This eight-week lecture series will begin with a detailed examination of the earliest Rājayoga text known to have been written. It can be dated to the 11-12th centuries. We shall also examine many of the scattered references to Rājayoga in later medieval yoga texts, and conclude with Swāmī Vivekānanda’s book on Rājayoga, which is largely responsible for most of the twentieth-century interpretations of Rājayoga. Seeing that the history of Rājayoga is intimately connected with Haṭhayoga, this course will provide an explanation of how the relationship between the two has developed over the centuries.
Dr Jason Birch completed his doctoral thesis in 2013 on a twelfth-century Rājayoga text called the Amanaska, under the supervision of Alexis Sanderson at Oxford University. In 2014, he was a visiting scholar at Loyola Marymount University where he taught courses on the history of yoga for a Masters program in Yoga Studies. Dr Birch has taught Yoga professionally in Australasia and is currently researching several unpublished Sanskrit yoga manuscripts written between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, in an attempt to reconstruct the history of yoga on the eve of colonialism.