TTY 2013: 5 page essay assignment

Texts and Traditions of Yoga: 5 Page Essay: due in class on Monday Nov. 18th 

Organization of your essay: Choose ONE of the following three topics and write a 5-page paper composed of two sections:

  • In the first 4 pages, address the topic using the readings and material that we have covered in class.
  • On the final page, draw on your life experience and your practice of hatha yoga to articulate your own understanding of how these teachings relate — or don’t! — to your own life.

Resources: Your notes, along with the required and optional assignments, should be adequate to satisfactorily complete this assignment. You may do additional research if you want, but it is not necessary to do so. Do not use any material from the Internet as a source. If you do, your paper will be returned to you for revision. Please email me if you would like help identifying additional resources.

Printed format: Your paper should be double-spaced with one-inch margins and printed in a 12-point font. Please observe the academic convention of documenting your quotes and sources in footnotes.

If you would like to propose an alternate question, please email a description of your proposed topic to me at karen.harris@post.harvard.edu by Monday November 4th.

DOWNLOAD a printable version of the essay assignment for your notebook.

Definitions of Yoga

Throughout this class we have discussed various meanings of the Sanskrit word yoga. How has the word yoga been used in the traditions that we are studying? How are these definitions similar, and in what ways are they different? Include a brief discussion of how this term is understood in contemporary American culture.

The Inner Self

This semester we have encountered many descriptions of the inner self or atman. Compare and contrast the different descriptions of the self in the yogic traditions. How are they similar, and in what ways are they different? How does the way in which each tradition defines “self” relate to its understanding of the cosmos?

Classical and Hatha Yoga

Although both medieval hatha yoga and the classical yoga of the Yoga Sutras are referred to as raja yoga, the tantric worldview of hatha yoga and the Samkhyan worldview of the Yoga Sutras are radically different. In what ways does the medieval hatha yoga tradition draw on the teachings of classical yoga? In what ways are the philosophy and practices of these two systems different? NOTE: The synopsis of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (a 2-page optional reading for October 28th) is a helpful resource for this assignment.

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