Jason Birch – The Amaraugha: The Genesis of Haṭha and Rājayoga

Key information

7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
SOAS University of London
Khalili Lecture Theatre (Hybrid)

About this event

SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies is pleased to host a book launch of The Amaraugha and the Amaraughaprabodha of Gorakṣanātha: The Genesis of Hatha and Rajayoga by Jason Birch (University of Oxford).

This book introduces, critically edits, and translates one of the earliest texts of the Haṭhayoga tradition, namely the Amaraugha of Gorakṣanātha. In this talk, Dr Birch will discuss the historical importance of the Amaraugha (12th century), the earliest known work to teach a paradigm that combined Haṭha and Rājayoga. These two yogas represent the basic dichotomy of physical and mental praxis that became a salient feature of medieval yoga traditions and is still something of a touchstone for many practitioners of modern yoga. 

A close reading of certain passages reveals how physical methods of yoga from a tantric Buddhist tradition were adapted for Śaivas and shifted the emphasis from celibacy to moving kuṇḍalinī

The Amaraugha was one of the main sources of the Haṭhapradīpikā, which created a template for Haṭhayoga that was widely accepted after the fifteenth century. By looking through the lens of the Haṭhapradīpikā, it is possible to see how the practice of Haṭhayoga evolved after the Amaraugha, and to appreciate the contribution of this early work to traditions of Haṭhayoga in the early modern period.

The book will be of interest to scholars, students, and practitioners of yoga alike.

Dr Matthew Clark (SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies) will respond and explore the academic significance of this publication.


Jason Birch was awarded his doctorate at the University of Oxford and is a Senior Research Fellow of the Light on Hatha project, hosted at University of Oxford and the University of Marburg. He is co-Director of the Yogacintāmaṇi project at the University of Massachusetts Boston and an Associate Researcher of the Suśruta project at the University of Alberta.

He has published numerous articles in academic journals on the history of Haṭha and Rājayoga, and co-authored a book on plastic surgery in the Nepalese version of the Suśrutasaṃhitā.

From 2015 to 2020, he was a Post-doctoral Research Fellow of the ERC-funded Haṭha Yoga Project at SOAS University of London. He is a founding member of the SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies and the peer-reviewed Journal of Yoga Studies.


Since 2004, Dr. Matthew Clark has been a Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, University of London), where he taught courses on Hinduism between 1999 and 2004. He has spent many years in India, which he first visited in 1977, visiting nearly all important (several hundred) pilgrimage sites and trekking around 2,000 miles in the Himalayas. He first engaged with yoga in the mid-1970s and began regularly practising Ashtanga Yoga in 1990. Since 2006, Matthew has been lecturing worldwide on yoga, philosophy and psychedelics. He is currently the managing editor of the Journal of Yoga Studies and is one of the administrators of the SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies.