Due to the current Covid situation, the conference will take place entirely as an online event.
Learn from the world's leading specialists in modern yoga studies.
Dr. Christèle Barois
Dr. Christèle Barois is an indologist specialized in ancient and medieval Hinduism through Purāṇic literature and South Indian Śaiva Tantras. Her work on Purāṇas includes a study of the second section of the Śivapurāṇa, the Vāyavīyasaṃhitā (60 chapters, circa 4,500 verses), which was composed in South India in the 11th century, and covers a wide range of topics (cosmogony, mythology, Śaiva doctrine and ritual, śaivayoga).
In 2015, she joined the Ayuryog ERC project (Medicine, Immortality, Moksha: Entangled Histories of Yoga, Ayurveda and Alchemy in South Asia, 2015-2020, Vienna University), whose central aim was to examine the link between yoga and classical Indian medicine. In this framework, she studied the concept of age (vayas) in ancient medical texts and their commentaries and initiated the study of the Dharmaputrikā Saṃhitā, an early manual of yoga attesting a close relationship between yoga and medicine at an early date.
Since 2013, she is also carrying out research on the narratives of embryogenesis in Purāṇic literature.
Jason Birch (DPhil, Oxon) is a senior research fellow for the ‘Light on Hatha Yoga’ project, hosted at SOAS University of London and the University of Marburg. He is also a visiting researcher on the Suśruta Project at the University of Alberta (http://sushrutaproject.org). He is well known for his important paper on the meaning of haṭha in early Haṭhayoga, which has reshaped our understanding of the origins of this term by locating it within Buddhist literature. His dissertation focused on a seminal Rājayoga text called the Amanaska. Through extensive fieldwork in India and the reconstruction of primary sources, Birch has identified the earliest text to teach a system of Haṭhayoga and Rājayoga, namely the twelfth-century Amaraugha. His most recent publication has defined a corpus of Sanskrit and vernacular texts that emerged during Haṭhayoga's floruit, the period in which it thrived on the eve of colonialism.
Jason has published articles in academic journals and critically edited and translated six texts on Haṭhayoga for the Hatha Yoga Project 2015–2020 (http://hyp.soas.ac.uk); taught Masters courses and Sanskrit reading classes at SOAS and given seminars on the history of yoga for MA programs at the Università Ca’ Foscari in Venice, Won Kwang University in South Korea and Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. He is a founding member of the Centre of Yoga Studies SOAS and the Journal of Yoga Studies, and combines his practical experience of yoga with academic knowledge of its history to teach online courses with Jacqueline Hargreaves on The Luminescent.
Gudrun Bühnemann is a Professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA. After receiving her Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies and Indology from the University of Vienna she spent extended periods of time as a post-doctoral researcher at Savitribai Phule Pune University and the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in India and at Nagoya University and Kyoto University in Japan. Her research has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Academy of Religion, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the German Research Council, among other organizations. She has published extensively on Tantric iconography and ritual. Her work on Yoga includes the book Eighty-four Āsanas in Yoga: A Survey of Traditions (2007; 2nd edition, 2011) and the papers “The Identification of an Illustrated Haṭhayoga Manuscript and its Significance for Traditions of 84 Āsanas in Yoga” (Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity no. 3 [Special Yoga Issue], 2007, pp. 156-176); “The Śāradātilakatantra on Yoga: A New Edition and Translation of Chapter 25” (Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies no. 74/2, 2011, pp. 205-235) and the book chapter “Nāga, Siddha and Sage: Visions of Patañjali as an Authority on Yoga (in: Yoga in Transformation: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. Edited by K. Baier, P.A. Maas and K.C. Preisendanz. Vienna: Vienna University Press, 2018, pp. 575-622). Currently she is working on a monograph on the iconography of Patañjali. She regularly teaches courses on the history of Yoga. More information can be found on her website: http://buhnemann.ls.wisc.edu/
Shaman Hatley is an associate professor of Asian Studies and Religious Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and chair of the department of Asian Studies. He completed an interdisciplinary liberal arts degree at Goddard College in 1998, and then studied Indology and Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His doctoral thesis on the Brahmayāmala and Śaiva yoginī cults was completed in 2007, under the direction of Harunaga Isaacson, after which he taught at Concordia University, Montréal (2007–2015). His research mainly concerns early Tantric Śaivism, yoga, and goddess cults. Recent publications include The Brahmayāmalatantra or Picumata, Volume I: Chapters 1–2, 39–40, & 83. Revelation, Ritual, and Material Culture in an Early Śaiva Tantra (Pondicherry, 2018). At the University of Massachusetts, he teaches courses such as Yoga in History, Philosophy, and Practice, Meditation Traditions of Asia, and Hindu Myth and Narrative.
Prof. Dr. C. Kiehnle did her Ph.D. in Vedic studies and her D.Litt. on texts in Old Marāṭhi. Her special areas of research are Nāth yoga and bhakti in Maharashtra. She taught until her retirement Hindu religions and Hindi at the Institute of Indology and Central Asian Studies in Leipzig.
