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ONLINE Kundalini: What have snakes got to do with Yoga? with Ruth Westoby

9th May 2021
at ONLINE via Zoom

ONLINE Kundalini: What have snakes got to do with Yoga? with Ruth Westoby

Tutor: Ruth Westoby

Date: 9th May 2021

Time: 10:00 - 17:00

Location: ONLINE via Zoom

Type of Event: Open Day

Places Available: 17

One-day online training on the history, practice, and symbolism of kuṇḍalinī, the serpent-like energy of the yogic body

Join Ruth Westoby, scholar-practitioner, for this unique training event on kuṇḍalinī, a key aspect of premodern haṭha yoga, much misunderstood in contemporary yoga. Ruth peels back the layers of Yogi Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga and Carl Jung’s psychological interpretation to situate ideas of kuṇḍalinī in premodern sources on Tantra and Haṭha. Drawing on iconography and textual sources such as the Gorakṣaśataka, Yogabījaand Khecarīvidyā Ruth describes kuṇḍalinī and its function in these sources. We will explore why kuṇḍalinī is gendered female when the primordial serpent, Ādiśeṣa, supporting the cosmos, is male. We will ask whether kuṇḍalinī is simply a metaphor imported from preceding world views or whether it has an integral function in the practice of yoga. Finally, we will explore the legacy and practical relevance of the concept of kuṇḍalinīin modern yoga.

Course structure

This training day will be delivered online and broken up into a series of short lectures, break-out group discussions, and whole group reflections and Q&As. In the lecture portions Ruth will summarise key concepts and contextualise them in order to create space for dialogue.

The course will not include practical instructions on working with kuṇḍalinīRuth will provide resources to explore in advance of the sessions and extensive resource suggestions for continuing your studies.

Expectations / entry-level

This course is designed for everyone who is curious about yoga. No prior study in the history and philosophy of yoga is required but familiarity will help. James Mallinson and Mark Singleton’s 2017 Roots of Yoga is an excellent book, especially the introductory sections, for the broad outlines of the history of yoga.

Ruth Westoby is a doctoral researcher in yoga and an Ashtanga practitioner. As well as offering workshops and lectures at studios and conferences, Ruth teaches on some of the principal teacher training programmes in the UK and beyond. Ruth is researching for a doctoral thesis on ‘Bodies in Haṭhayoga: Gender, Materiality and Power’ at SOAS under the supervision of James Mallinson. Ruth is on the steering committee for the SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies.

Ruth collaborated with the Haṭha Yoga Project’s ‘embodied philology’, interpreting postures from an 18th-century text teaching a precursor of modern yoga, the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati, in 2016 and 2017. Ruth began to explore yoga practices in 1996 and started teaching postural yoga in 2004. In 2010 she received an MA in Indian Religions from SOAS, University of London, with Distinction. Ruth has studied closely with Hamish Hendry and Richard Freeman. In 2015 she was authorized by Sharat to teach Ashtanga level 2.


See for workshops, writing and film. Ruth has an article in press for the journal Religions of South Asia on ‘Raising Rajas in Haṭhayoga and beyond’.


ONLINE via Zoom
ONLINE via Zoom


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