A Comprehensive History of Yoga: Research and Scholarship 15 October 2019

TrainingA Comprehensive History of Yoga: Research and Scholarship
Date15 October 2019 for 7 weeks

A Comprehensive History of Yoga: Research and Scholarship

I am the online course facilitator for this exciting online history of yoga course.

In this course pioneers in the world of yoga studies will share their ground-breaking knowledge over seven weeks, through lectures, images and interactive elements. As a way to ensure this course is current and informed by recent research, new content is introduced where possible reflecting the highest authority in contemporary research breakthroughs. Recently, new material has been added from Dr Daniela Bevilacqua who has been carrying out fieldwork among Indian ascetics (sadhus), in an effort to understand how they perceive the practices and goals of yoga. In this coming course, new research from Karen O’Brien-Kop that changes our view of the Yoga Sūtras, and what this means for yoga studies will be introduced on intertextual study of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra (circa 4th century), the classical Indian treatise on yoga, examining the extent to which the soteriological frames of this text overlapped and intersected with contemporaneous Buddhist Yogācāra and Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma texts.

The study of yoga’s history is one of the fastest growing areas of scholarship with fascinating discoveries being made on a regular basis that often challenge traditionally accepted theories of yoga’s history and origins. In this course pioneers in the world of yoga studies will share their ground-breaking knowledge over seven weeks, through lectures, images and interactive elements. You will explore the most contemporary thinking in yoga, as well as less widely studied areas of yoga’s history in an accessible and fun way. Discover the earliest known depiction of a headstand, some esoteric tantric practices, and who is considered the ‘original’ long-haired ascetic. As well as providing a thorough overview of the history of yoga accessible to all, the course also provides an ideal framework for yoga teachers and trainee teachers looking to deepen their knowledge of contemporary studies of yoga history and/or explore specific aspects of that history in greater depth.

Over 7-weeks you will study:

  • What is yoga? How has the meaning of this term developed through the ages?
  • Early sources and references to yoga in images and texts
  • Yoga in the Upanishads and the Mahabharata
  • Recent scholarship on the yoga of Patanjali
  • The yoga practices of the early tantrics
  • Origins and hallmarks of hatha yoga
  • Raja yoga and its relationship with hatha yoga
  • The rise of asana, and the growth of modern postural yoga
  • The interaction of yoga with fitness, religion and politics

This groundbreaking course will also include short interviews with senior teachers of T.K.V. Desikachar, Patthabi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar where they discuss their personal relationships with each teacher, the lineage, as well as how the system has developed in more recent times in the hands of second and third generation teachers. Interviews will include Judith Lasater on learning from B.K.S Iyengar and Navtej Johar on studying with T.K.V. Desikachar to name a few.

The course is linear and structured in its approach, allowing students to explore their own journey of learning on a week-by-week basis, with video lectures supported by images to consider and texts to read – some of which have not previously been widely available in English translation. You can study at a level and depth suitable to you – preliminary and additional reading material is available. You will receive links to each week’s video lectures and supporting materials on Monday, and can listen to those lectures whenever and as often as you wish. To help assimilate and reflect on the information learned each week, there will be a short quiz and weekly reflection topic, as well as an active discussion forum moderated by Ruth Westoby; a leading yoga teacher and academic. Students will have 1 week to complete the requirements for each module before being able to move on to the next module as a way to ensure that the whole group begins and ends the training at the same time.

The course is delivered by top yoga academics, scholars and practitioners who between them represent the cutting edge of knowledge in the field of yoga history.