Our faculty is comprised of expert scholars and educators in the fields of Yoga Studies, Indology, Religious Studies, and South Asian Studies.
PhD Candidate, Harvard University
Founder and Director, Yogic Studies
Seth Powell is a longtime practitioner of yoga and a scholar of Indian religions, Sanskrit, and yoga traditions. He is currently a PhD Candidate in South Asian Religions at Harvard University. His research focuses on the history, theory, and practice of medieval and early modern Sanskrit yoga texts and traditions, as well as their intersections with the culture and practice of modern transnational yoga. Seth also holds degrees in the study of religion from the University of Washington (MA) and Humboldt State University (BA).
He is currently writing a dissertation based around a 15th-century Sanskrit yoga text from south India known as Śivayogapradīpikā.
Seth founded Yogic Studies in 2018 and serves as the Director and Head Faculty.
Dr. Antonia M. Ruppel
Lecturer in Sanskrit, Institute of Indology and Tibetology, LMU, Munich, Germany
Antonia Ruppel is a Classicist by training who came to Sanskrit through a series of fortunate accidents. She learnt the language as an autodidact, and one of her reasons for writing her textbook, The Cambridge Introduction to Sanskrit (2017), was to make the experience of studying Sanskrit easier and more pleasant for others. She has recently published the followup volume, An Introductory Sanskrit Reader: Improving Reading Fluency (2021), designed to help students gain reading fluency in an enjoyable and straightforward way.
Language pedagogy is at the heart of her life. She has been teaching Sanskrit for 15 years at universities such as Cornell, Oxford and now the LMU in Munich, Germany, as well as offering courses online at Yogic Studies.
Dr. Varun Khanna
Visiting Professor, Swarthmore College
As a pre-med undergrad student, Varun Khanna accidentally stumbled into Sanskrit when he tried to learn Ayurveda during a study abroad program in India. After learning to speak and becoming fluent in the language, he changed direction and became a full-time student of Sanskrit and Indian philosophy. He then traveled through various jungles and cities in India to learn from different Sanskrit gurus, specializing in Pāṇinian Sanskrit grammar. Varun later earned both his master’s degree in Sanskrit and his PhD in Hinduism (studying consciousness in the Upaniṣads) at the University of Cambridge. He has been teaching spoken Sanskrit, Pāṇinian Sanskrit grammar, and topics in Indian philosophy since 2008, and is now a Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics teaching Sanskrit at Swarthmore College.
Varun’s research interests lie in the intersection of Sanskrit grammar, Vedānta philosophy, and social justice. His latest work centers on the perspectives that ancient Sanskrit literature offers for thinking about equality, freedom, and justice. He is also working on a new Sanskrit primer that incorporates Pāṇinian grammar in order to help students learn the exact boundaries of the rules of Sanskrit.
Dr. Rajiv Ranjan
Assistant Professor, Michigan State University
Dr. Rajiv Ranjan is a professor of Hindi and Urdu language at Michigan State University. He received his PhD in Second Language Acquisition (Dr. Rajiv Ranjan is a professor of Hindi and Urdu language at Michigan State University. He received his PhD in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) from the University of Iowa in 2016. He has been teaching Hindi and Urdu languages in the U.S. since 2010. In addition to his classroom-teaching experience, Rajiv has also taught online at MSU and at Kean University. He taught an immersion program for the South Asia Summer Language Institute (SASLI) at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and he has also taught in a study abroad context for the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) in India.
Rajiv has published an Open Educational Resource (OER) Hindi textbook Basic Hindi I. Rajiv’s primary area of research is generative approaches to SLA. His research interests also include socio-cultural approaches to SLA, second language writing and speaking, language pedagogy, and morpho-syntax.
Dr. Aleix Ruiz-Falqués
Head of the Department of Pali and Languages at the Shan State Buddhist University, Khyentse Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Buddhist Studies, and Lecturer of Pali at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Aleix Ruiz-Falqués teaches graduate courses in Pali language and literature in Taunggyi, Myanmar. Aleix completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2016, under the supervision of Prof. Eivind Kahrs. His research focuses on traditional grammar and scholasticism in Pali, particularly in Myanmar. More broadly, he is interested in ancient Indian literature (kāvya) and philosophy or knowledge systems (śāstra).
After completing his PhD in 2015, Aleix worked for two years on Pali manuscripts in Thailand, and he spent one year doing independent research in India. In 2018, he moved to the Shan State in Myanmar, where his long-term project is to teach and learn the Pali and Burmese languages and literature in a traditional monastic setting. One of his long-term goals is to reveal and demystify the treasures of the Pali medieval tradition that explain how we still possess the ancient words of the Buddha today.
