Roots of Yoga


One of the most interesting and exciting developments currently going on in the world of yoga is the amount of serious academic research being done into the murky origins of our contemporary yoga practice. Take this posture for example:

This posture is known as śvottanāsana, or ‘up-turned dog pose’, but nothing like the upward dogs we see in most 21st century yoga classes. It is described in a text from the 17th/early 18th century called the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati, a text which describes 112 yoga postures, many very different to those we know today, and an important link in the chain of understanding the origins of modern postural practice.

The Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati is being studied and translated by Oxford scholar Dr Jason Birch who, together with Dr Jim Mallinson of SOAS, University of London and Dr Mark Singleton, has recently received a major research grant to study the history of haṭha yoga and some of its hitherto untranslated texts. Mallinson and Singleton are also the authors of an exciting new book Roots of Yoga, due to be published by Penguin in early 2016. Yogacampus is delighted to have been one of the funders of the original research which led to this book.

(Picture from a later text called the Śrītattvanidhi.)