Jason Birch received a doctorate in Oriental Studies from the University of Oxford in 2013. His area of research is the medieval yoga traditions of India, in particular, those called Haṭha- and Rājayoga. His thesis, which was supervised by Professor Alexis Sanderson, focused on the earliest extant Rājayoga text called the Amanaska. A critical edition and annotated translation of this Sanskrit text is accompanied by a monographic introduction, which examines the influence of earlier Śaiva tantric traditions on the Amanaska as well as the significance of the Amanaska in later yoga traditions.
In 2015, Jason worked on an ERC-funded project called Ayuryog at the University of Vienna, for which he wrote an article on the shared terminology, praxis and theory of āyurveda and medieval yoga traditions. From September 2015-2020, he worked on the Haṭhayoga project at SOAS London University where his focus is to edit and research manuscripts of Sanskrit yoga texts which were written on the eve of colonialism. Many of these texts provide a window into the Brahmanization of Haṭha- and Rājayoga and the proliferation of physical yoga techniques, some of which have become prominent in modern yoga, such as the practice of numerous āsana.
Jason has taught courses on the history of Rājayoga and Haṭhayoga at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and the Masters of Arts in Yoga Studies at Loyola Marymount University, and for SOAS’ Master of Arts in Traditions of Yoga and Meditation. He also shares the fruits of his research with practitioners of yoga by contributing modules to various yoga training courses in Europe, Asia and Australia.
From January 2021, Jason will be working on a three year project entitled “Light on Hatha Yoga: A critical edition and translation of the Haṭhapradīpikā, the most important premodern text on physical yoga” funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the German Research Foundation Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). This project is a collaboration between SOAS University of London, Philipps-Universität Marburg and the École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO) in Pondicherry, India.
Jason also contributes to http://theluminescent.blogspot.it/
2020. “The Quest for Liberation-in-Life. A Survey of Early Haṭha and Rāja Yoga.” Oxford: Oxford University Press. Chapter 8. Retrieved from: https://www.academia.edu/44672605/The_Quest_for_Liberation_in_Life_A_Survey_of_Early_Works_on_Haṭha_and_Rājayoga
2020. “Haṭhayoga’s Floruit on the Eve of Colonialism.” Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill. Chapter 19: 451–479. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004432802_021
2019. with M. Singleton “The Yoga of the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati: Haṭhayoga on the Cusp of Modernity.” Journal of Yoga Studies, Vol. 2 (2019): 3–70. DOI: https://doi.org/10.34000/JoYS.2019.V2.002
2019. “The Amaraughaprabodha: New Evidence on the Manuscript Transmission of an Early Work on Haṭha- and Rājayoga.” Journal of Indian Philosophy, 47 (2019): 947–977. Springer. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10781-019-09401-5
2018 (submitted 2013). “The Proliferation of Āsana-s in Late Mediaeval Yoga Texts.” Vienna: V&R Vienna University Press. Chapter 3: 101–180. Retrieved from: https://www.vandenhoeck-ruprecht-verlage.com/media/pdf/9f/78/68/OA_978-3-7370-0862-4.pdf
2018. “Premodern Yoga Traditions and Ayurveda: Preliminary Remarks on Shared Terminology, Theory and Praxis.” History of Science in South Asia, Vol. 6 (April): 1–83. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18732/hssa.v6i0.25
2015. “The Yogataravali and the Hidden History of Yoga”, Namarupa Magazine, Issue 20 (Spring 2015)
2013. ‘The Amanaska: King of All Yogas: A Critical Edition and Annotated Translation with a Monographic Introduction.’ DPhil Thesis, Oxford.
2013. ‘Rājayoga: The Reincarnations of the King of All Yogas’, The International Journal of Hindu Studies, 17, 3: 401–444.
2011 – ‘The Meaning of haṭha in Early Haṭhayoga’, The Journal of the American Oriental Society, 131.4.
2011 – “Universalist and Missionary Jainism: Jain Yoga of the Terāpanthī Tradition” in Yoga in Practice, Ed David White, University of Chicago Press
Some of Jason’s work can be downloaded from his academia.edu webpage at: https://ochs.academia.edu/jasonbirch