Yoga

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Philipp A. Maas
General Introduction[1]The late fourth or early fifth century Pātañjalayogaśāstra is the oldest preserved systematic Sanskrit exposition from a Brāhmaṇa milieu on spiritual liberation through meditation. It is divided into four chapters or quarters (pāda), each consisting of two frequently clearly…
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Shruti Chakraborty
Recent interest in yogic practices has coincided with the spread of gymnastics and bodybuilding. These were developed as a system of therapeutic movements, which is probably from where the phrase 'mind, body and spirit' emerged. Here we briefly trace the evolution of yoga, from before Patanjali’s …
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Karen O’Brien-Kop
Introduction Although a popular translation for the word ‘yoga’ is ‘union’, recent scholarship shows that throughout history the meanings of yoga have been multiple and subtly shifting: from the yoga-kṣema of the Vedic pastoralists (which indicated habitation cycles of movement and rest) to the…
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Ruth Westoby
 'Dabhoi Deity'; Mahudi Gate at Dabhoi in Gujarat. The gate was decorated c. 1220-1230 with depictions of various siddhas, gods and yogis, and includes what we believe to be the oldest known depictions of complex yoga postures. (Photo courtesy: Dr Mallinson and Dr Bevilacqua, March 2016, Haṭha Yoga…
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Suzanne Newcombe
  Introduction   Traditions promoting physical health and liberation (mokṣa) have often been in dialogue. When seen as a tool for liberation, the human body might need to be maintained at a certain standard of health. Historically, yoga and āyurveda are distinct traditions of knowledge and each…
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Mark Singleton
'Āsana image on 16th-century temple pillars at Hampi, Karnataka'. Photo by Dr James Mallinson and Dr Daniela Bevilacqua, Haṭha Yoga Project   Introduction   Yoga has ancient roots in the Indian subcontinent, where it has been practised for millennia (Mallinson and Singleton 2017). Although common,…
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Surangama Lala Dasgupta
  The meaning of mudra (gesture) in Sanskrit is mudam anandang rati dadati (‘that which gives ultimate joy’). Mudra has been an integral part of Indian heritage and culture since the Vedic period. It has been a part of rituals, dance and drama in India. Mudra, in itself, is a medium of practical…
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Graham Burns
'Cauraṅgi, Nāth siddha, from the caves at Panhale Kaji in Maharashtra'. Photo by Dr James Mallinson and Dr Daniela Bevilacqua, Haṭha Yoga Project.   Although meditative practices can be found in many (perhaps most) religious and spiritual traditions, as well as in more secular milieux in…
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These articles are part of a series on Sahapedia emerging from the Haṭha Yoga Project (HYP), a five-year (2015–20) research project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and based at SOAS, University of London. It aims at charting the history of physical yoga practice by means of philology…
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Daniel Simpson
'Matysendra, depicted on16th-century temple pillars at Hampi, Karnataka'. Photo by Dr James Mallinson and Dr Daniela Bevilacqua, Haṭha Yoga Project.   Control of the breath is one of the earliest recorded forms of yogic practice. It was described by the Buddha, who talked about trying it before his…
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