Yoga Studies Faculty
Dr. Ian Baker
PhD, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
Ian Baker is the author of several books on Himalayan and Tibetan religion and culture, including Tibetan Yoga: Principles and Practices, The Dalai Lamas Secret Temple: Tantric Wall Paintings from Tibet, and The Heart of the World: A Journey to Tibet’s Lost Paradise.
He received a Masters degree in English Literature from the University of Oxford, pursued further graduate studies in Buddhism and Medical Anthropology at Columbia University and University College London, and completed doctoral work in Medical Humanities at the University of Strathclyde, Scotland. He was lead curator for the 2015-16 London exhibition, ‘Tibet’s Secret Temple: Body, Mind and Meditation in Tantric Buddhism’ and was recognized by National Geographic Society as one of seven ‘Explorers for the Millennium’ for his fieldwork illuminating the Tibetan tradition of ‘hidden lands’ (beyul), idealized sites of yogic practice. His current research focuses on the contemporary interface of Indo-Tibetan yoga with art and science.
Dr. Raj Balkaran
Continuing Studies Tutor, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies
With Hinduism degrees from the University of Toronto and University of Calgary, Dr. Raj Balkaran is a scholar of Hindu mythology and author of The Goddess and the King in Indian Myth (2018) and The Goddess and the Sun in Indian Myth (2020), both published as part of Routledge’s Hindu Studies Series.
Alongside his academic training, Raj apprenticed with an Indian master for twelve years as part of a living oral tradition dedicated to the preservation and application of Hindu philosophy. He therefore brings hundreds of hours of traditional transmissions on yoga philosophy to the table, which he dovetails with academic rigor and captivating storytelling to deliver impactful instruction at Yogic Studies.
A seasoned online educator, Raj also teaches online courses privately and at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. Beyond teaching and research, Raj enjoys a thriving consulting practice and hosts the New Books in Hindu Studies podcast.
Dr. Daniela Bevilacqua
Post-Doc Research Fellow, SOAS, Haṭha Yoga Project
Daniela Bevilacqua is a South-Asianist who received her PhD in Civilizations of Africa and Asia from Sapienza University of Rome and in Anthropology from the University of Paris Nanterre. Her PhD research was published by Routledge under the title, Modern Hindu Traditionalism in Contemporary India: The Śrī Maṭh and the Jagadguru Rāmānandācārya in the Evolution of the Rāmānandī Sampradāya. She is now a Post-Doc Research Fellow at SOAS, working for the ERC-funded Hatha Yoga Project (2015-2020).
Through her groundbreaking fieldwork in India, she looks at the present practices of Haṭha Yoga among sādhus belonging to “traditional” samprādayas connected with the physical practice of yoga and with austerities. The purpose of this research is to confront ethnographic material with textual and historical evidences to reconstruct the development of these practices.
Dr. Jason Birch
Senior Research Fellow, SOAS and University of Marburg
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. 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 Haṭha Yoga Project 2015–2020; 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.
Dr. Sravana Borkataky-Varma
Lecturer, Harvard Divinity School
Dr. Sravana Borkataky-Varma is a historian, educator, and social entrepreneur. As a historian, she studies Indian religions focusing on esoteric rituals and gender, particularly in Hinduism (Goddess Tantra). As an educator, she is currently a lecturer at Harvard Divinity School. She is on leave from her parent organization, the University of Houston where she is the Instructional Assistant Professor. In the past she has taught at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, the University of Montana, Rice University, and Dalian Neusoft University, China.
There are five forthcoming book projects that Sravana is simultaneously working on: A monograph titled Divinized Divas: Superwomen, Wives, Hijṛās in Hindu Śākta Tantra, a co-written book titled The Serpent's Tale: Kuṇḍalinī and the History of an Experience, two co-edited volumes titled Living Folk Religions and Religious Responses to the Pandemic & Crises: Isolation, Survival, and #Covidchaos, and a co-edited special issue journal Digital Tantra. Her published articles can be found on sravana.me
As a social entrepreneur, she is the co-founder of a nonprofit, Lumen Tree Portal. Sravana invests in building communities with individuals from various faith backgrounds who believe in kindness, compassion, and fulfillment.
Dr. Edwin Bryant
Professor of Hinduism, Rutgers University
Edwin Bryant received his Ph.D in Indic languages and Cultures from Columbia University. He taught Hinduism at Harvard University for three years and is presently the professor of Hinduism at Rutgers University where he teaches courses on Hindu philosophy and religion. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, published eight books, and authored a number of articles on the earliest origins of Vedic culture, yoga philosophy, and the Kṛṣṇa tradition. These include Bryant’s translation of and commentary on The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009), and more recently its sequel entitled Bhakti Yoga: Tales and Teachings from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2017).
