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Stillpoints: A Podcast with Scott Johnson

Jan 17, 2021

#024: Daniel Simpson

Scott talks to Daniel Simpson, on his life as a yoga philosophy teacher and practitioner. Daniel presents ancient texts for modern times. He is the author of The Truth of Yoga, a comprehensive guide to the historic tradition and texts of yoga for contemporary practitioners.


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Daniel Simpson's work is informed by his master's degree in Traditions of Yoga and Meditation (SOAS, University of London), and draws on his earlier experience as a foreign correspondent. He combines scholarly knowledge with humour and insight, making yoga philosophy accessible and relevant to practitioners today.

Daniel teaches courses online, at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, at Triyoga in London, around the UK and internationally. With two decades of experience, he aims to help students explore their own path. You can find out more about Daniel’s work and courses here.

You can also purchase Daniel's book - The Truth of Yoga - here.



The Truth of Yoga - Daniel Simpson


Scott and Daniel have known each other since 2015 and in that time Daniel has become a highly regarded yoga philosophy teacher and academic. In this wide ranging conversation they share insights and stories on the last 15 years of change in the yoga world surrounding how yoga philosophy and history is taught. Daniel also shares personal stories and insights from his own life that compelled him to write his new book - The Truth Of Yoga.

In this wide ranging conversation Daniel shares:

  • About his euphoric experience during a silent meditation retreat, which completely transformed his relationship with the world and himself.
  • How this transcendent experience transformed his asana practise into a practise of embodied consciousness, a physical practise for training the mind. 
  • His thoughts on the relationship between hedonism and spirituality. 
  • The connection between Vedic soma rituals and yoga, and the relationship between soma and ayahuasca. 
  • How yoga can become an addiction in itself, and about learning to identify and deal with these patterns. 
  • That the project of yoga was never about experiencing bliss, but an extreme solution for escaping samsara.
  • About his book - The Truth of Yoga, which distills complex ideas into an accessible format
  • His response to the question: ‘What is yoga?’
  • His previous work as a journalist and his move into academia, and how both have influenced his approach to writing. 
  • Why accuracy is important when presenting historic texts about yoga. 
  • The enduring effect of Yoga Body by Mark Singleton and how it influenced the academic study of physical yoga
  • That he hopes his book ‘The Truth of Yoga’  will be used as a bridge between academic researchers and yoga practitioners. 
  • About the different and contradictory threads of yoga: dual and non-dual, householder and renunciate.
  • How we can maintain traditional aspects in contemporary physical yoga. 
  • About his first trip to India, and his experience of attending the Kumbh Mela in 2001.  
  • How yoga ultimately helped him recognise, understand and deal with his issues with substance abuse.
  • How yoga scholarship is a form of practise, a discipline in itself.
  • How living a contemplative life is all about relationship: how we relate to the moment, relate to ourselves, and relate to others. A moment-by-moment engagement with reality. 


Daniel is a breath of fresh air. His knowledge on the philosophy and history of yoga is so deep yet he is able to share it in a beautifully open, simple and understandable way. I loved having this conversation with Daniel and got so much from it. This is a must for people interested in how the teaching of yoga philosophy and history has changed over the past 10 - 15 years..

Scott Johnson - January 2020 

If you enjoyed this podcast then you might also enjoy Scott’s conversations with Dr Matthew Clark, Taylor Hunt and Zephyr Wildman.