I've been practising and teaching both yoga and meditation for many years, so when I saw the syllabus for this new course I was immediately magnetised. Here was a course which addressed a whole range of my interests - hatha yoga, Buddhism meditation and secular mindfulness - and gave me a chance to set my practical knowledge within an academic context. The course has been beautifully structured so that all the modules interlink and complement each other. For example, we looked at ancient Indian religious movements to explore the roots of yoga, and then studied the same movements from the Buddhist perspective. The themes and readings are carefully selected to give a good historical grounding as well as a sense of the latest academic debates.
Most of the students come to this course with a background in some kind of yoga or meditation, and a passion for the subject, so this made for lively discussions in class. The lecturers are helpful and supportive of the fact that many of the students are returning to academic study after a long break. As a busy working person I appreciated that the weekly readings were made easily available to us online, yet I also loved having access to the extraordinary SOAS library. I told my husband that if I failed to return home one day he should send a search party to Tibetan section of the level C stacks, where I could easily browse for hours.
I've also loved being part of the lively community that is SOAS; there's a buzz you can feel as soon as you walk through the doors. I've enjoyed the free world music concerts in the Brunei theatre, or just sitting in the JCR with a cup of tea, hearing snatches of debate in many languages, and reading the posters and pamphlets for every possible political cause. SOAS is a stimulating place to be, both inside and outside the classroom, and I'm happy that I now have a lifelong connection to this unique institution.