School of History, Religions and Philosophies

Ruth Westoby

Key information

School of History, Religions and Philosophies
Thesis title
Blood, snake, fire: The mighty body of yoga in early haṭha texts
Internal Supervisors
Dr Richard Williams


Ruth Westoby is writing up a thesis on the body in early haṭha yoga and is a long-term yoga practitioner.

Ruth’s thesis is titled, ‘Blood, snake, fire: The mighty body of yoga in early haṭha texts’, at SOAS University of London, prepared under the supervision of Dr James Mallinson.

Ruth is Visiting Lecturer in Indian Religions at Roehampton University, teaching postgraduate theory and method in the study of religion and undergraduate courses on contemporary issues in global religions as well as religion, ecology and politics. Ruth collaborated with the Haṭha Yoga Project’s ‘embodied philology’, interpreting postures from an 18th-century text teaching a precursor of modern yoga, the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati, in 2016 and 2017.

Ruth has published early research findings in the peer-reviewed Religions of South Asia and numerous public articles. Ruth served on the steering committee for the SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies for four years and currently serves on the Yoga in Theory and Practice Unit of the American Academy of Religions. In 2010 she received an MA in Indian Religions from SOAS, University of London, with Distinction. 

Ruth has practiced yoga for almost 30 years and in 2015 was authorized by Sharat Jois to teach Ashtanga level 2. Ruth has studied closely with Hamish Hendry and Richard Freeman. Ruth does not practice at studios which display images of Pattabhi Jois on altars in solidarity with those who were sexually abused by him.

Ruth is a founder member and chair of the floodplain meadow restoration campaign Friends of Bartonsham Meadows. See for research outputs, courses and films. 

Research interests

Ruth's research interests include yoga, gender and sexuality, doctrinal justifications and textual representations of practice.

Contact Ruth