SOAS University of London

Centre of Yoga Studies

Understanding Yoga Studies

As a recognised field of academic study Yoga Studies is relatively young. Historically the study of traditions of yoga lived within a number of other academic disciplines; such as philology, Indology, history, religion and anthropology. In a contemporary academic context, studies of yoga have branched into further disciplinary contexts like sociology, ethnography, economics, modern history. This makes the field highly varied, engaging and exciting (we might be biased!) but also potentially vast and overwhelming for scholars new to the landscape.

The multi-disciplinarity of the field often requires an awareness of numerous domains of knowledge, and the different (and often contradictory) conventions of different disciplines can be bewildering. This content series aims to equip early-stage and independent scholars with the tools to better navigate this varied research landscape, and equally to help practitioner communities in understanding the diversity of research being done into both pre-modern and modern incarnations of this vast field of cultural practice.

We hope this will be a helpful resource that will inspire and strengthen interdisciplinary awareness and approaches. As the editors of the recent Routledge Handbook of Yoga and Meditation Studies (2021:9) observe, this kind of knowledge exchange really is vital to make sense of the complexity and on-going global developments within yoga, and to genuinely further and deepen understanding. We are very grateful to SOAS IKE fund for supporting this project, which Vicky Addinall is working hard on, and Theo Wildcroft is supervising.

Each month we will share an introduction to a different discipline within the field of Yoga Studies including a short outline of the its placement in the field, a spotlight on three relevant academic voices, a short reading list and audio interview with a current academic working within that discipline. The content will be hosted online and circulated via our mailing list and social networks. Each one will also have its own pages below.

1. Indology

2. Philology

3. Modern history

4. Anthropology and Ethnography

5. Interdisciplinarity

6. Art and Material Culture

  • An introduction to art and material culture
  • Art and material culture: Voices from the field

7. Sociology

  • An introduction to sociology
  • Sociology: Voices from the field

8. The science of movement and sensation

  • An introduction to the science of movement and sensation
  • The science of movement and sensation: Voices from the field

9. Religious Studies

  • An introduction to religious studies
  • Religious studies: Voices from the field

10. Critical studies - decolonisation, race, gender and accessibility

  • An introduction to critical studies
  • Critical studies: Voices from the field

11. Performance Studies

  • An introduction to performance studies
  • Performance studies: Voices from the field

12. Community education and development

  • An introduction to community education and development
  • Community education and development: Voices from thefield