Haṭha Yoga from a Historical and Ethnographic Perspective

From Tapas to Modern Yoga - Sādhus’ Understanding of Embodied Practices - Daniela Bevilacqua

Daniela Bevilacqua [+-]
SOAS, University of London
Daniela Bevilacqua (Rome 1983) received her PhD in 2015, in Civilizations of Africa and Asia from Sapienza University of Rome and in Anthropology from the University of Paris Nanterre. Her PhD research was published by Routledge (2018) under the title Modern Hindu Traditionalism in Contemporary India: The Śrī Maṭh and the Jagadguru Rāmānandācārya in the Evolution of the Rāmānandī Sampradāya. She is a Research Associate at SOAS, after working for the ERC-funded Hatha Yoga Project (2015-2020). Her research has aroused particular interest because of its methodology and results. Her article, “Let the Sādhus Talk. Ascetic understanding of Haṭha Yoga and yogāsanas”, published in Religions of South Asia, (Vol 11, n. 2, pp. 182-206) has been translated in German, French and Portuguese. She has been invited to give lectures in various universities (Cambridge, London, Haifa, Prague, Turin, Milan) as well as to present her research in various yoga teacher training courses and yoga studios. She has published several articles in peer review journals and book chapters for publishers like Routledge and Palgrave on Hindu asceticism, female asceticism, etc. She is currently editing two volumes, one forthcoming for Amsterdam University Press and another will be a special issue of the Journal of Yoga Studies (JoYS).


Chapter 4 deals with haṭha yoga. It initially considers definitions and the development of the label and its related practices found in Sanskrit textual sources. Then, it looks for haṭha yoga in vernacular sources, highlighting the absence of this label with the exceptions of a few references that, nevertheless, link it to tapasyā. This ‘vernacular’ understanding is then related to the understandings of haṭha yoga among contemporary sādhus. These emic understandings are here properly analyzed since they open up new scenarios for interpreting the role and audience of haṭha yoga textual sources.

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Bevilacqua, Daniela. Haṭha Yoga from a Historical and Ethnographic Perspective. From Tapas to Modern Yoga - Sādhus’ Understanding of Embodied Practices. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Mar 2024. ISBN 9781000000000. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=44381. Date accessed: 08 Dec 2022 doi: 10.1558/equinox.44381. Mar 2024

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