The History of Asana Through Asana with Ruth Westoby

A history of āsana through āsana: Modes and methods of postural practice

This workshop will explore the history of āsana through the practice of āsana. We will take the long view, looking at textual descriptions and material evidence of postural practices from as long ago as 2,500 years. We will recreate and embody these practices, viscerally interacting with the past through the tissues of our bodies. We will also explore modes of instruction, from Sanskrit counted sequences to self-practice. This workshop will safely approximate historical forms in a manner appropriate for all levels of experience and ability.

About Ruth

Ruth Westoby is a doctoral researcher in yoga and an Ashtanga practitioner. Ruth runs workshops and teaches on some of the principle teacher training programmes in the UK. Ruth began to explore yoga practices in 1996 and started teaching postural yoga in 2004. The most influential teachers on Ruth’s practice have been Hamish Hendry, Richard Freeman and Sharat Jois. In 2010 she received an MA in Indian Religions from SOAS with Distinction. Ruth is researching for a doctoral thesis in constructions of gender in Sanskrit texts on haṭha yoga at SOAS under the supervision of James Mallinson. To this end she continues to study Sanskrit.

As well as teaching history and philosophy on teacher trainings in the UK and Nepal Ruth facilitates Yogacampus’s online course A Comprehensive History of Yoga. Ruth helps coordinate the SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies ( and has taught on SOAS’s Yoga Studies Summer School. Ruth has convened study groups on yoga and gender at SOAS to share the work of new and leading researchers in the field. Ruth collaborated in 2016 and 2017 with SOAS’s Haṭha Yoga Project interpreting postures from a precursor of modern yoga, the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati (

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