Friday, February 16th, 2018
Saturday, February 17th, 2018
Sunday, February 18th, 2018
THE ESOTERIC FEMININE IN HAṬHAYOGA SOURCES
In this talk I will map the esoteric feminine aspect of the yogic body. Taking a textual, historical and anecdotal approach, I will explore how the yogic body is presented in gendered terms, probe the substances or concepts that are to be influenced, and trace the metaphorical maps for manipulating the yogic body.
Haṭhayoga texts are written by men, for men, about men. They display a caution, bordering on prejudice, towards women and tend to dissect and objectify the female form. There are some references to female practitioners and practices for women, and the use of women in ritual contexts. Despite the scant evidence of women practitioners there is a strong theme of accessing and manipulating female energy for soteriological – spiritually transformative – ends. The yogic body is conceived as concepts or substances which are male and female such as bindu and rajas, śiva and śakti. The metaphors developed to describe and map how these constructs can be manipulated include the female serpent energy, Kuṇḍalinī.
An inquiry into the gendering of the yogic body draws into focus an ambivalence towards desire and reflects on ideals of soteriology and realities of social status in pre-modern India.