on Early Buddhism and Mahāyāna Buddhism to present the intertwined relationship between yoga and Buddhism from its inception, development, and modern integration with mindfulness practice.
Individual sessions can be taken as standalone units or the course can be taken as a whole. Whilst each session will build on the material presented in earlier sessions a recap will be given to enable students to attend individual sessions. Some sessions 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 Westoby is a doctoral researcher in yoga and an Ashtanga practitioner. Alongside practice and research Ruth runs workshops and teaches on some of the principle teacher training programmes in the UK. Ruth’s current teaching projects include facilitating Yoga Campus’s online course A Comprehensive History of Yoga. Ruth helps coordinate the SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies, has taught on the SOAS Yoga Summer School, helped coordinate the Sanskrit Reading Room and convened a study group on yoga and gender at SOAS to share the work of new and leading researchers in the field. Ruth collaborated in 2016 and 2017 with SOAS’s Hatha Yoga Project interpreting postures from a precursor of modern yoga, the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati. Ruth began to explore yoga practices in 1996 and started teaching postural yoga in 2004. In 2010 she received an MA in Indian Religions from SOAS with Distinction.
The most influential teachers on Ruth’s practice have been Hamish Hendry, Richard Freeman and Sharat Jois. In 2015 she was authorized by Sharat to teach Ashtanga level 2. Ruth does not practice at studios which display images of Pattabhi Jois on altars in solidarity with those who were sexually abused by him. For resources and dialogue on this please contact Ruth directly.
Ruth is researching part-time for a doctoral thesis on constructions of gender in Sanskrit texts on haṭhayoga at SOAS under the supervision of James Mallinson. To this end she continues to study Sanskrit.For writings, films and workshops please see www.enigmatic.yoga.
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 £100. Click here to book parts 1-5.