Dr. Patton Burchett
Assistant Professor, College of William & Mary
Patton Burchett is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. He earned his PhD in South Asian Religions from Columbia University in 2012 and then spent three years as an Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow in Religious Studies at New York University (NYU). Patton's research focuses on early modern devotional (bhakti) traditions and tantric and yogic religiosity in North India and on the interrelations of magic, science, and religion in the rise of Indian and Western modernities. He is the author of numerous articles and book chapters on bhakti literature and Mughal-era Indian religious history (among other topics), and his first book, A Genealogy of Devotion: Bhakti, Tantra, Yoga, and Sufism in North India (Columbia University Press) was published in 2019.
Dr. Keith Edward Cantú
Assistant Professor, Jagiellonian University
Dr. Keith Edward Cantú is an Assistant Professor (postdoctoral research associate) at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, where his current research focuses on the political patronage of yogic “meditation halls” (maṭālayams) and “tumuli” (jīva-camātis) in Tamil Nadu. He recently completed his doctoral dissertation at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the focus of which was the Tamil, pan-Indian, and international reception of the early modern yogi Sabhapati Swami’s system of Śivarājayoga.
In addition to his dissertation, which is soon set to be published with an academic press, Keith was the co-editor with Saymon Zakaria of City of Mirrors: Songs of Lālan Sā̃i (Oxford University Press, South Asia Research series, 2017), a volume of nineteenth-century Bengali Bāul Fakiri songs translated by Carol Salomon. He also has published several articles and chapters relating to topics as varied as yoga and cultural authenticity, theosophical orientalism and yoga, the ethnography of Tantra, and Islamic esotericism, and has translated a Sanskrit chapter of the Rasāyanakhaṇḍa on the alchemical wonders of Śrīśailam (forthcoming via the Ayuryog project). When not researching he is also working with the Bengali community at a non-profit clinic as a health education and outreach specialist.
Dr. Arti Dhand
Associate Professor of South Asian Religions, University of Toronto
Arti Dhand's specializations include the great Sanskrit epics, the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata. Her 2009 book Woman as Fire, Woman as Sage explored ideologies of sexuality in the Mahābhārata. Her current work is The Twin Epics, a comparative analysis of the architecture of thought in the Sanskrit epics. She is also the host of the The Mahabharata Podcast, in which she aims to recount the text in its entirety!
PhD Candidate, University of California, Santa Barbara
Philip Deslippe is a historian of American religion with a background in American Studies and literature. He is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara where he is writing a dissertation on the early history of yoga in the United States from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century. Philip has published articles on the history of modern yoga in academic journals such as the Journal of Yoga Studies, Amerasia, and Sikh Formations, and in popular venues including Yoga Journal, Air and Space Smithsonian, and the Indian news site Scroll.
He has presented his work at several dozen academic conferences, given guest lectures for courses at Stanford, UCLA, and UC Santa Barbara, and has been a lecturer for the teacher training program at Avalon Yoga in Palo Alto, California for the last five years. His writing has been translated into Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, and Turkish.
Dr. Carl Ernst
William R. Kenan, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies Emeritus, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Carl W. Ernst is an academic specialist in Islamic studies, with a focus on West and South Asia. He has received research fellowships from the Fulbright program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and he has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His research, based on the study of Arabic, Persian, and Urdu, has been mainly devoted to the study of three areas: general and critical issues of Islamic studies, premodern and contemporary Sufism, and Indo-Muslim culture.
He studied comparative religion at Stanford University (A.B. 1973) and Harvard University (Ph.D. 1981). He has done extended research tours in India (1978-79, 1981), Pakistan (1986, 2000, 2005), and Turkey (1991), and has been a regular visitor to the Gulf, Turkey, Iran, and Southeast Asia for lectures and conferences. His next publications, coming out in August 2023, are I Cannot Write My Life: Islam, Arabic, and Slavery in Omar ibn Said’s America, co-authored with Mbaye Lo (UNC Press, 2023), and Breathtaking Revelations: The Science of Breath, from the Fifty Kamarupa Verses to Hazrat Inayat Khan, co-authored with Patrick d’Silva (Suluk Press, 2023).
Dr. Finnian M.M. Gerety
Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Brown University
Finnian M.M. Gerety is a historian of Indian religions focusing on sound and mantra. After earning a PhD in South Asian Studies from Harvard University, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Yale University Institute of Sacred Music. Finn is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, the Contemplative Studies Program, and the Center for Contemporary South Asia at Brown University, where he teaches courses on mantra, yoga, ritual, and the senses.
