International Day of Yoga 2019
FREE audio lecture + slides available for download. Recorded live at Triyoga Camden, UK on June 21, 2019.
In honor of the fourth annual International Day of Yoga (IDY), 2019, on a day where tens of millions around the world will be rolling out their “sticky mats” to engage in some form of yoga practice, this public talk will offer a timely reflection on yoga’s past, present, and future. Stepping back to take a big picture view of the history of “yoga”, we will examine yoga’s status in the contemporary global world and think critically about some of the key differences and continuities between yoga’s past and present. In particular, we will focus our attention on one of yoga’s earliest canonical Sanskrit texts, the Yogasūtra, to understand what yoga meant for classical Indian philosophy.
From celibate Śramaṇas and Brāhmaṇas, tapas and mokṣa, cakras and Kuṇḍalinī, to celebrity yogis and Lululemon pants, yoga patents, goat yoga, and virtual reality—if the author of the Yogasūtra was still alive today, and walked into your yoga class in 2019—what would Patañjali think?
Participants will walk away with new insights, depth, and humor, surveying the vast landscape of yoga; a clearer understanding of some of the key differences and similarities between modern and premodern yoga, and hopefully, further questions and directions for shaping the future of yoga.
Seth Powell is a longtime practitioner of yoga and a scholar of Indian religions, Sanskrit, and yoga traditions, and is the founder of Yogic Studies. He is currently a PhD Candidate in South Asian Religions at Harvard University, where he is writing his dissertation on the history, theory, and practice of medieval and early modern yoga traditions. Seth also holds degrees in the study of religion from the University of Washington (MA) and Humboldt State University (BA). He has taught and lectured for numerous university courses on the religions and literature of India, Hinduism, Buddhism, and yoga traditions, and presents his research regularly at international conferences.
As a scholar-practitioner, Seth is gifted in his ability to present the ancient teachings of yoga clearly in an accessible, light-hearted, and inspiring manner—while maintaining a rigor and sensitivity to traditional Indian knowledge systems. Seth conducts workshops and lectures regularly on the history and philosophy of yoga at studios, teacher trainings, and universities around the country.