Uncovering the ORIGINS of modern YOGA

This workshop will present the history and practice of the only sequential asana routine that has been preserved in a premodern manuscript


One hundred and twelve āsanas, many of which are based on the movements of animals, are described in an eighteenth-century yoga text called the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati, ‘a manual on the practice of Haṭhayoga’. 

The āsanas are divided into six sequences and some of them involve repetitive movement and require extraordinary strength and flexibility, as well as the use of rope. Many of these āsanas remain unknown to modern yoga practitioners.

We will introduce the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati with a general lecture on the practice it teaches and its place within the broader history of yoga. 


Obvious questions will be addressed, such as the text’s date and authorship, unique features of its content and the role of its āsanas within the system of yoga it teaches. The text’s contribution to the traditions of yoga at the Mysore Palace and its possible influence on Kṛṣṇamācārya will be discussed.

Then after, we will guide participants through a practice based on a truncated sequence using some of the more accessible āsanas in the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati. The Sanskrit descriptions and some nineteenth-century illustrations will be presented so that various possibilities and ambiguities for each āsana can be explored. 

The earliest known dog and cat poses, which are very different to those in modern yoga, will be included, as well as various birds and reptiles. The poses will be taught in a safe way with options to make it accessible for most body types.

About the teacher:


jason birchJason Birch is regarded as one of the world experts on the development of postural yoga in India. He did his PhD on the earliest yoga texts at Oxford University and is involved in groundbreaking scholarship on the development of yoga (see http://hyp.soas.ac.uk/). He is also a yoga teacher. 

Jason has developed a workshop, which he is teaching in London, that draws from a sequence of asanas taught in a Sanskrit text, which predates the posture sequences known in modern forms of yoga.


origingsJacqueline Hargreaves has a special interest in Indian Yoga traditions and Japanese Zen, and has been dedicated to the practice and teaching of Yoga and Meditation since 1998. She has travelled throughout India for fieldwork and studied meditation intensively for a year in a remote part of Japan. Her teaching combines the physical practices of haṭhayoga with the therapeutic application of mindfulness-based meditation. Jacqueline enjoys working specifically to assist those with chronic health issues, stress, anxiety and depression. She is a founding member of the Journal of Yoga Studies and The Luminescent, an independent, high-quality, evidence-based research hub for the history and practice of Yoga.