Integrating the study of premodern texts with insights from fieldwork in contemporary south India, Finn’s research explores how sound has shaped religious doctrines and practices on the subcontinent from the late Bronze Age up through today. His current book project for Oxford University Press, This Whole World is OM: A History of the Sacred Syllable in India, is the first-ever monograph on OM, the preeminent mantra and ubiquitous sacred syllable of Indian religions.
Independent Researcher, The Luminescent
Jacqueline Hargreaves is an Engineer, senior Yoga Teacher, and independent researcher who examines the contemporary meeting place between historical Yoga practices and their application in the modern world. She is a founding member of the Journal of Yoga Studies, a peer-reviewed academic journal, and the co-founder of The Luminescent, an independent open-access educational platform for publishing cutting-edge, original research from primary sources. She has traveled throughout India for fieldwork into the origins of Haṭhayoga and studied meditation extensively, including mindfulness-based meditation (MBCT and MBSR) and intensive Zen practice in a remote part of Japan.
Hargreaves collaborates with scholars, artists, and scientists to communicate research on both premodern and modern facets of Yoga. Most recently, she curated the exhibition Embodied Liberation I and II at the Brunei Gallery in London for the Hatha Yoga Project (SOAS University of London). In collaboration with the AyurYog Project (University of Vienna), she curated the Untangling Traditions series and designed a web-based visual and interactive timeline for premodern yoga and Āyurveda.
Hargreaves is currently producing a documentary film, which aims to bring to life the unique content of the postural practice preserved in an eighteenth-century Sanskrit yoga text, Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati, through a visual reconstruction of its extraordinary section on āsana.
Dr. Philipp Maas
Research Associate, Universität Leipzig
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.
He 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 as well as on the textual tradition of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra. He is 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.
Dr. James Mallinson
SOAS, University of London
Dr. Mallinson is Reader in Indology and Yoga Studies at SOAS University of London. His research focuses on the history and current traditional practice of yoga and his primary methods are philology, ethnography and art history. Dr. Mallinson led the Haṭha Yoga Project (2015–2021), a six-person research project on the history of physical yoga funded by the European Research Council. The project’s core outputs will be ten critical editions of Sanskrit texts on physical yoga and four monographs on its history and current practice. Together with Professor Jürgen Hanneder (University of Marburg), Dr Mallinson is now leading the Light on Hatha Yoga Project (2021–2024) which will produce a critical edition of the Haṭhapradīpikā.
Among Dr. Mallinson’s publications are The Khecarīvidyā of Ādinātha, a Critical Edition and Annotated Translation of an Early Text on Haṭhayoga (Routledge, 2007), a revision of his doctoral thesis, which was supervised by Professor Alexis Sanderson at the University of Oxford, where Dr. Mallinson also read Sanskrit as an undergraduate, Roots of Yoga (Penguin Classics, 2017, co-authored with Mark Singleton) and The Amṛtasiddhi and Amṛtasiddhimūla: The Earliest Texts of the Haṭhayoga Tradition (École française d’Extreme-orient, Pondicherry, 2021). Dr. Mallinson has spent more than ten years living in India with traditional ascetics and practitioners of yoga, and at the 2013 Kumbh Mela was awarded the title of Mahant by the Rāmānandī Saṃpradāya.
Dr. Adrián Muñoz
Associate Professor, Center for Asian and African Studies, El Colegio De México
Adrián Muñoz is an Associate Professor at the Center for Asian and African Studies, El Colegio de México, where he earned his PhD in South Asian Studies in 2007. He has specialized in South Asian religious traditions, with an emphasis in early modern expressions, but is also interested in the intricate relationships between religion, mythography, and literature across time and languages. Adrián’s research has usually focused on the history and literature of yoga, often dealing with issues of hagiography, variability, and identity. In recent years, he has been developing a research project on the reception and practice of yoga in Mexico, and coordinates a wider research group devoted to tracing the history of yoga in Latin America. He has authored various articles and book chapters these issues. His books include Historia minima del yoga (2019, co-authored with Gabriel Martino), Radiografía del hathayoga (2016), and Yogi Heroes and Poets: Histories and Legends of the Naths (2011, coedited with David N. Lorenzen). He also writes poetry.
Dr. Karen O'Brien-Kop
Lecturer in Asian Religions and Ethics at the University of Roehampton, London, UK
Karen O’Brien-Kop is Lecturer in Asian Religions and Ethics in the Department of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Roehampton, London, UK. She received her PhD from SOAS University of London, is a specialist in the historical study of meditation and yoga within Asian religious traditions, and analyses early Hindu and Buddhist meditation manuals in Sanskrit.
