"The Philosophy of the Yoga Sutra: An Introduction." A book launch with Karen O'Brien-Kop.

Key information

6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
SOAS University of London
Brunei Gallery, Room 103B

About this event

SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies is pleased to host a book launch and panel discussion on the recently published, The Philosophy of the Yoga Sutra: An Introduction by Karen O'Brien-Kop (SOAS Alumni).

Part of the Bloombury Introductions to World Philosophies series, Karen O'Brien-Kop's introduction to the Yogasūtra highlights its status as a significant work of philosophy. Approaching the Yogasūtra as living philosophy, this book elucidates philosophical conceptions of yoga, recognises the logical structure the sutras follow and explains the rules and principles that have sustained Patañjali's system of thought for centuries.

In the book launch for The Philosophy of the Yoga Sutra: An Introduction, Dr O’Brien-Kop discusses the place of this title in the Bloomsbury Introduction to World Philosophies series. Why should Patañjali’s Yogasūtra be studied as a philosophical text, using the tools of South Asian śāstra? What academic contributions can it make to how we teach global philosophies? And which integral features of the Yogasūtra determine its status as a philosophical text? 

As well as spiritual liberation, metaphysics, ontology, ethics and epistemology, the sūtra text has much to teach on reasoning, argumentation, aesthetics, and philosophy of language. Indeed, the scope of philosophical topics is formidable given the brevity of the text. While its conciseness has contributed to the success of the Yogasūtra's transmission and translation over the ages, its succinctness has also created a barrier of sorts to accessing the breadth and depth of ideas in the text. 

This talk and discussion with respondent, Dr Jessica Frazier (University of Oxford), will explore what may be gained by amplifying the Yogasūtra's status as a major work of global philosophy.

Please note that this is an in-person only event.


Dr Karen O'Brien-Kop is a lecturer in Asian Religions at King's College London. She researches early South and Central Asian Sanskrit texts and culture on meditation, philosophy of mind, and mind-body practices – in particular exploring the interconnections of Hinduism and Buddhism.

Her books include Rethinking "Classical Yoga": Meditation, Metaphor, Materiality and, along with Dr Suzanne Newcombe, she co-edited the Routledge Handbook of Yoga and Meditation Studies. She is co-convenor of the Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions and a co-editor at the Religions of South Asia journal.


Dr Jessica Frazier is Lecturer in the Study of Religion at Trinity College, University of Oxford, teaching on Hinduism and theories of religion for the Theology and Religion Faculty, and Indian Philosophy for the Philosophy Faculty. Her research explores key philosophical themes across cultures, from Indian classical metaphysics, to philosophical conceptions of the divine, to twentieth-century phenomenology.

Her books explore conceptions of reality, the self and the good across cultures, focusing on classical Indian metaphysics and German phenomenology. Forthcoming books explore Indian approaches to Being, definitions of the divine, and Gadamer’s distinctive “hermeneutic” ontology. Her work on Indian ideas seeks to translate them into global terms, offering new ways to think about the issues that shape our society: the nature of a good life, justice, truth, reality and value.

She anchors these perspectives in classic texts, and bring them into conversation with academic philosophy and existential concerns.