The Institute for Saiva and Tantric Studies will present a lecture by Dr. Jason Birch on Friday, July 27. Jason is part of the London-based team working on the Hatha Yoga Project, a five year study of the historical roots of Hatha Yoga. He'll introduce the work being done by the Hatha Yoga Project and discuss his own work on the history of Rāja and Haṭhayoga from the 15th through the 18th century.
As part of his presentation, he will show segments of film footage of a reconstruction of an eighteenth-century āsana practice from one of the manuscripts, the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati, which the Haṭha Yoga Project team based in London is editing and translating. The Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati is a practice manual and extends our knowledge of Haṭhayoga in India prior to the onset of British colonialism as it locates moving and strenuous āsanas within a premodern tradition. Another striking innovation is the categorization of āsanas in sequences.
About Dr. Jason Birch
Dr. Jason Birch obtained a DPhil in Oriental Studies at Balliol College, University of Oxford, under the supervision of Prof. Alexis Sanderson, All Souls College. His dissertation (submitted 2013) focused on the earliest known Rājayoga text called the Amanaska and included a critical edition and annotated translation of this Sanskrit work along with a monographic introduction which examines the influence of earlier Śaiva tantric traditions on the Amanaska as well as the significance of the Amanaska in more recent yoga traditions.
In 2014 Jason was a research fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and a visiting associate professor at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. In 2015 he was invited to research the histories of yoga, āyurveda and rasaśāstra as a visiting post-doctoral fellow on a project called Ayuryog at the University of Vienna. He is currently a post-doctoral research fellow at SOAS University of London on the Haṭha Yoga Project, which has been funded for five years by the European Research Council. His area of research is the history of physical yoga on the eve of colonialism. He is editing and translating six texts on Haṭha and Rājayoga, which are outputs of the project, and supervising the work of two research assistants at the Ecole française d’ Extrême-Orient, Pondicherry.