Kuṇḍalinī: What have snakes got to do with Yoga? 9 May 2021

WorkshopKuṇḍalinī: What have snakes got to do with Yoga?
Date9 May 2021
HostBritish Wheel of Yoga, Midlands Region

Kuṇḍalinī: What have snakes got to do with Yoga?

One-day online training on the history, practice, and symbolism of kuṇḍalinī, the serpent-like energy of the yogic body

Join Ruth Westoby, scholar-practitioner, for this unique training event on kuṇḍalinī, a key aspect of premodern haṭha yoga, much misunderstood in contemporary yoga. Ruth peels back the layers of Yogi Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga and Carl Jung’s psychological interpretation to situate ideas of kuṇḍalinī in premodern sources on Tantra and Haṭha. Drawing on iconography and textual sources such the Gorakṣaśataka, Yogabīja and Khecarīvidyā Ruth describes kuṇḍalinī and its function in these sources. We will explore why kuṇḍalinī is gendered female when the primordial serpent, Ādiśeṣa, supporting the cosmos, is male. We will ask whether kuṇḍalinī is simply a metaphor imported from preceding world views or whether it has an integral function in the practice of yoga. Finally, we will explore the legacy and practical relevance of the concept of kuṇḍalinī in modern yoga.

Course structure

This training day will be delivered online and broken up into a series of short lectures, break-out group discussions, and whole group reflections and Q&As. In the lecture portions Ruth will summarise key concepts and contextualise them in order to create space for dialogue.

The course will not include practical instructions on working with kuṇḍalinī. Ruth will provide resources to explore in advance of the sessions and extensive resource suggestions for continuing your studies.

Expectations / entry-level

This course is designed for everyone who is curious about yoga. No prior study in the history and philosophy of yoga is required but familiarity will help. James Mallinson and Mark Singleton’s 2017 Roots of Yoga is an excellent book, especially the introductory sections, for the broad outlines of the history of yoga.