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Was Aleister Crowley the First Western Yoga Teacher? With Thomas Van Breda

Last updated on 25/02/2023

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Thomas Van Breda is a scholar of religion specialising in the western esoteric tradition. He joins us to discuss notorious occultist Aleister Crowley and his contribution to the evolution of modern yoga. In 1901, Crowley travelled to Sri Lanka and studied what seems to be a mixture of Ashtanga and Shaivite Yoga. When he returned to the UK he started teaching. Is it possible that he was one of the first western yoga teachers ever? Or did his bombastic and strange personality only obscure the teachings?

Show Notes

  • We discuss the occult and rejected knowledge systems
  • Crowley’s problematic personality
  • How Crowley saw enlightenment and how he claimed to have attained it
  • We respond to Mark Singleton’s 2010 book “Yoga Body: the Origins of Modern Posture Practice” that claims Crowley was a “black magician” who obscured the message of yoga
  • How Crowley taught asana before Krishnamacharya, the old school way
  • Crowley’s experiments and achieving dyana and samadhi states

Crowley’s “Eight Lectures on Yoga” PDF.


  1. chris
    chris 22/04/2023

    I would love to be able to hear this again on iTunes. It vanished from the library

  2. Evgeny
    Evgeny 22/04/2023

    Hi Chris, the episode is embedded into this post – the player is at the top of the page. It is also available on iTunes and Spotify – simply click on the icons under the player and it will lead you to the right platform (episode 30). Make sure you are subscribed to the right version of the podcast – the URLs on iTunes and Spotify has changed, since the old podcast was deleted because we failed to pay for hosting in time, so I have reuploaded all the episodes and resubmitted them. Just follow the links on this blog to get to the right place.

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