Explore what makes yoga authentic today…

Yoga: From the Past to the Future


  • Discover how yoga evolved and identify patterns
  • Distinguish historical facts from popular myths
  • Deepen connections with Indian traditions
  • Define your own role in what yoga becomes

Where modern yoga comes from, and what it might become

This course offers

the unique opportunity to

  • Cultivate diverse perspectives on how yoga evolves.
  • Apply this knowledge to find anchors in earlier traditions.
  • Study with the author of a comprehensive guide to yoga history and philosophy.

Practices based on sequences of non-seated postures have no precedent before the modern era, but they can still be grounded in earlier teachings.

This course reveals how ancient ideas have been reframed to keep yoga relevant as contexts change–a process we can emulate ourselves with respect for tradition.


Although yogic states are in many ways timeless, methods of practice have been transformed in recent centuries. A deeper understanding of the history of yoga can help to build a bridge between the past and the future.

This course reveals important themes that have shaped innovation, while preserving connections to what came before.

How can modern yoga be authentic if so many of its methods are recent inventions? What does it mean to be grounded in tradition in the modern yoga world, and how do we access it?

Highlighting themes that shaped yoga's development over the centuries, as well as influential contemporary trends, we will explore what connects innovations to earlier teachings. As a result, we can find our own ways to align what we do in our yoga practice with traditional wisdom.

This course will demystify how posture-based practices came to predominate in modern contexts.

Embodied Philosophy

Participants in this course will learn to:

  • Critically evaluate historical narratives
  • Understand their own place in the process of changeIdentify themes that connect innovations with earlier traditions
  • Refine awareness of contemporary concerns about authenticity
  • Develop a vision of how modern practice relates to the past
  • Articulate priorities for yoga’s evolution in the 21st century


Study at Your Own Pace

4 Video Recordings

10 Hours of Content

Three Bonus Resources

PDF Resources

Course Readings



Prioritising Postures

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For much of the history of yoga, the primary practice involved sitting still. Non-seated postures were first taught in texts 1,000 years ago, and were used as preparation for subtler techniques. Systems of practice based on sequences of postures only started to appear in the 20th century – along with many common postures, such as warriors and triangles. Innovative teachers often disguised how much was new, as well as where it came from, preferring instead to suggest things were timeless. This module demystifies the evolution of physical practice, from ancient asceticism via medieval haṭha to modern approaches – highlighting distinctions as well as commonalities.


Health and Wellness

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Early teachings on yoga saw the body as an obstacle to spiritual freedom. Its desires kept people entangled in cycles of suffering, so the answer was to focus within and disengage. Although medieval texts about haṭha-yoga describe physical benefits, their ultimate goal was still a trance-like state of meditation. Despite yoga's links to traditional medicine, the pursuit of well-being is a modern development. This module charts the shifts in objectives that led to the promotion of yoga as therapy, treating anything from back pain to trauma. It also highlights the influence of women on presenting holistic approaches to practice.


Union with Everything

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Modern yoga blends traditional teachings with other ideas, often blurring distinctions between different worldviews. Many teachers say yoga means union and comes from Patañjali, whose text says the opposite. This is partly because haṭha-yoga was explained through the prism of non-dual Tantra and Vedānta, supplanting the Yoga Sūtra's Sāṃkhya philosophy. This tendency accelerated in the 19th century, as influential figures from Vivekananda to Western esotericists highlighted theories that shaped the New Age. This module examines how eclectic thinking produces new practices – a process that continues in recent hybrids such as "Yin Yoga".


Rethinking Authenticity

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There has never been any such thing as "One True Yoga" – an ancient pure form that others corrupt. Theories and methods have been combined in different ways at different times, drawing inspiration from a wide range of sources. Globalization has been fuelling debates about who owns yoga, along with concerns about how to decolonize it – not least since the cultural exchanges between East and West that produced modern practice took place under British occupation of India. The last module examines this history and asks what comes next, reframing authenticity in personal terms – an inquiry into what preserves connections to earlier traditions.

Daniel Simpson

Daniel Simpson is the author of The Truth of Yoga, an accessible guide to yoga history and philosophy. His approach combines scholarly knowledge with humor and insight, informed by more than 20 years of practical experience. He holds a master's degree in yoga studies (from SOAS at the University of London) and teaches courses at the Oxford

Centre for Hindu Studies, on yoga teacher

trainings and via his website,


In a previous career, he was a foreign

correspondent, working for Reuters and

the New York Times.

Three Additional Bonuses Available for a Limited Time...

In this one-hour presentation, author-lecturer Joshua M. Greene provides listeners with a unique and exciting way to grasp the Gita’s core concepts and themes. This popular talk includes a summary of the Gita’s 18 chapters, an overview of Gita’s place in the history of spiritual journeys, and practical advice for bringing the Gita’s millennial wisdom into contemporary context.

Glimpses of what evolves into Yoga can be gleaned from early sources: the loving attention paid to animals and the seated seemingly meditative figures in the seals of the Indus Valley (ca. 3000 B.C.E.) as well as the invocation of tapas (purifying heat) in the Vedas (ca. 1500 B.C.E.). Chapple takes you from this early history to the Dattareyayogashastra (13th century) and the Hathapradipika (18th century), signaling the birth of what today is called modern Yoga.

Yoga on the Eve of Colonialism

with Jason Birch

Yoga History: Taking the Long View
with Christopher Key Chapple

The Hero's Journey

with Joshua Greene

Jason discusses research on Yoga, which involves ancient manuscripts of Yoga texts. He discusses some of the important Haṭha- and Rājayoga texts he’s working on, in particular, their content, who wrote them and their audience. He will focus mainly on the aspects of these premodern Yogas which might interest practitioners of modern Yoga and how an understanding of the history can change one’s perspective on what Yoga can be.

Yoga: From the Past to the Future

4 Modules | 10 Hours of Educational Videos

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One-Time Payment


/ $149

4-Module Course

  • 4 Video Recordings
  • 10 Hours of Video Content
  • PDF Readings
  • BONUS 1: The Hero's Journey (Video)
  • BONUS 2: Yoga History (Video)
  • BONUS 3: Yoga on the Eve of Colonialism (Video)



Auto-Debited Monthly | 7-Day Free Trial

  • 4 Video Recordings
  • 10 Hours of Video Content
  • PDF Readings
  • Yoga Classes
  • On Demand Course Archive
  • Monthly With-Ins: Community Chats
  • New Monthly Courses
  • Monthly Curated Learning Journeys
  • Quarterly Workshops
  • Members' Circle
  • Discount on Institute Certificate Programs

/ $97

Join author and practitioner Daniel Simpson for an insightful exploration of where modern yoga comes from, and what it might become.