The Haṭhapradīpikā is a watershed text in the history of yoga. Compiled around the 15th century it gives an account of the theory and practice of yoga as we understand it today. It enriches classical meditative practices and severe physical mortifications with Tantric ideas. It teaches calming the mind through stabilizing the breath or life-force, prāṇa. It details recommendations for diet, posture, breath work, cleansing techniques, energy locks and visualizations. These transformative technologies generate heat and pressure. They purify liquid to distil the nectar of immortality. The Haṭhapradīpikā describes sublime meditations of dissolving into sound.
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 capitalism. 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 plenty of time will be allocated to discussing them. These include cultural appropriation and identity politics, gender, lineage structures, abuse and guru-disciple relations, social media and commodification of yoga and the yoga body.
This is the fifth and final session in a series of five seminars on the history and philosophy of yoga which can be taken individually or collectively. Whilst each session will build on the material presented in earlier sessions a recap will be given to enable students to attend individual sessions. Each session will open with chanting sections of texts relating to the subjects of study. The lecture will be accompanied with rich visual images. Primary sources, key concepts and further reading suggestions will be given. There will be plenty of time for contemplation and discussion. Whilst there will be sitting practices there will be no postural practice. The best text to accompany these sessions is James Mallinson and Mark Singleton’s Roots of Yoga, published by Penguin in 2017.