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Contemporary yoga as a practice of philosophy

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Global and German Ashtanga Yoga and its understanding of yoga philosophy

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After a short introduction to what I call "Contemporary Yoga Philosophy", which is based on recent takes on Patañjali's Yogasūtra, I will outline my research area: global and German Ashtanga Yoga and its understanding of yoga philosophy. Through diverse, intercultural exchange processes, the view that the practice itself is a philosophical practice has been consolidated in today's Ashtanga Yoga. This has implications on the performance of the body practice as well as on the understanding of philosophical concepts, which are nevertheless framed with Sanskrit terms. From this observation comes the question of how to research such a phenomenon, in which bodily practice and philosophical concepts are closely interwoven. To this end, using a few concrete examples from my empirical data generated in an Advanced Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training in Germany, I present a religio-aesthetic theorization of body knowledge that conceptualizes it as a biocultural domain and can hopefully be helpful for similar research projects. At the same time, the talk reveals a concrete view on an example of today's practical yoga philosophy as it is formed without much influence of Indological expertise, as it has been the case throughout the 20th century.

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Speaker Biography

Laura von Ostrowski studied Indology and Religious Studies at LMU Munich and received her PhD in Religious Studies from LMU. From 2015-2018, she was a fellow of the German Research foundation (DFG) Training Group "Presence and Implicit Knowledge" at FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg.

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Organiser SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies

Organiser of Contemporary yoga as a practice of philosophy

SOAS is leading the way in the new field of yoga studies, which is growing rapidly around the globe. We host the Hatha Yoga Project, a research initiative funded by the European Research Council, which will chart the history of physical yoga practices, and we are one of only four universities in the world to offer an MA in Yoga and Meditation. The Centre of Yoga Studies is a hub for scholars, students and all those interested in yoga and hosts lecture series, seminars and workshops in order to share our work, learn from that of others and develop new collaborations.

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