Corinna Lhoir, M.A., is a PhD student and a lecturer for Origins of Yoga and Sanskrit at Universität Hamburg. She holds a B.A in Languages and Cultures of India and Tibet (with a major in Classical Indology) from Universität Hamburg and an M.A. in Traditions of Yoga and Meditation from SOAS University of London. Her main research focuses on Jain Yogic sources and texts from related philosophical strands.
Nils Jacob Liersch is a longtime practitioner of yoga and a scholar of Indian religions, Sanskrit, and yoga traditions.
He received his B.A. and M.A. Classical Indology and Religious Studies at the Ruprecht-Karls University of Heidelberg with a focus on Sanskrit and South Asian religions. He is currently doing his doctorate at the Philipps University of Marburg at the Institute for Indology and Tibetology under Prof. Dr. Jürgen Hanneder on the topic "The Tattvayogabindu of Rāmacandra - A critical edition with annotated translation and monographic introduction" and is a research associate in the Haṭhapradīpika project.
Dr. Philipp Maas is currently a research associate at the Institute for Indology and Central Asian Studies, University of Leipzig in Germany, where he works on a digital critical edition of the Nyāyabhāṣya, a Sanskrit work on spiritual liberation through proper reasoning. Previously he had served as an assistant professor and postdoc researcher at the Department of South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at the University of Vienna, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and the University of Bonn Germany.
Philipp received his M.A. (1997) and Dr. phil. (2004) degrees from the University of Bonn, where he had completed studies in Indology, Comparative Religious Studies, Tibetology and Philosophy. His first book (originally his PhD thesis) is the first critical edition of the first chapter (Samādhipāda) of the Pātañjala Yogaśāstra, i.e. the Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali together with the commentary called Yoga Bhāṣya. He has published extensively on classical Yoga and Sāṅkhya philosophy and meditation, Āyurveda, the relationship of Pātañjalayoga to Buddhism, the adaptation of the Pātañjalayogaśāśtra by the Perso-Muslim scholar Al-Bīrūnī (together with with Noémie Verson) as well as on the textual tradition of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra. Philipp is a co-editor of the volume Yoga in Transformation. Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (Vienna 2018) and a member of the “Historical Sourcebooks on Classical Indian Thought” project, convened by Prof. Sheldon Pollock, to which he contributes with a monograph on the development of Yoga-related ideas in pre-modern South Asian intellectual history.
James Mallinson is Reader in Indology and Yoga Studies at SOAS University of London and chair of the SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies, which he set up in 2018. He recently concluded a five-year six-person research project into the history of haṭhayoga funded by the European Research Council whose outputs will include ten critical editions of important Sanskrit texts on haṭhayoga. He now, along with Prof. Jurgen Hanneder, leading a new UK-German project funded by the AHRC and DFG to edit the Haṭhapradīpikā. Among his many publications is Roots of Yoga, an anthology of translations from more than 160 texts on yoga, co-authored with Mark Singleton and published by Penguin Classics.
Andrew J. Nicholson is an Associate Professor at Stony Brook University (USA) and Director of its MA program “History of Philosophies East and West.” He has written two books and numerous articles on Indian philosophy, intellectual history, and philosophy of religion. His book Unifying Hinduism: Philosophy and Identity in Indian Intellectual History won the American Academy of Religion’s Prize for Best First Book in the History of Religions. Professor Nicholson’s second book, Lord Śiva’s Song: The Īśvara Gītā, is a translation of an 8th century philosophical dialogue that discusses yoga from the perspective of the Pāśupata Śaiva sect. His current research projects examine the history of Vedānta philosophy in medieval and early modern India, Hindu traditions of anti-theistic argumentation, and Indian ethical and political thought.
Dr. Karen O'Brien-Kop is a Lecturer in Asian Religions and Ethics at the University of Roehampton. She researches classical South Asian Sanskrit texts and culture on meditation and yoga, in particular exploring the interconnections of Hinduism and Buddhism. She has published peer-reviewed articles in Religions of South Asia and Journal of Indian Philosophy, was co-editor of The Routledge Handbook of Yoga and Meditation Studies (2020), and is publishing a monograph with Bloomsbury Academic titled Rethinking Classical Yoga and Buddhism: Meditation, Metaphors and Materiality (forthcoming). Karen is co-convenor of the Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions and at the American Academy of Religion serves on the steering committee for the Yoga in Theory and Practice Unit as well as being co-chair of the Indian and Chinese Religions Compared Unit.
My current appointment is as a professor at the University of Alberta, Canada, where I hold the Singhmar Chair in Classical Indian Society and Polity in the Department of History and Classics.
In Asian Studies, my early training was in the Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit languages. I received a BA, MA and DPhil from Oxford University. My first research project was on formal rule-conflict in Indian linguistics (the generative Sanskrit grammar by Panini). Later, I moved to teach and research in the history of medicine in India and South Asia, and this has remained an active research area for me. Over the last ten years, I have begun to research the history of classical Yoga in India, and that has immediately connected with aspects of early Indian Buddhism, out of which Yoga arose.
Amongst my writing projects is a book on the history of Yoga Asanas, co-authored with Philipp Maas. In 2020 I received a Canadian government grant for a four-year project on the early history of Ayurvedic medicine (Sushrutaproject.org).
If there is a golden thread through my research interests it is the study of source materials in their original languages, mainly Sanskrit and Pali, and the study of manuscripts.