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Dr. Jason Birch

PhD in Oriental Studies: Oxford University | ERYT500
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Jason Birch received a doctorate in Oriental Studies from the University of Oxford in 2013. His area of research is the medieval yoga traditions of India, in particular, those called Haṭha- and Rājayoga. His thesis, which was supervised by Professor Alexis Sanderson, focused on the earliest extant Rājayoga text called the Amanaska. A critical edition and annotated translation of this Sanskrit text is accompanied by a monographic introduction, which examines the influence of earlier Śaiva tantric traditions on the Amanaska as well as the significance of the Amanaska in later yoga traditions.

In 2015, Jason worked on an ERC-funded project called Ayuryog at the University of Vienna, for which he wrote an article on the shared terminology, praxis and theory of āyurveda and medieval yoga traditions. In September 2015, he began work on the haṭha yoga project at SOAS London University where his focus is to edit and research manuscripts of Sanskrit yoga texts which were written on the eve of colonialism. Many of these texts provide a window into the Brahmanization of Haṭha- and Rājayoga and the proliferation of physical yoga techniques, some of which have become prominent in modern yoga, such as the practice of numerous āsana.

Jason has taught courses on the history of Rājayoga and Haṭhayoga at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and the Masters of Arts in Yoga Studies at Loyola Marymount University, and currently teaches a course on the history of medieval yoga for SOAS’ Master of Arts in Traditions of Yoga and Meditation. He also shares the fruits of his research with practitioners of yoga by contributing modules to various yoga training courses in Europe, Asia and Australia.

Jason also contributes to an open-access academic journal, The Luminescent.