UNTANGLING TRADITIONS Yoga, Ayurveda and Alchemy 

An online conference by the AyurYog Project.

Yoga, ayurveda and alchemy have historically been considered different disciplinary fields. However, evidence also demonstrates complex interactions and areas of significant overlap. The AyurYog project’s goal has been to reveal the historical entanglements of these fields of knowledge and practice, and to trace the trajectories of their evolution as components of today's global healthcare and personal development industries.

Drawing upon the primary historical sources of each respective discipline as well as on fieldwork data, the research team have explored their shared terminology, practical applications and discourses. The research reveals how past encounters and cross-fertilizations have informed and shaped these bodies of knowledge over time.

These presentations introduce some of the project results and outputs and showcase collaborations with other research projects, scholars and practitioners.

First up in the programme is an introductory interview with Prof. Dagmar Wujastyk, Principal Investigator of AyurYog project. We will be asking Prof. Wujastyk:

What does she consider the most important findings of the entangled histories of Yoga, Āyurveda, and Alchemy?

We'll be discussing:

Did yogins in the medieval period practise medicine?

Did they formulate their own ways of treating ailments?

Were the medicines of Rasaśāstra (alchemy) radically different to those of classical Āyurveda or did they depend upon ayurvedic principles?

We'll also touch on how she hopes to build upon the research completed and what will be the next stage of research in this field.


SUZANNE NEWCOMBE: The institutionalisation of Yoga as medicine in modern India.

Next up in the programme is an interview with Dr Suzanne Newcombe, Post-doctoral Research Fellow on the AyurYog project. Dr Newcombe, author of Yoga in Britain, researches yoga and Indian medicine (Ayurveda) from a sociological and social-historical perspective.

We will discuss:

When did institutionalisation begin in India, and what factors brought it about?

Is institutionalisation responsible for the emphasis on therapy in the globalised forms of modern Yoga?

CHRISTÈLE BAROIS: Yoga and therapy (cikitsā) in the Dharmaputrikā.

The next interview is with Dr. Christèle Barois, Post-doctoral Research Fellow on the AyurYog project. Dr. Barois discusses the Yoga and medicine in the Dharmaputrikā, the "Little Daughter of Dharma." The Dharmaputrikā is an early Yoga manual that includes elaborate descriptions of methods for overcoming obstacles to success in Yoga as well as methods for curing diseases.

ANDREW MASON AND DAGMAR WUJASTYK: The Reconstruction of Indian Alchemy.

Next up in the programme, we are very excited to share the "embodied" philological work of Prof. Dagmar Wujastyk and Andrew Mason. Together, they have reconstructed the procedures of the 'Heart of Mercury' (Rasahṛdayatantra), the earliest of the Sanskrit alchemical works. Prof. Wujastyk has written up her account of this process here.

JASON BIRCH: Premodern Yoga and Alchemy: A Shared History.

Next up in the programme, Dr Jason Birch of the Hatha Yoga Project discusses his research on the topic of Yoga and Ayurveda (Indian medicine) which aims to determine their shared theory and terminology; compare the Indian medical body with the 'yogic' metaphysical body; and provide examples of historical Yogins who claimed to be doctors and healers.



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