Exploring Yoga

A series of talks and discussion forums

(available by request)

How old is yoga?

Is yoga a philosophy, a science, a health and wellness activity, or a religion?

What do postures have to do with enlightenment?

Why is the Yogasūtra the most commonly studied yoga text?

Why does it seem like there are more women doing yoga than men?

There was a time when I thought the answers to these questions were fairly simple. Yoga is thousands and thousands of years old, right? The Yogasūtra is the first recorded text on the practice of yoga left for us by the sage Patañjali, right? During my university studies in world religions, I began to inquire into the history and philosophies of yoga, guided by questions just like these. What I discovered was a much more complex and fascinating story. Now I’d like to share what I’ve discovered with you.

Exploring Yoga aims to:

  • Challenge and clarify some popular notions about the history of yoga
  • Explore some of the many philosophical currents that make up the yoga we know today
  • Follow the stories of some important personalities who have helped shape the development of yoga
  • Consider some important contemporary ethical issues facing yoga teachers
  • Provide an introduction to the fascinating field of Modern Yoga Studies
  • Foster discussion, debate, and careful consideration of ideas and where they come from
  • Provide a space for like-minded folk to meet and share ideas outside of any specific yoga tradition

Discussion and debate have long been an important aspect of Indian spiritual traditions. Inspired by this type of knowledge sharing, Exploring Yoga aims to create a casual and friendly space to foster a detailed exploration of key ideas relevant to modern yoga. These sessions will be ideal for yoga teachers, trainee yoga teachers, and students who are keen to broaden their knowledge of yoga history, philosophy, and contemporary issues.

Each session will begin with a talk focusing on a key topic, followed by question time, and a casual discussion forum (with a cup of tea and a snack, both essential for thinking and sharing!).


Exploring Yoga Schedule

Unraveling the threads

Date: By request

In this talk we will begin to ask some of those tricky questions about yoga’s history. We will attempt to unravel the sometimes confusing and contradictory philosophical ideas we encounter in yoga and examine where these ideas came from.

A (brief) history of āsana

Date: By request

Commonly, the yoga we know today is heavily focussed on postural practice. In this session we will look at the development of postural practice and meet some of the major figures who have had a huge influence on the āsana based yoga we know today.

Sacred Texts

Date: By request

The Yogasūtra is considered a seminal text for modern yoga teachers, but was it always so important? Who was Patañjali anyway? And what’s up with all those ‘powers’ in the third chapter? In this session we will get to know more about the Yogasūtra from the perspective of modern yoga research.

Contemporary Ethics

Date: By request

This session will invite consideration and discussion on the ethical issues to do with yoga and gender. Jess will give an introduction to her research on yoga and gender, yoga representation, and body image. We will include plenty of time for debate and discussion during this thought provoking session!

Praise for Exploring Yoga

‘Really glad I came as it’s given me some ideas on future study. Very informative and thought provoking.’

‘This session was well thought out, thought provoking, and insightful.’

‘The entire presentation was fabulous, insightful, informative & well presented.’

‘Jess – your storytelling and the knowledge behind it is very engaging.’