About the Conference
A movement is afoot within the yoga and scholarly communities to clarify the historical backdrop of yogic practice.
For the duration of yoga’s contemporary popularity, ambiguous and oftentimes mythological narratives have occluded a clear and coherent understanding of yoga’s history, due in part to a lack of access to many of yoga’s root texts and scriptures.
Initiatives like the University of London’s “Hatha Yoga Project” and the websites like “Modern Yoga Research” are contributing to a radical sea change in what we know and how we understand the historical foundations of hatha yoga. In what centuries do we first see the emergence of yogic postures? For what objectives were these postures originally intended? What other yogic practices existed alongside hatha yoga posture that have since been widely forgotten?
This online conference seeks to highlight contemporary yoga research in an effort to clarify and demystify the historical underpinnings of modern yoga. More than simply giving an account of what we now know and still don’t know, this conference seeks to ask the question: so what?
What does a more sophisticated historical perspective do to contemporary yoga practice, if anything at all? In what ways is our experience as yoga and meditation scholar-practitioners augmented by this deeper knowledge? What epistemological questions arise when the historical narrative that aligns with a particular school or lineage stream conflicts with objectivist accounts of the academy?
This conference seeks to educate all those who are interested in yoga by challenging our given mythologies about what yoga is and where it comes from. This conference doesn’t seek to simply dismantle mythologies but to reimagine them — to dissolve the lenses of illusion in the service of a more expansive understanding of what yoga is here to teach us.