Ancient Futures
Ancient Futures
How Healing is Yoga? – Daniel Simpson

How Healing is Yoga? – Daniel Simpson

Exploring the history of therapeutic practice, along with some limits...

And now for something (sort of) completely different. Instead of an interview, a talk I gave on Saturday on whether yoga is really a “path to holistic health”, to quote the title of a coffee-table book by B.K.S. Iyengar. The short answer? It’s complicated…

The subtle yogic body, from a manuscript in the British Library

The talk was part of a conference in Lampeter, at the University of Wales. Hosted in partnership with the College of Medicine (whose chair is head of King Charles’ “Royal Medical Household”), it was also attended by trustees of the British Wheel of Yoga.


I had the honour of speaking first, which meant setting the scene with a very brief history of medical yoga. Here’s the summary I shared in advance – it got rather more lively in both the delivery and the Q&A afterwards (included in this episode):

Yoga is nowadays known as a path to holistic health. However, its early incarnations were different. The body was originally an obstacle that had to be transcended for spiritual insight, so the therapeutic model was renouncing the world.

Over the centuries, philosophical shifts introduced new approaches that worked with the body and sought to transform it, dovetailing closely with Āyurvedic teachings. Since the mid-nineteenth century, traditional teachers have also sought to demonstrate yoga’s effectiveness by scientific means, developing frameworks for healing anything from back pain to complex trauma. This talk will unpack the evolution of yoga as therapy, highlighting themes that inspire contemporary applications.

You can hear it above or via podcast platforms. Let me know what you think in the comments – all questions are welcome!

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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.