She has taught on the MA Traditions of Yoga and Meditation at SOAS University of London, and at the University of Roehampton she has designed a new BA module 'Yoga, Meditation and Health'. Since 2018, she has served on the committee for the SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies, an academic research and teaching centre focused on public engagement. In the American Academy of Religion, Karen is a committee member for the Yoga in Theory and Practice Unit and co-chair of the Indian and Chinese Religions Compared Unit. She has published peer-reviewed articles in Religions of South Asia and Journal of Indian Philosophy and is co-editor of The Routledge Handbook of Yoga and Meditation Studies (2020), an interdisciplinary volume of 34 chapters from global contributors. Karen is currently working on a book project on rethinking classical yoga in relation to Buddhism.
Dr. Stuart Sarbacker
Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Philosophy, School of History, Philosophy, and Religion, Oregon State University
Stuart Ray Sarbacker is a scholar and seasoned practitioner of yoga and the author of three books, Tracing the Path of Yoga: The History and Philosophy of Indian Mind-Body Discipline (2021), The Eight Limbs of Yoga: A Handbook of Living Yoga Philosophy (with Kevin Kimple, 2015), and Samādhi: The Numinous and Cessative in Indo-Tibetan Yoga (2005). He has published a wide range of articles and essays on classical and contemporary yoga philosophy and practice. He is particularly interested in the ways in which historical and philosophical traditions of yoga can be placed in comparison and conversation with modern and contemporary practice.
He received his Ph.D. in Religious Studies with a specialization in the Languages and Cultures of Asia from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has performed research and fieldwork in India, Nepal, and Japan. He is an enthusiastic and innovative teacher, incorporating contemplative practices and social and environmental justice service-learning into his courses at Oregon State, where he contributes to certificate and teacher trainings in yoga as well as to the philosophy and religion curriculum.
Lecturer, UC Berkeley
Jvala Singh is a lecturer for UC Berkeley at the Institute for South Asia Studies. He is currently completing his PhD at the University of British Columbia, where he is examining pre-colonial Sikh historical narratives. His research explores literature in Punjabi and Brajbhāṣā from the 18th and 19th centuries, building off his previous M.A. research completed at the University of Toronto, where he focused on Sikh Brajbhāṣā versions of Sanskrit epics, such as the Rāmāyaṇa.
In furthering the accessibility of pre-colonial Sikh Brajbhāṣā texts, Singh runs the Suraj Podcast, where each episode is a chapter summary in English of the voluminous Sūraj Prakāś (1843 CE)—a historical narrative covering the lives of the ten Sikh Gurus written by Santokh Singh (1787-1844).
Dr. Mark Singleton
SOAS, University of London
Mark Singleton specializes in the history of yoga in tradition and modernity. He is Senior Research Fellow at SOAS University of London, where he works on the Hatha Yoga Project, a five-year research project mapping a thousand years of yoga history through texts and ethnography. He is the author of Yoga Body, The Origins of Modern Posture Practice (2010), and co-author (with James Mallinson) of Roots of Yoga (2017). He has authored many articles and book chapters on yoga history, and has edited four volumes of yoga scholarship. He is currently working on a book project on the relationship between Yoga and Technology.
PhD Candidate, SOAS, University of London
Ruth Westoby is a doctoral candidate at SOAS, University of London, researching for a doctoral thesis on the yogic body in premodern Sanskrit texts on haṭhayoga, and is also a longtime Ashtanga practitioner.
As well as offering workshops and lectures at studios and conferences, Ruth teaches on some of the principal teacher training programmes in the UK and beyond. Ruth facilitates Yogacampus’s online History of Yoga course and serves on the steering committee for the SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies.
Ruth began to explore yoga practices in 1996 and started teaching postural yoga in 2004. In 2010 she received an MA in Indian Religions from SOAS with Distinction. In 2016-17 Ruth collaborated with the Haṭha Yoga Project’s ‘embodied philology’, interpreting postures from the 18th-century Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati, an important textual precursor of modern yoga. The film has been showed as part of the Haṭha Yoga Project’s Embodied Liberation exhibition in 2020.
Dr. Ben Williams
Assistant Professor, Naropa University
Ben Williams is an intellectual historian focused on Indian religions and the history of Śaiva tantra. He has received extensive training in Indian philosophy, literature, and aesthetics in Sanskrit sources. Ben received a BA in Religious Studies from the University of Vermont, a Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and completed his PhD in the Department of South Asian Studies at Harvard University. He currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Hinduism at Naropa University, where he has recently co-created a low-residency MA program in Yoga Studies that will launch in fall 2020. Ben also serves on the academic advisory council of the Muktabodha Indological Research Institute, which is dedicated to the preservation of scriptural and philosophical texts of classical India.
