This online course explores the age-old connection between yoga and asceticism in India, through the world of the sādhus. We will look at the development of Hindu asceticism from both a historical and ethnographic point of view. Special attention will be given to the practice and the understanding of yoga and Haṭha Yoga by sādhus belonging to the main traditional Hindu ascetic groups present in India.
Through a comparison of past and present evidence, the course provides students with an overview of the different understandings and approaches that sādhus had, and have, towards physical yogic practice, and yoga as a religious discipline. It will also explore contemporary developments in the ascetic world which have more recently been influenced by the spread of transnational yoga.
Module 1 — Intro to Asceticism: Historical and Ethnographic Perspectives
Module 2 — Who is the Yogi? Insights from the Sādhus’ World
Module 3 — Entering the Ascetic World: Tapasyā and Yoga Sādhanā in Practice
Module 4 — Transnational Yoga and Sādhus: Future Developments?
Students Will Receive:
- 4 Video + Audio lectures (90 min)
- 4 Precorded Q&A sessions (90 min)
- 4 YS Credits
- 12 Hours of CE credit with YA
- Course Syllabus (PDF)
- Weekly Readings (PDF)
- 4 Multiple Choice Quizzes
- Yogic Studies Certificate (PDF)
- Access to the private Community Forum
Dr. Daniela Bevilacqua
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 doctoral 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 currently a Post-Doc Research Fellow at SOAS, working for the ERC funded Haṭha Yoga Project (2015-2020).
Through years of diligent fieldwork in India, she looks at the present practices of Haṭha Yoga among sādhus belonging to “traditional” sampradāyas. The purpose of this research is to confront ethnographic material with textual and historical evidences to reconstruct the development of these practices.
Her recent article, "Let the Sādhus Talk. Ascetic understanding of Haṭha Yoga and yogāsanas" will be a primary reading for this course.
This course is eligible for 12 hours of Continued Education (CE) credits with Yoga Alliance
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