In this episode, we speak with Ruth Westoby (PhD Candidate, SOAS) about her background in Ashtanga, her doctoral research on women and gender in the history of yoga, female practitioners of Haṭha yoga and asceticism, frameworks for understanding the yogic body, rajas and bindu, as well as a preview of her upcoming online course, YS 111 | Women and Yoga: A History of Female Practitioners.
Ruth Westoby is a doctoral candidate at SOAS, University of London, researching for a doctoral thesis on the yogic body in premodern Sanskrit texts on haṭhayoga, under the supervision of Dr. James Mallinson.
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. She facilitates Yogacampus’ online History of Yoga course and serves on the steering committee for the SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies.
Ruth is also a longtime Ashtanga practitioner. She 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 with Distinction. In 2016-17 Ruth collaborated with the Haṭha Yoga Project’s ‘embodied philology’, interpreting postures from the 18th-century Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati, an important textual precursor of modern yoga. The film has been showed as part of the Haṭha Yoga Project’s Embodied Liberation exhibition in 2020.