Ben’s doctoral thesis is on revelation and the figure of the tantric guru in the writings of Abhinavagupta, an eminent intellectual figure of medieval Kashmir. Building upon this study, one of his current research projects is charting the transmission of tantric traditions to South India that are indebted to non-dual Śaiva teachings and lineages that originally flourished in Kashmir.
Dr. Dagmar Wujastyk
Associate Professor, University of Alberta
Dagmar Wujastyk is an Associate Professor in the department of History and Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Alberta. She is an Indologist specializing in the history and literature of classical Indian medicine (Ayurveda), iatrochemistry (Rasaśāstra), yoga, and South Asian history. Her publications include Modern and Global Ayurveda - Pluralism and Paradigms (SUNY Press) and Well-mannered medicine: Medical Ethics and Etiquette in the Sanskrit Medical Classics (OUP NY). She was the principal investigator of the ERC project Ayuryog, Entangled Histories of Yoga, Ayurveda and Alchemy in South Asia (2015-2020).
Buddhist Studies Faculty
Dr. Geoffrey Barstow
Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Oregon State University
Dr. Geoffrey Barstow first encountered Tibetan Buddhism in 1999, and since that time the study of Tibetan religion, history, and culture has been the focus of his professional life. For the last decade and a half, his research has focussed on the history and practice of vegetarianism on the Tibetan plateau, asking questions about how animals were viewed, how they were treated (i.e., eaten), what that can tell us about Tibetan Buddhism, and how Buddhist ideas about animal ethics might impact broader philosophical discussions. His published work includes Food of Sinful Demons: A History of Vegetarianism in Tibet (Columbia University Press) and The Faults of Meat: Tibetan Writings on Vegetarianism (Wisdom Publications).
Dr. Rebecca Bloom
Diane P. Stewart Assistant Director, Curatorial Affairs at the Southern Utah Museum of Art
Dr. Rebecca Bloom is a scholar and curator who specializes in Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhist material culture, and issues surrounding the intersection of religion and museums. She holds a BA in Art History and Religion from Middlebury College, an MA in Asian Religions from Yale Divinity School, and she recently received her PhD from the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan, where she also earned a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies.
Dr. Bloom began her career at the Rubin Museum of Art, where she curated and co-curated more than a dozen exhibitions of Tibetan and Himalayan art, as well as contemporary and historical photography. At the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, she co-curated a multi-year exhibition of Buddhist art entitled Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice across Asia, for which she designed the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room and created the related app, Sacred Spaces. Assembly of the Exalted: The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room, coauthored with Donald S. Lopez, Jr., focuses on the shrine’s history and its objects. Dr. Bloom also contributed to a multi-disciplinary project dedicated to the pilgrimage of the eighth-century, Korean monk, Hyecho. The project produced two apps, a website, and a book that each explore the world of Buddhism Hyecho encountered on his journey, with special attention paid to Buddhist material culture.
Dr. Daniel Cozort
Professor Emeritus of Religion at Dickinson College, Pennsylvania
Dr. Daniel Cozort retired from Dickinson College in June 2021, having taught for 37 years in many areas, but specializing in Tibetan Buddhism.
A native of North Dakota, Dr. Cozort graduated from Brown University, where he focused on Christian theology and ethics but encountered Buddhism through the Providence Zen Center. At the University of Virginia, as a student of Dr. Jeffrey Hopkins, he began his study with Tibetan lamas. He did a year of fieldwork in India, traveling broadly and staying in Tibetan monasteries.
In his teaching career, he created over forty courses, but he also curated art exhibits, directed study abroad programs in South India and in England, and made a film about sand mandalas. He is the author of six books, including Highest Yoga Tantra, Buddhist Philosophy, and Unique Tenets of the Middle Way Consequence School, as well as book chapters and articles. For thirteen years, he was the editor of the Journal of Buddhist Ethics. His most recent book is the Oxford Handbook of Buddhist Ethics (2018). He is currently compiling a new sourcebook for courses on Buddhism and climate change.
Dr. Jay Garfield
Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Philosophy, Logic and Buddhist Studies, Smith College
Jay L. Garfield chairs the Philosophy department at Smith College. He is also visiting professor of Buddhist philosophy at Harvard Divinity School, professor of philosophy at Melbourne University and adjunct professor of philosophy at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies.
