Manuscript Hunting and the History of Medieval Yogas

In this podcast, Dr. Jason Birch (SOAS, University of London) speaks about his early training in yoga and Indology, the late 90's and early 2000s yoga scene in Rishikesh, Sanskrit manuscript hunting in India, his Oxford thesis on the Amanaska (the earliest known Rājayoga text, dated 11th century),  Rāja Yoga traditions, the history of āsana, the significance of the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati, Krishnamacharya and the legendary "Yoga Koruṇṭa", embodied philology, and more. 

 Jason Birch (DPhil, Oxon) podcast with Yogic Studies

The Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati: A Precursor of Modern Yoga

About this Event

The Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati is a Sanskrit text on the practice of Haṭhayoga, probably composed in the eighteenth century in Maharashtra. Its most remarkable feature is the section on āsana (yogic posture), which contains six groups of poses, many of which are unusual or unique among yoga texts. Also unique is that the postures appear to be arranged into sequences intended to be practised in order. It is likely that the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati was known to the most influential teacher of modern postural yoga, T. Krishnamacharya, and therefore has a special significance for contemporary yoga practice.

In this presentation, Jason Birch, Jacqueline Hargreaves and Mark Singleton discuss the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati, its importance for our understanding of yoga history, and the making of a film based on its groups of āsanas.

Date And Time

Thu, 30 January 2020
19:30 – 21:00 GMT


Alumni Lecture Theatre
SOAS University of London

Booking through SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies.

Zen 2.0, The Second Annual Global Mindfulness Forum

Jacqueline Hargreaves (of The Luminescent) contributed to Zen 2.0 in the Heart of Japanese Zen, Kamakura, Japan. Please enjoy this brief video that captures very well the authentic joy that arose at the Second Annual Global Mindfulness Forum, 2018.

What is Yoga?

Scholar Symposium
Panelists Jason Birch, James Mallinson, Suzanne Newcombe, Richard Rosen, Mark Singleton
Hosted by:
triyoga, SOHO
23rd September 2018 (Sunday) at 14:30pm - 6:30pm
triyoga, SOHO

Read more & listen here.

What is Haṭha Yoga?

A panel discussion with the Haṭha Yoga Project Team Members.
Hosted by:
SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies
27th September 2018 (Thursday) at 6pm - 8:30pm
Khalili Lecture Theatre (KLT), SOAS University of London, WC1H 0XG

Read more & listen here.

The Amaraughaprabodha

Dr Jason Birch
SOAS University of London (Haṭha Yoga Project)
Hosted by:
Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde
University of Vienna, Austria
15th June 2018 (Friday) at 3:15pm - 4:45pm
Campus der Universität Wien, Seminarraum 1 des ISTB, Spitalgasse 2, Hof 2.7, 1090 Wien

History of Haṭhayoga from 15-18th centuries

Dr Jason Birch
SOAS University of London (Haṭha Yoga Project)
Hosted by:
Oriental Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in collaboration with Institute of Southern and Central Asia, Faculty of Philosophy
Charles University, Czech Republic
26th June 2018 (Tuesday) at 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Charles University, Celetná 20, Room 427

Revisiting Yoga and its History

A podcast with Dr Jason Birch on the programme Hacking the Self.
26th May, 2018

We are very pleased to offer open-access to this Podcast hosted by 'Hacking the Self' with Dr Jason Birch, which was recorded during our brief visit to Japan, 2018. The discussion covers topics such as:
  1. The āsana practice in the eighteenth-century Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati and its link to Kṛṣṇamācārya
  2. Is modern yoga modern?
  3. The Buddhist and Śaiva influence on early Haṭhayoga.
  4. The emergence of Haṭha and Rājayoga from older Tantric and ascetic traditions.
  5. The importance of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra in modern yoga and the integration of physical yoga with Brahmanical traditions.
  6. The reinterpretation of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra by philosophers of Vedānta, householders and contemporary yoga practitioners.
  7. The benefits of secular scholarship on Yoga.
  8. Recommendations on primary and secondary sources of study.
Listen here.

