Yoga in Tibetan Buddhism refers to a diversity of methods and techniques that are transmitted orally, based on practices encoded in tantric Buddhist texts originating, in written form, from the sixth century. Although Tibet’s pre-Buddhist tradition of Bon also transmits yogic practices based on breath and movement, this course focuses on methods and techniques of yoga taught within diverse lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, beginning with the Guhyasamāja Tantra, in which the word haṭha refers to a physical technique for inducing visionary appearances so as to enter into deeper states of meditative equipoise.
The course investigates the diverse cultural and religious influences which contributed to the development of Tibetan yoga, and in particular to the practice of trulkhor, sequenced movements which entrain body, breath, and mind towards dynamic synchrony in support of self-transcendent gnosis, or bodhi. Connections will be explored with ritual dance forms within Vajrayāna Buddhism as well as Trulkhor’s foundational role in the ‘Six Yogas of Naropā’, which awaken the tantric yogic body (gyülu) through embodied practices of fierce heat (tummo and karmamudrā) and radiant light (ösel, milam, and bardo yoga).
In exploring the history and function of physical practices within both monastic and non-monastic forms of Tibetan Buddhism, this course will illuminate the progressive approaches of Mahāyoga, Anuyoga, and Atiyoga and their correlation with Generation, Completion, and Great Perfection (Dzogchen) stages of yogic realization. Lastly, the course will explore the ways in which practices of Tibetan yoga have been investigated scientifically towards a deeper appreciation of voluntary control of the autonomic nervous system and contemplative interventions that extend the range of human connection and compassion, beyond the disempowering illusion of separateness and other habits of discontent.
Module 1 — TIBET’S CHAMBER OF SECRETS: A Visual History of Tantric Buddhist Yoga
Module 2 — YOGAS OF FIRE AND LIGHT: The Flow of Illuminating Nectar
Module 3 — BEING, CONSCIOUSNESS, AND BLISS: Embodying Self-Transcendent Rapture
Module 4 — LIBERATING THE MYSTERIES: Science, Systemic Compassion, and the Tantric Commons
Tibetan Yoga: Principles and Practices (2019)
In addition to other PDFs which will be provided for enrollees, students will be assigned chapter readings from Dr. Ian Baker's latest book. While not required for participation in the course, students are encouraged to purchase a copy in advance of the course.PURCHASE
Students Will Receive:
- 4 Pre-recorded Video + Audio lectures (90 min)
- 4 Pre-recorded 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. 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.
"This course really challenges the assumption of Yoga being a uniquely Indian tradition. It shifts the discussion around yoga towards what are efficient and beneficial practices for our times: this has always been the concern of the Tantric traditions which have flourished in Tibet up until the present time. Here we encounter a living tradition taught by an excellent scholar-practitioner who clearly walks the talk!"
— YS 110 Student
"Dr. Ian A. Baker offered a fantastic, clear, and in-depth overview of the history, philosophy, and methods of Tibetan Buddhist forms of embodied spiritual practice. In finding ways to translate the concepts, methods, and values of this ancient system of yoga to the West, without losing depth and subtlety, Dr. Baker shows his expertise. We need Western teachers that undertake the Tibetan journey and Tibetan teachers that undertake the Western journey. Dr. Ian A. Baker, belonging to the first, is a bright and helpful light in this meticulous and sensitive task. He is not afraid to say what needs to be said, without losing consideration and precision."
— Sydney Leijenhorst, Wageningen, Netherlands
"YS 110 offers a thought-provoking and beautifully documented introduction to Yogic systems from Tibet. Dr. Baker masterfully guides the student through up-until-recently-secret teachings from murals on in the Lukhang Temple in Tibet. You've heard of Inner Fire or Tummo practice - now come explore the cultural and historical context of that practice and how it connects to Dzogchen. Highly recommended! "
— Jeff Berry, PhD, Salt Lake City, UT USA
"Dr. Baker presents complex Tibetan yogic traditions in an understandable, comprehensive fashion with a scholar's wisdom. He packed a semester of graduate study into 12 hours. Wow! Many thanks!"
— Ro Rollings, Savannah GA USA
This course is eligible for 12 hours of Continued Education (CE) credits with Yoga Alliance
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