ASIA 109
The Art of Yoga: Practice, Philosophy, Politics, Possibilities Spring 2025
Division I Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed THEA 109

Class Details

This course offers an immersive, interdisciplinary approach to hatha yoga, the branch of yoga that emphasizes bodily techniques for channeling energy, and achieving balance and quietude. It has been practiced and theorized variously in South Asia since ancient times. More recently, beginning in the late 19th century, it has been popularized throughout the globe, and has served as a source of inspiration for artists in various disciplines, including the theatre. Our work will follow four interrelated paths that will provide a broad context for our own experience and offer us tools for developing creativity: 1) We will dedicate ourselves to the careful study of the physical practice of yoga asanas, giving emphasis to biomechanical principles of alignment. Our study will include some basics of yoga anatomy; 2) We will study some allied philosophical principles, as they emerge from the Sanskrit text, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, and some current commentaries on that text, by means of expanding the significance of our practice to all areas of our lives; 3) We will attend to the cultural politics of yoga by discussing new scholarship on its ancient origins as well as critical inquiry about how issues of appropriation, Orientalism, and racism shape its current manifestations; 4) We will examine how artists have incorporated elements of yoga into their practice. To explore how yoga might support our own artistic and innovative thinking, we will pair our practice with creative exercises. In this way, the course aims to explore the relationship of theory and practice. It will be of interest to students in the arts and anyone interested in fostering artistry and the imagination. Students must be prepared to engage in a physical practice of asana, as well as commit to reading, writing, and discussion. No previous experience with yoga is required.
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 3195
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Students will write 3-page weekly papers, either in response to readings or embodied exercises, or the tutorial partner's essay. Written feedback will be given by instructor. Students will be expected to demonstrate that they are regularly practicing outside of class both by the quality of questions they bring to our sessions together, as well as their continuous refinement of the poses. Students will not be evaluated in relation to a standard, but according to their own dedicated and steady progress with respect to the experience of yoga practice. The evaluation process includes attendance.
Prerequisites: Prospective students will be asked to submit an online form with questions about their interest in the class.
Enrollment Preferences: Preference will be given to first-year students.
Materials/Lab Fee: $50 for yoga mat, belt, and balls.
Distributions: Division I Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
THEA 109 Division I ASIA 109 Division I
DPE Notes: Throughout the course we will reflect on the ways in which the knowledge created through yogic practice and philosophy disrupts and provincializes European epistemological systems. Moreover, we will engage in critical inquiry into the ways in which the global popularity of yoga is shaped by colonial legacies of Orientalist representation, as well as contemporary modes of cultural appropriation and consumerism.

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