Centre of Yoga Studies

Amelia Louise Wood

Key information

Department of Religions and Philosophies PhD Research Student
BA in English Literature with Fine Art (University of Leeds)
MA in the Traditions of Yoga and Meditation (SOAS)
Email address
Thesis title
Abuses of Power in Modern Transnational Yoga
Internal Supervisors
Dr Sian Hawthorne


Amelia Wood is a PhD candidate at SOAS researching abuses of power in modern yoga, supervised by Dr. Sian Hawthorne. Case studies include spiritual, financial and sexual abuse in transnational yoga communities from the late 20th century onwards. 

Her work is informed by Lisa Oakley’s definition of Spiritual Abuse and a feminist philosophy of language, how understandings of concepts are created and taken up by society (or not) and the impact this on the way survivors, victims and those who have been harmed by abuse are treated. Amelia completed the MA in the Traditions of Yoga and Meditation in 2015, partially funded by a scholarship from the Phiroz-Mehta Trust. During the MA, her research focus was the roles and representations of women in pre-modern yoga, supervised by Dr. James Mallinson. She received a distinction for her work. 

Amelia is a member, and on the steering committee, of the SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies; convened the summer short course for the Centre of Yoga Studies in 2022, contributed as a tutor for the 2022 and 2021 CYS summer school. Amelia created and recorded an online course for the SOAS Yoga Studies Online platform, ‘Spiritual Abuse in Modern Yoga’, based on her doctoral research. She also independently teaches a course on the history of women in yoga, based on her MA research. Amelia was on the organising committee for the conference Yoga Darsana, Yoga Sadhana: Methods, Migrations, Mediations at the Jagiellonian Institute in Krakow, Poland (2022). Amelia presented two papers: ‘On The Use of The Word ‘Scandal’’ and ‘Intersections: Spiritual Abuse, Sexual Abuse and Modern Yoga’. Amelia also presented papers at the University of Chester conference on Spiritual Abuse (2021), and the Religion and Sexual Abuse Conference at the University of California, Riverside (2022). 

Amelia has contributed an essay to the forthcoming publication, The Yoga Teacher's Survival Guide: social justice, science, politics, and power (edited by Dr. Theo Wildcroft and Harriet McAtee) on the rise of trauma awareness in the yoga industry. She has also contributed two essays to the forthcoming book Yoga Studies in Five Minutes (edited by Dr. Theo Wildcroft and Barbora Sojkova) on the questions of whether yoga teachers are enlightened and who T. Krishnamacharya was. As well as being a yoga studies academic, Amelia teaches yoga and trains yoga teachers. She has delivered courses for a number of organisations including the British Wheel of Yoga, Yoga Scotland and Yogacampus on topics such as power in yoga, concepts of agency, women in yoga, the history and origins of yoga, and trauma-informed practices.

Research interests

Research interests include abuses of power; Spiritual Abuse and how this can be applied to different religious and/or spiritual contexts and the intersection of spiritual and sexual abuse in yoga contexts; the history of modern transnational yoga; the roles and representations of women and the female body in pre-modern and modern yoga; feminist perspective on yoga studies; trauma awareness and trauma-informed practices in yoga pedagogy.

Contact Amelia