SOAS University of London

Centre of Yoga Studies

SOAS Yoga Studies Online Summer School (2021 entry)

SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies

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Programme Description

Credit: Yogasutra with Patanjali's bhasya, Sanskrit, Devanagari script, sample pages f1v f2r f3v (University of Pennsylvania)
Credit: Yogasutra with Patanjali's bhasya, Sanskrit, Devanagari script, sample pages f1v f2r f3v (University of Pennsylvania)

This summer school gives students the unique opportunity to learn from and interact with established leaders in the field of yoga studies, as well as engage with important developments from emerging scholars. It draws on scholarship supported by the Centre of Yoga Studies since its inception, in particular the concluding Haṭha Yoga Project and the recently launched Routledge Handbook of Yoga and Meditation Studies, both significant projects in the field with strong links to the Centre of Yoga Studies. The summer school is designed in reference to these: the Haṭha Yoga Project for key aspects of yoga history and contemporary practice, and the Routledge Handbook of Yoga and Meditation Studies for its reframing of yoga and meditation studies and its discussion of current critical issues in these.

The course is divided by theme, including history, disciplinary framings and critical issues in yoga studies. The history section will draw on the expertise of the SOAS Haṭha Yoga Project team to survey the history of haṭhayoga through Sanskrit texts and ethnography. Disciplinary framings will explore how themes including sound and yoga, embodied philology and ethnography contribute to our understanding of yoga. Critical issues examined will include questions around gender, transmission, legitimacy and abuse in yoga. The course also provides an introduction to the complex role of Sanskrit in yoga studies and an introduction to key Sanskrit terms.

The summer school will be taught by the research team of the Haṭha Yoga Project, the editors of the Routledge Handbook of Yoga and Meditation Studies and some of its contributors, and important emerging scholars of yoga studies, at SOAS and further afield.

Due to the uncertainties around the pandemic, the 2021 summer school will be taught entirely online, in a format designed to mitigate the lack of physical proximity by maximising interactivity and student engagement.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  • Discuss current critical debates in contemporary globalised yoga
  • Outline key texts and themes in the history of haṭhayoga
  • Reflect on ethnographic research methods in relation to postural yoga practices
  • Understand the implications of disciplinary framings in the reception of yoga

Course Activities

Credit: Āsana at Hampi, India. Photo by Hatha Yoga Project
Credit: Āsana at Hampi, India. Photo by Hatha Yoga Project


The Centre of Yoga Studies is committed to SOAS's policy of promoting equality, diversity and inclusivity in the student body. In order to promote these objectives we are offering offering two fee-waiver bursaries. Please see our Bursaries page for more information and instructions on how to apply.


For more information, please email

Venue: other

Start of programme: 28th June - 9th July 2021

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

Entry requirements

  • You will have completed one year of undergraduate study at the time of joining the Academic Summer School. Professional experience can be acknowledged as equivalent to a university qualification.

Featured events

2 weeks

Tuition Fees 2021




Teaching schedule

Week 1: 28th June - 2nd July

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
10:00 - 12:00 Induction & Welcome (LMC) Reframing Yoga and Meditation Studies (KOB & SN) Yoga as a Health Intervention & Decolonising the Yogic Body (SN & KOB) Pre-Colonial Haṭha Yoga (JB) Yoga on the cusp of Modernity –Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati (JB & JH)
13:30 - 15:30 Introductory Overview (RW)
Early Haṭha Yoga 1 (JM)
Early Haṭha Yoga 2 (JM) Women in Yoga & the Divine Feminine (RW) Sacred Sound and Mantras in Early Yoga (FG)
15:45 - 16:15 Town hall (LMC) Town hall (LMC) Town hall (LMC) Town hall (LMC)

Week 2: 5th - 9th July

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
10:00 - 12:00 Introduction to Sanskrit (LW) Pātañjala Yoga and Early Buddhist Yogācāra (KOB) The Scholar-Practitioner in Yoga Studies (BML) The Teaching of Yoga (TW) Assignment presentations (LMC & RW)
13:30 -15:30 Ethnography in Yoga Studies (DB) Contemporary Ascetic Practice in India (DB) Spiritual Abuse in Modern Yoga
Assignment presentations (LMC & RW) Closing Discussion (LMC)
15:45 - 16:15 Town hall (LMC) Town hall (LMC) Town hall (LMC) Town hall (LMC)

LMC = Lucy May Constantini, RW = Ruth Westoby, SN = Suzanne Newcombe, KOB = Karen O’Brien-Kop, JM = James Mallinson, JB = Jason Birch, JH = Jacqueline Hargreaves, FG = Finnian M. M. Gerety, LW = Lidia Wojtczak, DB = Daniela Bevilacqua, BML = Borayin Maitreya Larios, AW = Amelia Wood, TW = Theo Wildcroft

Sessions will run Monday to Friday 10:00-12:00 and 13:30-15:30 (UK time), with a half hour facilitated “town hall” at the end of each day to discuss and process the day’s material. Teaching portions of sessions will be recorded and available to students for a time-limited period, to increase accessibility to students in different time zones. Depending on the geographical spread of students, some town halls may be moved to the beginning of the day so that everyone has the possibility of attending.

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.

Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning

Contact hours:

44 hours (lectures, discussion, activities). The course will be delivered Monday - Friday over the 2 weeks.

Core hours:

Monday - Friday 10am-4.15pm.


Assessment is informal and optional. For those who wish to take part in assessments, there will be a seminar presentation during week 2 with set titles or student suggested titles as agreed in consultation with the convenor.

Fees and funding


How to Apply

Please apply for the summer school using this link to the SOAS online store.

Entry Requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for the summer school. But there are a few questions that you will be asked when booking your place. These are to help us tailor the course more closely to the experience and needs of our students. Please don't think of them as questions you need to pass, but more as information that helps us get to know you a little. 

If you'd like to think about those questions in advance, here they are:

  1. Please briefly describe your background and interest in the practice and study of yoga.
  2. What is your highest educational qualification or professional experience?
  3. Please be aware that content will be delivered in English. What is your level of English?
  4. The summer school will be entirely online this year. Please tell us what part of the world you are in.
  5. Do you have special needs or require any adjustments to support your learning? If so, please describe them briefly.