Ancient Futures
Ancient Futures
Becoming Immortal – Jason Birch
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Becoming Immortal – Jason Birch

How physical yoga began, and making sense of it today
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Long before yoga was synonymous with postures, what was the original practice called haṭha? As the scholar Jason Birch explains, medieval yogis used a three-part sequence of physical methods to raise vital energy and empty their minds, with the ultimate objective of transcending death. Scroll down for a video…

Jason Birch examines a manuscript

What might practitioners learn from this system, and other recent findings? Is haṭha yoga needed for liberating insights? What does it mean to become immortal? Are the subtle components of yogic anatomy always involved? Do different approaches reach similar goals? Is academic work informed by practice, or are the two separate?

Our conversation discusses these questions, among many others. We also talk about Jason’s book, The Amaraugha and Amaraughaprabodha of Gorakṣanātha: The Genesis of Haṭha and Rājayoga, and his work on other texts such as the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati (on which more here, and in this article exploring connections to modern practice).

Jason earned his doctorate from Oxford, where he’s now an associate of the faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. He contributes to multiple projects, and is writing more books, including several translations. You can follow his work at academia.edu, or via The Luminescent, which Jason co-founded with Jacqueline Hargreaves.

For more on the history of haṭha, as well as immersions in texts and traditions, join me for an online course at truthofyoga.com.


VIDEO

Demonstration by Jason Birch of the three-part practice in the Amaraugha.

Each mudrā begins with an inhalation through the mouth, before applying the chin lock to hold the breath in mahāmudrā, then adding the root lock for mahābandha, and bringing the heels together to tap the perineum in mahāvedha.


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Ancient Futures
Ancient Futures
Timeless wisdom for modern dilemmas, combining yoga philosophy, practical insight and critical thinking. Hosted by Daniel Simpson.