SOAS University of London

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

Karen O'Brien-Kop

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


Karen O'Brien-Kop
Centre of Yoga Studies


Department of Religions and Philosophies, School of History, Religions and Philosophies

Senior Teaching Fellow

Ms Karen O'Brien-Kop
Email address:
Office No:
Academic Support Hours:
Wednesday 9-11 a.m
Thesis title:
Seed and Cloud as Metaphors of Liberation in Buddhist and Pātañjala Yoga: An Intertextual Study

PhD Research

I am conducting an intertextual study of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra (circa 4th century), the classical Indian treatise on yoga. I am exploring the extent to which the soteriological frames of this text overlap and intersect with contemporaneous Buddhist Yogācāra and Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma texts. My methodological approach is conceptual metaphor theory that draws on pragmatics.


  • 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



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