Garfield’s research addresses topics in the foundations of cognitive science and the philosophy of mind; metaphysics; the history of modern Indian philosophy; topics in ethics, epistemology and the philosophy of logic; the philosophy of the Scottish enlightenment; methodology in cross-cultural interpretation; and topics in Buddhist philosophy, particularly Indo-Tibetan Madhyamaka and Yogācāra.
Garfield’s most recent books are Knowing Illusion: Bringing a Tibetan Debate into Contemporary Discourse (with the Yakherds, 2021), Buddhist Ethics: A Philosophical Exploration (2021), What Can’t Be Said: Paradox and Contradiction in East Asian Thought (with Yasuo Deguchi, Graham Priest, and Robert Sharf, 2021), Minds Without Fear: Philosophy in the Indian Renaissance (with Nalini Bhushan, 2017), Engaging Buddhism: Why it Matters to Philosophy (2015), Moonpaths: Ethics and Emptiness (with the Cowherds, 2015).
He recently finished a book on selves and persons, Losing Yourself: How to Be a Person Without a Self, to be published in February 2022, and is working on several other projects.
Dr. Kate Hartmann
Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies, University of Wyoming
Kate Hartmann is a scholar of Buddhism and professor of Buddhist studies. She received her PhD in Buddhist Studies from Harvard University in 2020. Her research explores the theory and practice of Tibetan pilgrimage to holy mountains, and focuses on the goal of transforming perception. She also holds an MA in the History of Religions from the University of Chicago, and a BA in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia. She is currently Assistant Professor of Buddhist Studies in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Wyoming.
As part of her training, Kate has spent extended periods of time living in Asia. She has spent summers backpacking across India, living with Tibetan Buddhist nuns in Ladakh, in Dharamsala working in the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, studying at the Dunhuang caves in China, travelling to Lhasa, and conducting research around Boudha in Nepal. She speaks modern colloquial Tibetan and conducts research in Classical Tibetan and Sanskrit.
Dr. Maria Heim
George Lyman Crosby 1896 & Stanley Warfield Crosby Professor in Religion, Amherst College
Maria Heim received her PhD from Harvard University in 1999, and was honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005. She currently chairs the Department of Religion at Amherst.
Heim works on Sanskrit and Pali textual traditions. She has written three books on Buddhaghosa (The Forerunner of All Things: Buddhaghosa on Mind, Intention, and Agency, Oxford, 2014; Voice of the Buddha: Buddhaghosa on the Immeasurable Words, Oxford 2018; and Buddhist Ethics, Cambridge, 2020). She is currently working on emotions in ancient and classical India, and her most recent book, A Treasury of Emotions from Classical India, is forthcoming from Princeton University Press. She is also translating the Milindapañha for the Murty Classical Library of India.
Dr. Stephen Jenkins
Professor of Religious Studies at Humboldt State University
Dr. Stephen Jenkins received his doctorate from Harvard University in 1999. Much of his career has been spent in Asia serving study abroad programs in India, Tibet, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Japan. His research has been primarily focused on Indian Buddhist concepts of compassion, their philosophical grounding, and their ethical implications.
Some recent publications include: The Circle of Compassion: An Interpretive Study of Karuṇā in Indian Buddhist Literature, Cambridge Buddhist Institute Series (2003), “Waking into Compassion: the Three Ālambana of Karuṇā,” in Moonpaths (2015), "Confronting the Harmful with Compassion," in Nonviolence in World Religions (2021), and "Compassion Blesses the Compassionate: The Basis of Social and Individual Wealth, Health, Happiness, Power and Security in Indian Buddhist Thought," in Buddhist Visions of the Good Life for All (2021).
Dr. Constance Kassor
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Lawrence University, Wisconsin
Dr. Constance Kassor is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Lawrence University in Wisconsin, where she teaches courses on Buddhist thought and Asian religious traditions. Prior to joining the Lawrence faculty in 2016, she taught Buddhist Studies at Smith College, Hampshire College, Amherst College, and the Rangjung Yeshe Institute in Nepal.
Connie’s research primarily focuses on Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, and she is interested in different ways that Tibetan Buddhist scholars understand the cultivation of knowledge. Her forthcoming book, Accounting for Awakened Awareness, examines the nature of knowledge through the lens of the 15th century philosopher Gorampa Sonam Senge. With support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Connie is also currently translating Gorampa’s extensive Madhyamaka treatise, Synopsis of Madhyamaka (dbu ma’i spyi don) into English, in collaboration with Khenpo Dr. Ngawang Jorden, principal and abbot of the International Buddhist Academy in Nepal.
