Berlin: Embodying yoga philosophy: unpacking knowledge and movement 30 Nov – 1 Dec 2019

WorkshopEmbodying yoga philosophy: unpacking knowledge and movement
Dates30 November and 1 December 2019
HostKoryo, Berlin
*NoteThis workshop had to be cancelled at short notice. Apologies to all who had booked

Embodying yoga philosophy: unpacking knowledge and movement

Embodying yoga philosophy: unpacking knowledge and movement

Host: The workshop will be kindly hosted by Koryo Gym, Weichselstr. 8c (Access also from Fuldastr. 55 – 56), 12045 Berlin (;


Session 1: Embodying philosophies
Saturday 30 November 2019
Time 17.00 – 19.00

This session will explore perspectives on yoga philosophy with two objectives: to unpack the teachings and to unpack the perspectives. Philosophical standpoints on yoga are perspectives or viewpoints (darśanas) concerning our being in the world, which are thought to reveal insight or truth. Our perspective on the world is coloured by the lenses through which we look, lenses determined by culture, time, space, language and gender.

In this session we will explore ideas of positionality and perspective to try to be aware of our own assumptions. We will then survey Indian philosophical systems (darśanas) and explore case studies that relate to our existence in the world according to various religious traditions, as well as textual sources, e.g. Buddhism, the Bhagavad Gītā, and more. We will try to bring these ancient teachings and our own perspectives into play to look at what yoga is for us now.

Session 2: Modes of moving
Sunday 1 December
Time 10.00 – 12.30

This practice-oriented session explores different modalities of Ashtanga yoga. The session will deconstruct the practice, teaching, and history of sun salutations or sūrya namaskāra. Ruth will lead a practice with a variety of teaching approaches: detailed verbalisations of technique, traditional Sanskrit count, and self-practice. The session will include considerations of accessibility and consent and be pitched to welcome both newer students and those with more experience. We will take time to reflect on the felt experience of different modes of practice and teaching.

Session 3: Possibilities for thinking and practising yoga
Sunday 1 December
14.00 – 16.30

This session traces the development of modern yoga wrought from pre-modern haṭhayoga and melded with world trends of physical culture and psychotherapy via the forces of 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.

Biography: 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 and refer also to: Ruth is researching 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

Participation Fee: 80 (55*) Euros for the all sessions; 30 (20*) for each session

Enrolment and Payment: Please book your spot in good time by writing to Your place is reserved only upon payment of the participation fee. Online payment at: For other payment options please contact

*Reduced prices for students, low-income, unemployed

Note: No-one should be excluded from knowledge due to lack of funding. If you cannot afford to pay the price above, please get in touch and we will do our best to accommodate you according to your means, possibly asking you to contribute in other form (e.g. help, snacks, etc.), if you are able to. Please be mindful in advancing such requests: the workshop is not held for profit, yet we need to make sure that travel expenses are covered, as well as that our venue hosts and teacher’s workload are fairly remunerated for their support and work, hence we need to reach a minimum of paying participants. We thank you in advance for your kind understanding.

Technicalities: Please bring your own yoga mat if possible. A limited number of mats might be available, but please do let us know in advance if you need one.