Embodied Philosophy

PublicationEmbodied Philosophy
TitleYoga Reconsidered Online Conference
Live Broadcast Date17 February 2018
Live Broadcast Time 9pm (4pm EST)


Friday, February 16th, 2018

  1. 6pm EST: David Gordon White
  2. 8pm EST: Jacqueline Hargreaves

Saturday, February 17th, 2018

  1. 10am EST: Philipp Maas
  2. 12pm EST: Veena Howard
  3. 2pm EST: Mark Singleton
  4. 4pm EST: Ruth Westoby
  5. 6pm EST: James Mallinson
  6. 8pm EST: Debashish Banerji

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

  1. 10am EST: Christopher Key Chapple
  2. 12pm EST: Seth Powell
  3. 2pm EST: Dagmar Wujastyk
  4. 4pm EST: Suzanne Newcombe
  5. 6pm EST: Jason Birch


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.