SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Dr Karen O'Brien-Kop

BA (Warwick), MA (Queen's, Canada), MA (SOAS)
  • Teaching
  • Research


Karen O'Brien-Kop
Centre of Yoga Studies


Dr Karen O'Brien-Kop
Email address:
Thesis title:
Seed and Cloud as Metaphors of Liberation in Buddhist and Pātañjala Yoga: An Intertextual Study

PhD Research

I conducted an intertextual study of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra (circa 4th century), the classical Indian treatise on yoga. I examined the extent to which the soteriological frames of this text overlapped and intersected with contemporaneous Buddhist Yogācāra and Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma texts. My main methodological approach was conceptual metaphor theory.


  • Newcombe, S. and O'Brien-Kop, K. (Eds.) (forthcoming). The Routledge Handbook of Yoga and Meditation Studies. Routledge: London and New York.
  • O’Brien-Kop, K. (forthcoming) Entries ‘Siddha Yoga’, ‘Meditation’. In Encyclopedia of Indian Religions. Volume 3. Ed. Sharma, A. Springer Press: Dordrecht, Netherlands.
  • O’Brien, K. (2018) ‘Sāṃkhya’ and ‘Yogācāra’. Dictionary of Philosophy of Religions. Ed. Talliafero, C, and Marty, E. Bloomsbury: New York.
  • O’Brien-Kop, K (2017) ‘Classical discourses of liberation: shared botanical metaphors in Sarvāstivāda Buddhism and the Yoga of Patañjali’ in Religions of South Asia. 11.2.
  • O’Brien-Kop, K (2017) ‘Book review of Dialogue in Early South Asian Religions, edited by Brian Black and Laurie Patton’, International Journal of Hindu Studies 21: 245-246.
  • O'Brien-Kop, K (2016) 'Book Review of Indian Asceticism: Power, Violence, and Play by Carl Olson', in Reading Religion, A Publication of the American Academy of Religion.


  • 'The 'other' yogaśāstra: Reconfiguring the category of classical yoga'. American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting. Denver, USA. 2018
  • 'Pratipakṣabhāvanā: Yoga as the path of cultivation to overcome the obstacles’. World Sanskrit Conference, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. 2018
  • 'Patañjali’s Dharmamegha: The revision of a superlative metaphor’ at Sanskrit Tradition in the Modern World, Manchester University. 2018
  • ‘Joining the dots between Buddhist yoga and classical yoga’ at SOAS Centre of Buddhist Studies PhD Workshop. May 18. 2017.
  • ‘The entangled discourse of classical yoga’ at The 42nd Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University. April 7-9 2017.
  • ‘The intertextual transposition of the term ‘yoga’ in a classical context’ at ‘Yoga Darśana, Yoga Sādhana: Traditions, Transmissions, Transformations’, Institute for the Study of Religions, Jagiellonian University, Poland. May 19-21, 2016.
  • ‘An intertextual reading of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra: Localised contexts of production and global challenges of interpretation’, British Association of the Study of Religions Annual Conference, University of Kent, UK. September 14-16, 2015.


  • British Association for the Study of Religions
  • Royal Asiatic Society
  • American Academy of Religion and European Association of South Asian Studies



  • Early Indian religions
  • Indian philosophy
  • History of classical yoga
  • Sanskrit
  • Literary criticism and theory