Monday, 31 December 2018

2018, A Year to Remember


/ MAHARAJA'S SANSKRIT COLLEGE MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY, MYSORE

/ MAHARAJA'S SANSKRIT COLLEGE MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY, MYSORE

/ MAHARAJA'S SANSKRIT COLLEGE MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY, MYSORE


It has been a jam-packed year, the busiest yet for The Luminescent.

2018 was definitely the year of unrelenting fieldwork for us. We visited government and university libraries, private collections, temples, palaces and museums in at least half a dozen states of India as well as other countries, such as Bhutan, Japan, Austria, France, Czech Republic, Canada, Italy, Australia and Britain. We also attended conferences, gave talks and facilitated reading (and practice) workshops in most of these countries. We feel very lucky to be at the leading edge of the emerging field of academic study into Yoga.

Every day of 2018 was spent on the road, sleeping in all sorts of conditions (some comfortable, some not so) and moving from week-to-week (sometimes, day-to-day) carrying our few worldly belongings on our back. 

Despite our endurance for nomadic ways and having our spirits elevated by several significant research successes, the itinerant life has certainly taken its toll on our wellbeing. So, we do hope to settle in one place for 2019 to rejuvenate and, most importantly, write up some of our findings.

Our TOP FIVE research achievements for 2018:


1. Yoga and Āyurveda |  It was in early April 2018 that the efforts of our time spent in Vienna as part of the AyurYog Project were officially put into print. The peer-reviewed article “Premodern Yoga Traditions and Ayurveda: Preliminary Remarks on Shared Terminology, Theory and Praxis” was published in the open-access journal, History of Science in South Asia. This article discusses the relevant theory (digestive fire, humoral theory, vital points, herbs) and praxis (āsana, ṣaṭkarma and therapy or cikitsā) of the Yoga texts in question in order to assess the possible influence of Āyurveda. 

2. Amaraughaprabodha | The earliest text to teach Haṭha Yoga |  In April, we traveled to Kyoto, Japan, to participate in RINDAS 2018: Traditional Indian Thought. Dr Jason Birch presented new manuscript evidence in his paper “The Amaraughaprabodha: Awakening with Buddhist and Śaiva Nectars.” These research findings have revealed that a short version of the Amaraughaprabodha was probably one of the earliest texts to teach Haṭhayoga. It is also evident that the author of the Amaraughaprabodha created Haṭhayoga from the yoga of the Amṛtasiddhi, which is a Vajrayāna work composed sometime before the mid-twelfth century. A forthcoming article by Birch on this topic is due for publication in 2019.

3. JoYS |  On the 1st May, we officially launched the Journal of Yoga Studies with preview events held (almost) simultaneously in Kyoto, London and Delhi. The creation of this peer-reviewed open-access academic journal, led by Dr Elizabeth de Michelis, has been a few years in the making. The journal hopes to spearhead the dissemination of research findings of this emerging field of study and the first two articles were certainly a taste for the quality and rigour of the publication. We are equally excited about the forthcoming contributions due for publication in 2019. Stay tuned.

4. Haṭhābhyāsapaddhatī | A Precursor of Modern Yoga |  It was during the 17th World Sanskrit Conference, which was held at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver) in July 2018, that we were able to offer a preview of our efforts to reconstruct the 112 āsanas of the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati. We were extremely pleased with the reception it received by our learned audience, with some remarking “it is a groundbreaking form of outreach for this type of philological research.” We very much look forward to sharing the fruits of this exciting project in late-2019.

5. The Vienna Volume |  The much anticipated Yoga in Transformation: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives was published by the University of Vienna in September 2018. This outstanding collection of articles covers the breadth of academic studies on Yoga and includes papers from world leading scholars in this field. It is the culmination of many years of collaborative research and editorial work, and documents the proceedings of papers that were presented during the conference (convened under the same name) at the University of Vienna in 2013.

Biggest impact story of the year:

Our most widely read story for this year was “A Culture of Silence: Satyananda Yoga”, co-authored by Jacqueline Hargreaves and Dr Josna Pankhania. Although it was officially publish in late-Dec 2017, the significance of this collaborative work has had lasting repercussions, impacting international industry standards (e.g., Yoga Alliance) as well as grievance policies and codes of conduct (i.e., Yoga Australia).

Contributors:

It was in 2018 that we broadened our contributions to include articles from up-and-coming academics Laura von Ostrowski, with her interesting piece on “Boris Sacharow: Germany’s first Haṭhayoga Teacher” and Seth Powell, with his well-researched contribution on “The Ancient Yoga Strap: A Brief History of the Yogapaṭṭa.” We look forward to sourcing more contributions from academics and the research community in 2019. It is through these efforts that we hope to continue to fulfil our vision as an independent, high-quality source of original research, news and discourse for the Yoga community.

Charity Fund Raisers:

The generosity of our readers enabled us to successfully support two GoFundMe campaigns in 2018. Firstly, we financed the purchase of much needed yoga equipment for the school children in Khed, Maharashtra (India). And, more recently, we have reached our target to send their inspiring Yoga teacher, Mangesh Khophar, on a fully-funded certified teacher training with Yoga Synergy.

2019, fingers-crossed!


Well, that’s the re-cap for 2018 and it only seems fitting to build some anticipation for what we hope will be an important year ahead. 

We are very excited to be collaborating with the AyurYog Project once again. This time to construct a web-based visual and textual timeline for premodern Ayurveda and Yoga. There is also the translation of Christian Bouy’s book in the pipeline. There will be the official launch of the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhatī reconstruction project towards the end of 2019 (as we still have some important research findings to document in this regard). Several forthcoming publications, the first of the critical editions and translations of Haṭha Yoga Project, and more. Also, we’ll be expanding to include online trainings, exclusively designed ethical products and printed volumes. Phew!

Thank you so much to our colleagues, patreon supporters and followers. 

You have put some rice in our bowls this year and kept us nourished.


HAPPY NEW YEAR from us!

Jacqui & Jason
of The Luminescent




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