Connie has spent several years living, working, and teaching in Buddhist communities in India and Nepal. In addition to her scholarly publications, she has written for Lion’s Roar and Tricycle, and has recently published an audio course for The Great Courses and Audible, titled Religious Lessons from Asia to the World. She is currently preparing a video course for The Great Courses, titled Tibet: History, Culture, and Religion, scheduled to be released in 2023.
Dr. Jue Liang
Current Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at Denison University, incoming Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Wittenberg University in Fall 2022
Dr. Jue Liang is a scholar of Tibetan Buddhist literature, history, and culture. She received her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia. Her dissertation, Conceiving the Mother of Tibet: The Life, Lives, and Afterlife of the Buddhist Saint Yeshe Tsogyel, examines the literary tradition surrounding the matron saint of Tibet, Yeshe Tsogyel, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It also presents the blossoming of this literary tradition in tandem with the efforts to trace their religious pedigree and define what counts as authentic Buddhism by Nyingma Tibetan Buddhists.
She is currently working on a second book project titled Who Is a Buddhist Feminist: Theorizing Gender and Religion in Contemporary Tibet. It is a study on the history, discourse, and social effects of the khenmo program, a gender-equality initiative that has been taking place at Tibetan Buddhist institutions in China for the past three decades. Jue is also an active participant in discussions on Buddhism in both academic and public forums.
Dr. Karin Meyers
Academic Director, Mangalam Research Center
Karin received a PhD with distinction from The University of Chicago Divinity School in 2010, and is currently Academic Director at Mangalam Research Center in Berkeley, CA. She has taught Buddhist Studies at several colleges and universities in the US and abroad, including Kathmandu University and Rangjung Yeshe Institute’s Centre for Buddhist Studies in Nepal, where she directed the Masters program in Buddhist Studies until returning to the US in 2017. Karin’s scholarly work focuses on bringing Buddhist perspectives to bear on cross-cultural and interdisciplinary inquiry into fundamental metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical questions. Karin has practiced Buddhism in Tibetan and Theravāda traditions and took a year in 2019 to serve as Retreat Support Fellow at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA. Before attending graduate school she worked at the Buddhist Peace Fellowship in the Bay Area and has recently returned to these socially engaged roots, promoting Buddhist activism in regard to the accelerating climate and ecological crisis.
As Academic Director at Mangalam Research Center, Karin teaches Buddhist Studies and language courses in Mangalam’s residential and public programs; host public talks, conversations, and conferences with scholars of Buddhist studies and related fields. Her mission is to help make scholarly research and classical Buddhist traditions accessible to Dharma practitioners, and to draw on these resources to support and inspire socially and ecologically engaged Buddhist thought and practice. Karin is also host of Buddhist Currents, conversations on current social, political, and ecological issues in light of Buddhist thought, history and practice. More information on the series and Karin's other projects can be found here.
Dr. Pierce Salguero
Professor of Asian History & Religious Studies, Penn State University's Abington College
Dr. Salguero is a transdisciplinary scholar of health humanities who is fascinated by historical and contemporary intersections between Buddhism, medicine, and crosscultural exchange. He holds a Ph.D. in History of Medicine from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (2010), and teaches Asian history, medicine, and religion at Penn State University’s Abington College, located near Philadelphia.
The major theme in his scholarship is discovering the role of Buddhism in the global transmission and local reception of knowledge about health, disease, and the body. He approaches this topic using methodologies from history, religious studies, translation studies, and literary studies. He is the author of numerous publications including the recent book, A Global History of Buddhism & Medicine (Columbia University, 2022).
Dr. Daniel M. Stuart
Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, University of South Carolina
Daniel M. Stuart's research focuses on the history of traditional Buddhist contemplative practices from their origins in premodern South Asia into the global present. He holds an MA in Sanskrit Literature and a PhD in Buddhist Studies from the University of California at Berkeley.
Dr. Stuart is particularly interested in how Asian thought systems, practice regimes, and cosmovisions converge in specific ways to form distinctive traditions of practice at particular moments in history. He has worked on a wide range of premodern Indian textual traditions, bringing to light lesser-known texts and unedited manuscripts in various Asian languages and scripts. He works with textual materials in Sanskrit, Pāli, Hindi, Gāndhārī, Buddhist Chinese and literary Tibetan. He has also spent nearly a decade in Asia as a student, as a research scholar, and as a practitioner of meditation. He is the author of four books: Thinking about Cessation, A Less Traveled Path, The Stream of Deathless Nectar, and S. N. Goenka: Emissary of Insight.
Sign up for the Yogic Studies mailing list to find out first about upcoming courses, podcast episodes, promotions, events, and the latest research delivered straight to your inbox.