Join Seth Powell, PhD Candidate at Harvard University, for an exciting 6-week online course that will provide you with an in-depth introduction to yoga’s multifaceted history and philosophy. Through weekly video lectures, slides, PDF handouts, quizzes, and optional readings, together we will journey from yoga’s shrouded origins as an ascetic tradition in ancient India, to the emergence of postural yoga in the West and around the globe—a journey that takes us from the periphery of premodern Indian civilization to the center of modern American health and wellness.
In this new online format, Seth will offer in a personable and truly accessible manner, some of the latest and most exciting research in yoga studies—illuminating yoga’s past and present. Along the way, we will debunk common misperceptions about yoga’s antiquity and uncover the incredible ways yoga has changed, innovated, and been adopted by millions of practitioners over the past 2,500 years!
As the global popularity of yoga has exploded in recent years—with over 30 million practitioners in the U.S. alone—so too, the past decade has witnessed a renaissance in the academic study of yoga. Much of this research has revolutionized our understanding of yoga's history and philosophical traditions. Breakthroughs have been made on the origins of modern postural yoga, the texts and traditions of medieval Haṭhayoga, the relationship between the Yogasūtra and Buddhism, and new evidence for the chronology of yogic postures, to name but a few areas of budding research.
This course offers you an exciting overview of the latest yogic research, delivered through weekly video lectures and slides in a digestible, chronological, and easy-to-follow manner, using the latest technologies in online learning.
Every Sunday evening, the weekly module will be released. You will receive the 90-120 minute video lecture, a fun quiz to test your knowledge as you go, occasional PDF handouts, and optional suggested readings suggested from the Syllabus.
Every Friday there will be a 1-hour Facebook Live Q&A session for a chance to review and go deeper into the weekly materials.
For those who like to think in terms of hours, the course videos add up to approximately 18 hours of materials. Depending on how much time you choose to put into the quizzes and readings, it could extend beyond that.
Follow along anywhere, online, with any computer or device. You can even take the course using the Teachable iOS app on your phone or iPad!
To build community, and to create an even more active and dynamic classroom, there will also be a private pop-up Facebook group for enrolled students only. Here students can interact, post questions, and reflections, as well as access the recordings of the weekly Facebook Live Question & Answer sessions.
Seth Powell is a longtime practitioner of yoga and a scholar of Indian religions, Sanskrit, and yoga traditions, and is the founder of Yogic Studies. He is currently a PhD Candidate in South Asian Religions at Harvard University, where he is writing his dissertation on the history, theory, and practice of medieval and early modern yoga traditions. Seth also holds degrees in the study of religion from the University of Washington (MA) and Humboldt State University (BA). He has taught and lectured for numerous university courses on the religions and literature of India, Hinduism, Buddhism, and yoga traditions, and presents his research regularly at international conferences.
As a scholar-practitioner, Seth is gifted in his ability to present the ancient teachings of yoga clearly in an accessible, light-hearted, and inspiring manner—while maintaining a rigor and sensitivity to traditional Indian knowledge systems. Seth conducts workshops and lectures regularly on the history and philosophy of yoga at studios, teacher trainings, and universities around the country. You can find him online at www.yogicstudies.com.
“Seth Powell is at the forefront of a new generation of yoga scholars, and rare among them in that he combines textual studies, fieldwork in India, and a practical understanding of yoga in his scholarship. It’s great that he’s reaching out beyond the academy to share his hard-earned knowledge.”
Dr. James Mallinson, Senior Lecturer in Sanskrit and Classical and Indian Studies, SOAS, University of London
“Yogic Studies provides a great opportunity to work with Seth Powell, the rare person who combines long years in a personal practice of yoga, deep learning in the ancient and modern texts of yoga, and all the gifts you could hope to find in a teacher who understands the needs and hopes of today’s yoga practitioners. Definitely a unique and valuable opportunity, not to be missed.”
Dr. Francis X. Clooney, SJ, Parkman Professor of Divinity, Harvard University
“Seth Powell has created courses for Yogic Studies that engage the yoga practitioner in an honest, insightful and inspiring dialogue, bringing ancient practices into modern conversations. By illuminating the historical, cultural and social context of yoga, we come to see and understand the emergence and popularity of modern postural yoga as an ever evolving expression of the seeker’s journey toward self-development and ultimately self realization.”
Nikki Costello, Founder of The Practice, CIYT, C-IAYT
"Seth knows his stuff! Each week his material was clearly and accessibly presented, completely relevant, and helpfully illustrated. Unlike many academics researching yoga today, Seth's talks were uncluttered with academic jargon, yet he never once talked down to his audience. His smile and enthusiasm were infectious, I looked forward with anticipation to each week's release... This is a terrific introduction to the history and philosophy of yoga, highly recommended to any serious student."
Richard Rosen, Yoga Teacher, Author of "Original Yoga: Rediscovering Traditional Practices of Hatha Yoga"
"This course was exactly what I needed. The term 'yoga' and its history have become so politicized and weaponized, it's hard—but crucially important, especially for yoga teachers—to separate myth from fact. Seth gently lays out the historical evidence alongside various existing narratives with clarity and compassion."
Nerine Guinée, Yoga Teacher, Amman, Jordan
"To everyone who takes a yogic way of life seriously this course is fundamental. Seth Powell is a young and active scholar not just with deep knowledge about yoga, but also a great and kind teacher who generously explains the history of yoga, clearing misconceptions and encouraging everyone to continue studying."
Macarena González Carmona, Iyengar Yoga Teacher, Chile
"The course was more than I expected covering the History and Philosophy of Yoga in an intelligent and easy to follow weekly structure. Each topic was relevant to my personal study and yoga practice. The content was very up to date covering the latest scholarly findings and the weekly live Facebook were like having a personal tutor. Seth's approach was relaxed and easy going while maintaining a high standard of academic information."
Recent Student, An Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Yoga
"I signed on for this course, having previously undertaken considerable study of yoga philosophy and texts in the Himalayan Tradition and the traditions of Desikachar and, more broadly, Krishnamacharya. I had previously also had direct limited exposure to some of the academic practitioners who are today working in the fields of Hatha Yoga and Tantra. I had come across something from Seth which suggested he had a clarity and dispassion that I felt would enhance my current understanding and practice, and I was not disappointed. Probably my expectations, whatever they were, have been exceeded. I found the lectures compelling listening, even when they covered familiar material, and there were many points of nuance and learning throughout. I would recommend this course to both students new to yoga studies and those with more experience. It is very helpful to revisit familiar ground without the obvious biases of particular traditions.
Recent Student, An Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Yoga