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The Story of Yoga: A 2,500-year Visual and Textual History & Classical Yoga: The Yogasūtra of Patañjali

  • Ashtanga Yoga Napa Valley 2931 Solano Avenue Napa, CA, 94558 United States (map)

Join Seth Powell, PhD Candidate at Harvard University, for an exciting in person 2 class intensive that will provide you with an in-depth introduction to yoga’s multifaceted history and philosophy. 


Saturday September 15th 1:00pm - 6:00pm: 
The Story of Yoga: A 2,500-year Visual and Textual History

This class provides students with a foundational overview and the “big picture” of the
history of yoga. Drawing on the latest scholarship in yoga studies, together we will journey
from yoga’s shrouded origins as an ascetic tradition in ancient India, to the emergence of
postural yoga in the West and around the globe—an incredible journey that takes us from the
periphery of premodern Indian civilization to the center of modern American health and wellness! Along the way we will explore attempts to define “yoga”, the relationship between yoga philosophy and practice, the origins and history of yogic āsanas, the multi-billion dollar commercialization of India’s largest religio-cultural export, and much more. Debunking common misperceptions about yoga’s antiquity, we will uncover the incredible ways yoga has changed, innovated, and been adopted by millions of practitioners over the past 2,500 years!

Sunday September 16th 1:00pm - 6:00pm: 
Classical Yoga: The Yogasūtra of Patañjali

Looking to deepen your understanding of yoga beyond āsana? Curious about Indian philosophy? Wonder how yoga and meditation are related? In this workshop we will explore the ancient wisdom of yoga philosophy through the study of its classical Sanskrit text—the Yogasūtra of Patañjali. Seth will provide an introduction to the historical, philosophical, and religious context of the YS, and then we’ll engage in a close-reading of the text in translation, focusing on the first three pādas, or chapters. Together we’ll explore Patañjali’s definition of yoga, the nature and psychology of the mind, the cause of human suffering, the role of Īśvara (the "Lord"), and the progressive yogic path towards inner freedom outlined in the famous “eight limbs” of Aṣṭāṅgayoga. We’ll consider the spiritual ideals and challenges prescribed in the text, and think critically about how its ancient teachings might apply (or not) to our own contemporary lives and yoga practice. The session will include some Sanskrit chanting, light meditation, and plenty of space for questions, discussion, and reflection. Participants will walk away with a clear understanding of the basic philosophical framework of the YS, its technical vocabulary, and the tools to engage in further self study (svādhyāya).

* Hours for both courses may be applied to CE credits within the Yoga Alliance.

Individual Session Tuition: $55
Both Sessions together: $95

AYNV Membership discounts apply 

About Seth:


Seth Powell is a longtime practitioner of yoga and a scholar of Indian religions, Sanskrit, and
yoga traditions, and is the founder of Yogic Studies. He is currently a PhD Candidate in South
Asian Religions at Harvard University. His research focuses on the history, theory, and practice of medieval and early modern Sanskrit yoga texts and traditions, as well as their intersections with the culture and practice of modern transnational yoga. Seth also holds degrees in the study of religion from the University of Washington (MA) and Humboldt State University (BA). As a scholar-practitioner, Seth is gifted in his ability to present the ancient teachings of yoga clearly in an accessible, light-hearted, and inspiring manner—while maintaining a rigor and sensitivity to traditional Indian knowledge systems. Seth conducts workshops and lectures regularly on the history and philosophy of yoga at studios, teacher trainings, and universities around the country.

You can find him online at