SOAS alumna Ruth McNeil is currently co-organising an online yoga event called Yoga for HOPE in aid of The Hope Foundation.
Yoga for HOPE 2021
Yoga for HOPE offers a diverse range of online classes throughout January 2021 from Family Yoga to Qigong; Vinyasa Flow to Yoga Nidra; Spinal Therapeutics to Face Yoga.
All proceeds will be donated to The Hope Foundation to support projects in Kolkata, which has faced both Covid-19 and Cyclone Amphan in 2020.
Ruth studied MA Traditions of Yoga and Meditation at SOAS, and describes her experiences of the programme.
What made you choose SOAS as a place to study?
SOAS has so much to offer with its rich history in the research of South Asian traditions, plus a fantastic library and first rate teachers. SOAS is pretty unique in offering an MA in Traditions of Yoga and Meditation. SOAS is known for its diverse and international student body with a progressive stance on politics, social justice and academic decolonisation.
Why did you take the MA Traditions of Yoga and Meditation programme?
I was attracted to the MA Traditions of Yoga and Meditation because I wanted to deepen my knowledge of yoga. Although I studied, practiced and taught yoga for many years before starting the MA, it became apparent to me that there were certain areas that are not explored or are obscured within the landscape of contemporary yoga teaching. I hoped that the programme would address these issues in a critical and evaluative way. Additionally, it was appealing that this MA promotes the study of Buddhist and Jaina meditative traditions in South Asia, which provide necessary cultural context for yoga studies.
How did you enjoy the programme?
I took the MA as a part-time mature student which made it an enjoyable experience as I was able to fit in study around work and family life. By studying over three years I could spread out the modules, which meant I had more time to read around the subject at my leisure. I found returning to study after a long hiatus challenging at first, but I developed and improved the ability for academic writing and research skills over time through the process of writing each essay. I didn’t feel confident with this process at all at the beginning of the course, but got to grips with it by the end of the programme and could feel the difference in the quality of my work. Ulrich, the programme convenor, is very supportive and approachable which was a big help.
And particular highlights?
Mind-opening lectures; the busting of yoga myths; the diversity of options for the open choice module; the formation of the Centre of Yoga Studies, which runs a diverse programme of free evening lectures; the Hatha Yoga Project exhibition at the Brunei Gallery at the beginning of 2020; meeting lots of interesting people, I could go on…!
What was it like being a student in London?
Fantastic! Not sure what more a student could want than being a student in London. Whatever you are interested in, you will be able to find it and enjoy it here.
How did you cope with studying during a pandemic?
The main struggle was writing my dissertation without access to the library; writing at home wasn’t ideal, but manageable in the end. Fortunately, it was possible to borrow books, even when the library was closed.
And your ambitions upon graduating?
To publish and do a PhD.
MA Traditions of Yoga and Meditation
The MA Traditions of Yoga and Meditation degree explores the origins and historical development of yoga and meditation in India and Tibet, from ancient times to the modern world. It is designed for yoga/meditation teachers, practitioners, students of religion as well as those with a background in psychology interested in mindfulness therapy.
Find out more