Is yoga the practice, or the state it results in? Where did it come from and what is it for? It's often said yoga means “union”, but with what? How do modern classes relate to what's taught in ancient texts? If you’re curious about yoga philosophy, this afternoon workshop will help you explore it in practical ways. We’ll look at a range of definitions of yoga from traditional texts and put some of their theory into practice. The venue is Globe House Yoga, near London Bridge (Saturday, 9 November, 2:00 - 4:00 pm). Contact Daniel to book.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is often said to be the source of yogic teachings. Yet the text lists no postures, gives limited instructions and its ultimate goal is a state of isolation from worldly existence. So what makes it relevant to modern practitioners? Reading the sutras together – with reference to extracts from traditional commentaries – we will clarify their message and how it’s interpreted. Over four weekly sessions (from September 23, at Triyoga Camden), we will discuss how Patanjali’s ideas can be used to find freedom in embodied activity.
Control of the breath is one of the oldest yogic practices. Although modern classes are focused on postures, the main physical technique in early texts is pranayama. This is said to be the key to inward focus, and freedom from suffering. In this afternoon workshop at Globe House Yoga, near London Bridge (Saturday 14 September, 2:00 - 4:00 pm), we'll explore a variety of traditional methods, as well as discussing the theory behind them, along with their place in yoga history. Contact Daniel to book.
Modern yoga is focused on postures, but other forms of practice are even more powerful. Join us on a London rooftop for an uplifting fusion of physical methods and inner inquiry, with practical insights from yoga philosophy. This integrated workshop includes a playfully challenging postural sequence, traditional breath-work, silent sitting and a little bit of chanting. We conclude with a group discussion and Q&A. Our aim is to nurture independent practice. Book now for Saturday, 20 July (14:00-17:00).
Two of Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga highlight ethics. Although the Yoga Sutra’s teachings on yama and niyama have social aspects, their ultimate goal is renouncing the world. Unless we retreat like Iron Age ascetics, might they need rethinking? Are other rules more relevant to modern challenges, from social instability to environmental meltdown? Can yogic ethics be adapted to serve new priorities? Come and share ideas and discuss alternatives! Booking now for Sunday, 18 August (14:30 - 17:00), at Triyoga Camden.
Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now has inspired millions of readers to live in the moment, learning to let go of emotional pain and accept what happens. This involves seeing clearly how thoughts can control us. However, is there a risk that tuning out of the mind promotes dissociation, using spiritual ideas to avoid facing pain? Does it put too much faith in the power of the present? Over four weekly sessions (from June 18, at Triyoga Camden), we discuss the ideas behind Tolle’s teachings and ways to interpret them in practice.
An afternoon workshop of history and practice. Most postural yoga is technically called “hatha”. Nowadays, this term is often used for a gentler class, but its original meaning was “forceful”. We’ll explore where this came from and how it made yoga more dynamic, evolving into modern forms of practice. We’ll start with texts, looking at the first to teach “hatha” by name (the Dattatreya Yogashastra), then implement some of their teachings. Booking now for Saturday, 13 April (14:30 - 17:00), at Triyoga Shoreditch.
Can wisdom be taught or does it have to be lived? Siddhartha is a classic account of the spiritual quest, exploring a path between self-indulgence and self-discipline. Over four weekly sessions (from 18 Feb), we’ll read Hesse’s novel and discuss its themes. How do we find the right teacher? Can we follow our hearts without being ruled by desires? Does silence speak louder than words? Can fiction get closer to truth than philosophy and history? Come and share your ideas!
The start of the year brings a chance to reflect on what we want to develop and what needs letting go. In this workshop (on 6 Jan), we will explore these ideas through yogic texts and apply them in practice. Finding a balance of resolution and release is of vital importance in yoga philosophy. It’s the basis of guidance in the Yoga Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita. We will examine what this means by reading verses from both before exploring them practically.
It can feel daunting to study alone. We often have books that we’d like to explore, but don’t find time to sit and read. And even if we do, they might spark questions we struggle to answer. It helps to discuss ideas with someone else who offers structure and support. Whatever your priorities — from reading a text to a broader inquiry on how modern practice relates to tradition — we’ll focus clearly on your goals, devising a plan that helps achieve them. Online and in person (location permitting).
How do we find peace in the midst of life’s challenges? Does yoga detach us or help us to act? What is our purpose? These timeless questions are the heart of the story in the Bhagavad Gita. It can be read in an evening and shape a whole lifetime. Exploring it together, we will find our own ways to relate to its insights. Over three weekly sessions (starting 26 Nov), we will look in depth at the Gita’s ideas, from teachings on yoga to moral dilemmas.
This approach to yoga is dynamic and accessible. It is suitable for beginners as well as those with some experience. You don't have to be bendy, or exceptionally fit. Many sports stars use yoga to help them recover and stay injury-free: the practice helps to focus the mind while building strength and flexibility. Classes are on Sunday mornings (11.00-12.00) at Upper Rissington Village Hall. The cost for four sessions is £25. If you have any questions, please contact the teacher, Daniel Simpson.
Daniel’s next online course for the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies begins on 13 October. There are seven weekly lessons on yoga philosophy, with supplementary reading, a forum for discussion and an optional essay at the end of the course. Including all materials, it costs £110 (or $140). Enrol via the OCHS website, which has more details.
In the past 2,500 years, yoga has evolved from a way of transcending the world to a multi-billion-dollar industry. But where did it come from and what was it for? A Brief History of Yoga is a four-week course that puts practice in context, presenting an overview of how it developed. Accessible and fun, combined with academic depth, it explores common themes in yogic teachings, and their relevance today.