Cultural (Mis)appropriation in Yoga

A Teachers Symposium

triyoga Camden in London
9th September, 2017

This Teachers Symposium offered a lively discussion on the difficult to navigate topic of Cultural Appropriation in Yoga

The panelists:
Sally Kempton, a yoga and meditation teacher from the U.S. with more than 20 years experience as a teaching swami in the Saraswati order of Indian monks. 
Max Strom, an American wellness teacher and creator of Inner Axis, an interdisciplinary method that he does not call yoga even as he teaches its postures and breath practices. 
Jason Birch, a post-doctoral research fellow at SOAS University of London. His area of research is in the medieval yoga traditions of India. He is critically editing and translating six Haṭhayoga texts for a 5-year ERC-funded research project. 
Satish K Sharma, the General Secretary of the National Council of Hindu Temples (UK) and Chairman of the British Board of Hindu Scholars, who is concerned that those with little scriptural knowledge are recasting the sacred practices of yoga. 
Stacie CC Graham, founder of OYA Retreats which delivers holistic movement and mindfulness practice to Black women and women of colour. 
An audio recording of the event is available below.

Listen here.

Sanskrit Texts on Yoga

A Manuscript Workshop by the Haṭha Yoga Project

SOAS, University of London and All Souls College, University of Oxford
12th-16th September, 2016

This is a very small window into the great work being done by the Haṭha Yoga Project, particularly on the reading of Sanskrit manuscripts on Yoga. It features Prof. Alexis Sanderson and  other luminaries in the field of Yoga, Śaivism, and Sanskrit Philology. This is a very rich offering with a film taster, photos, audio recordings, handouts.... in fact, too much to highlight. The full programme of presentations are available.


The audio recording of the presentation on the 18th century Haṭhābyāsapaddhiti by Dr Jason Birch and Dr Mark Singleton is available below.

Sanskrit Reading Room

SOAS University of London

A fortnightly reading forum for budding Sanskritists to improve their Sanskrit language skills and be up to date with current Indological research. Participation is open to all students of Sanskrit, at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, from UK institutions of higher education.

Find more details visit the Sanskrit Reading Room website.

AyurYog Workshop: Rejuvenation, Longevity, Immortality

Perspectives on rasāyana, kāyakalpa and bcud len practices.

Institute for South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, University of Vienna
21st - 22nd October, 2016

The two-day workshop explored the historically linked South and Inner Asian practices of rasāyana, kāyakalpa and bcud len. These are practices, treatment techniques and formulations aimed at a variety of goals that range from prolonging life, restoring youthfulness, and promoting physical health, to accessing special powers, achieving enlightenment, and attaining immortality. Read a summary of this fascinating conference here

All of the talks are available for viewing on the AyurYog Youtube channel.

Yoga Darśana, Yoga Sādhana: Traditions, Transmissions, Transformation

Uniwersytet Jagiellonski, Krakow
19th - 21st May, 2016

Keynote Session featuring Dr James Mallinson and Dr Jason Birch at the international academic conference Yoga Darśana, Yoga Sādhana: Traditions, Transmissions, Transformations.

Yoga: Austerity, Passion and Peace

The British Museum
Friday 8 April 2016, 18.30 – 20.00

This interdisciplinary panel of experts will examine yoga from ancient Indic times to the present, with reference to the modern quest for authentic spiritual communion with the divine, both from an Indian perspective and a global one.

Chaired by independent scholar and founding director of Calm Energy Yoga Hilary Lewis Ruttley, panellists include Dr Jason Birch of The Haṭha Yoga Project at SOAS, novelist, journalist and award-winning BBC broadcaster Jameela Siddiqi, and Sunil Khilnani, Avantha Professor and Director, King’s India Institute.

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