This course presents categorisations of yoga and gender from the Indian tradition and puts these into productive tension with theorisations of gender as found in critical studies.
– Ruth Westoby
This PodCourse is the first in a series entitled Yoga and Gender: Concepts, Histories, Impacts taught by Ruth Westoby, PhD Candidate at SOAS University of London.
‘Yoga and Gender: Concepts, Histories, Impacts’ is an introduction to gender in yoga. The course articulates key conceptual frameworks in gender studies drawing on categories articulated in the Indian tradition and putting these into productive tension with theorisations of gender as found in critical studies. Using these frameworks we will ask how gender impacts the techniques and practices available to female and male practitioners in the premodern period. Turning to the lived experiences of yoga—across both the premodern and modern periods—how does gender influence practitioners historically and socially?
This PodCourse focuses specifically on ‘concepts’ and is divided into three modules:
Gender in yoga has been little researched. New research is illuminating specific ways in which gender impacts yoga. This course offers a response to the inquiries of yoga enthusiasts about gender and yoga. The course introduces yoga and gender through theoretical or conceptual approaches. The course presents categorisations of yoga and gender from the Indian tradition and puts these into productive tension with theorisations of gender as found in critical studies.
The course unpacks gender and yoga through Indian theoretical concepts of soteriology or liberation in life or beyond life, questions the construction of time and history in how we approach yoga, considers gender as a coordinate in accounts of the creation of the world and philosophy, and lays out how gender and purity are approached in legal sources. The course dives deep into conceptions of sexuality, soteriology and social status to ask how gender delimits the practices of yoga available to women and men. A productive demarcation for the types of yoga available to women are worldviews directed towards renunciation from society and worldviews focused on social engagement. We also engage questions of gender essentialism and masculinity.
To reflect on yoga and gender from contemporary critical theoretical approaches the course introduces a broad range of critiques: orientalism, decolonialisation, post-colonialism, neoliberalism, gender construction and performativity, and critical race theory. Finally the course brings together Indian philosophy and practices of yoga as philosophic therapy to make an ambitious argument for this type of work being a practice of yoga.
The learning outcomes anticipated for this course are: