SOAS University of London

Centre of Yoga Studies

Karl Baier

Karl Baier

Date: 1 June 2022Time: 7:00 PM

Finishes: 1 June 2022Time: 8:15 PM

Venue: Virtual Event Room: Online

Type of Event: Talk

C. G. Jung on Yoga

In this lecture, I give an introduction to C. G. Jung's reception of Hindu traditions of yoga. His reflections on Buddhist yoga and Daoist techniques, which he also sometimes refers to as yoga, are not included. The most important stages of his involvement with yoga and the sources of his yoga knowledge are pointed out.


Jung's view of yoga is shaped by his image of India, which adopts Orientalist clichés and reinterprets them by means of his psychological theory. Therefore, Jung's Orientalism must be treated as an important intellectual framework of his yoga studies. His attitude towards India also comes to light during the Swiss psychologist's visit to India in 1937/38.


In the main part of the talk, I first focus on a closer reading of Jung's influential essay "India and the West", first published in Calcutta in 1936. In this work, a closeness to Vivekananda's understanding of yoga is evident. A second main point will be Jung's active imagination. Active imagination is a method of meditation developed by Jung, which he saw as a kind of western yoga. We will look at the arguments Jung put forward to show that active imagination is better suited to the psychological condition of people in Europe, than the traditional South Asian forms of yogic meditation.

Karl Baier is currently working as a professorial research fellow at the Department for Religious Studies, University of Vienna. He has been involved in modern yoga research for many years. His current research interests also include nineteenth and twentieth century alternative religion, mesmerism and psychedelics.


Some yoga related publications of the recent years:


Karl Baier, Philipp A.Maas, Karin Preisendanz (eds.). 2018. Yoga in Transformation. Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. Göttingen: V&R unipress 2018.
“Yoga within Viennese Occultism: Carl Kellner and Co.” 2018. In Karl Baier, Philipp A. Maas, Karin Preisendanz (eds.): Yoga in Transformation. Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. Göttingen: V&R unipress, 387-439.
“Theosophical Orientalism and the Structures of Intercultural Transfer: Annotations on the Appropriation of the Cakras in Early Theosophy”. In Boaz Hus, Julie Chajes (eds.), Theosophical Appropriations: Esotericism, Kabbbalah, and the Transformation of Traditions. Beer Sheva: University of the Negev Press 2016, 309-354.

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