YS 203 | The Haṭhapradīpikā

Lamp on Haṭha Yoga

28-hour online course
Now available for Self-Study

with Seth Powell (Harvard University)

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Study the classic Sanskrit yoga text, in an accessible and reliable manner.

Join Yogic Studies founder, Seth Powell (Harvard University), and a global cohort of students, for this unique opportunity to study the Haṭhapradīpikā

The "Lamp on Haṭha Yoga"

The Haṭhapradīpikā, more commonly known as the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā, or “Lamp on Haṭha Yoga” is the locus classicus of premodern Haṭhayoga traditions. Written by the yogin Svātmārāma in the first half of the fifteenth-century CE, this influential Sanskrit scripture is a profound treatise on the psychophysical techniques of haṭhayoga (“the yoga of force”). Divided into four chapters, and spread across about 390 verses, the Pradīpikā offers an illumination on the traditional teachings of Āsana (yogic postures), Prāṇāyāma (techniques for breath-control), Mudrā (energetic bodily seals), Samādhi (meditative absorption), and more.

Svātmārāma’s classical treatise is a compilation of prior Sanskrit yoga texts, and as such, offers an invaluable window onto the yogic practices en vogue in medieval India. The influence of this key Haṭha Yoga text is second to none, and helped make the physical techniques of yoga mainstream in early modern India. It has become one of the most translated Sanskrit texts, and continues to inspire practitioners of yoga around the world today. 

Although Svātmārāma wrote his “Lamp on Haṭha Yoga” in order to illuminate the “darkness caused by too many opinions” (bahumatadhvānte), unfortunately today, especially in an age of mass-information online, many confusions still abound. 
In this online course, together we’ll read closely the entire text, line by line—based on the original Sanskrit and an accessible English translation.

We will study and discuss the various methods of practice including—āsana, prāṇāyāma, kumbhaka, mudrā, bandha, ṣaṭkarma, yogic diet, the concept of Kuṇḍalinī, as well as the recommended locale for yoga practice (hint: it involves an isolated hut and lots of cow dung). We’ll consider the broader history and theory behind the practices laid out in the text, with special attention given to the influence of ascetic and tantric traditions. We will also examine the role and identity of the Haṭha Yoga practitioner—the question of householders vs. ascetics, female practitioners, and consider who had access to such practices during this time.

We will examine the important relationship between Haṭhayoga and other yoga systems such as Rājayoga, Mantrayoga, and Layayoga. And we will also discuss the significance and tension between the spiritual goals of the attainment of a "stone-like" state of Samādhi and the liberated-while-living state of Jīvanmukti—reflecting on similarities and differences with contemporary goals for yoga practice.

 

Students will leave the course with a much deeper appreciation and understanding of Haṭha Yoga in premodern India, sharper tools to critically read and engage a Sanskrit yoga treatise in translation, and clearer insight into how contemporary yoga practices relate or not to medieval Haṭha Yoga.

Textbook

We will be using the following English translation and edition of the text for this course. Students are expected to purchase their own versions prior to the start of the course.

  • Akers, Brian Dana (2002). Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Woodstock, NY: YogaVidya.
PURCHASE

All students enrolled in this course will receive:

  • 14 pre-recorded classes + audio files (2 hours each)
  • 7 Multiple Choice Quizzes (for fun)
  • Course Syllabus (PDF)
  • Sanskrit E-Text (PDF)
  • Additional Readings (PDF)
  • 5 YSACP Credits
  • 28 Hours of CE credit with YA
  • Yogic Studies Certificate upon completion (PDF)
  • Access to the private Yogic Studies Online Community Forum

Your Instructor

Seth Powell is a longtime practitioner of yoga and a scholar of Indian religions, Sanskrit, and yoga traditions, and is the founder and director 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. 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. 

You can listen to a recent Podcast interview with Seth here

Enrollment is OPEN!

Join the course with one of the following registration options:

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This course is eligible for 28 hours of Continued Education (CE) credits with Yoga Alliance

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