The practice of yoga is often regarded as sequenced postures. But where did they come from and what were they for? The earliest texts that describe haṭha yoga have different priorities – making shapes with the body is merely a warm-up.
Join Daniel Simpson for a comprehensive guide to the Haṭha Pradīpikā, the best-known text about physical practice. Reading it together, we'll explore the different systems from which it emerged, and see how it relates to contemporary methods.
The latest research suggests something changed about 1,000 ago, with the appearance of non-seated postures and new forms of breath-control. Yet there's no sign of postures being linked into sequences until much more recently.
Instead, the aim of the Haṭha Pradīpikā – and the texts that inspired it, which we'll also consult – is to channel vital energy to steady the mind. That results in liberation in this lifetime, which sounds closer to modern objectives than earlier asceticism.
The course makes this history accessible, combining scholarly and practical knowledge with humour and insight. By the end, you'll have a deeper understanding of traditional haṭha, as well as how it differs from postural yoga.