SOAS University of London

South Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

Ruth Westoby

BSc History and International Relations (LSE), MA Indian Religions (SOAS)
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Westoby Ruth - SAS PHD IMG - 485 186 56
Centre of Yoga Studies


Ruth Westoby
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Thesis title:
Gendered constructs in Haṭha Yoga
Year of Study:
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PhD Research

My research is into gendered polarities found in the corpus of Medieval Sanskrit texts which are descriptive yet susceptible to manipulation to engender physiological and psychic transformations. These constructs include bindu (semen) and rajas (menses and female sexual fluid), and śiva (consciousness as male) and śakti (power as female). The ontological status of these substances range from the physical to the ritually imagined. They are heuristic devices considered to explain and be leveraged at the intersection of the physical, theoretical, religious, psychological and philosophical. And their effects likewise range from physical shift within the body of the practitioner, to psychological transformations, to physical death and psychic 'liberation'. I intend to deploy methods of gender analysis along with philology and hope my findings will speak to the sociopolitical milieu of Medieval haṭha yoga practitioners.


British Association for the Study of Religions