London Yoga Workshops

Yoga Philosophy Talks Part 5: Yoga in the Modern World

with Ruth Westoby


Sat 11 January 2019 | West London Buddhist Centre

London Yoga Workshops: The History and Philosophy of Yoga Part 5: Haṭhayoga, Modern Yoga & Critical Issues


Saturday 11 Jan 2019

1:00pm – 5:30 pm


How much?


Ruth Westoby traces the development of modern yoga wrought from pre-modern haṭhayoga and melded with world trends of physical culture and psychotherapy via the forces empire and globalisation. 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 neoliberalism. 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 space will be opened to discuss our responses. These issues include cultural appropriation and identity politics, gender, lineage structures, abuse and guru-disciple relations, social media and commodification of yoga and the yoga body.

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

For more information about Ruth, visit our Yoga Teacher Training Faculty page.

Special offer!

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.


West London Buddhist Centre
Royal Oak House
45a Porchester Road
London W2 5DP

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