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I gained my PhD at SOAS University of London in an intertextual study of early South Asian texts describing mind-body philosophies - including the Patanjalayogasastra, the Abhidharmakosabhasya and the Yogacarabhumisastra. After a post as Senior Teaching Fellow at SOAS, I joined the University of Roehampton to lecture in Asian religions and ethics, before joining King’s College London.

Research interests and PhD supervision

  • Hinduism
  • Buddhism
  • Asian mind-body philosophies
  • Sanskrit texts
  • Theory and method of religion

I research early South and Central Asian Sanskrit texts and culture on meditation, philosophy of mind, and mind-body practices – in particular exploring the interconnections of Hinduism and Buddhism. More broadly, my research interests are Indian religion and philosophy, theory and method in the study of religion, global philosophies, critical theory of religion, decolonial thought, literary studies and the health humanities.

Selected publications

  • O’Brien-Kop, K. (forthcoming 2022) ‘Defining Body and Mind: Yoga, Asceticism and Meditation’ in Sathaye, Adheesh (Ed.) A Cultural History of Hinduism in the Classical Age 200BCE-800CE. Bloomsbury Academic: London.
  • O’Brien-Kop, K. (2022) ‘Meditation, Idealism and Materiality: Vivid Visualization in the Buddhist “Qizil Yoga Manual” and the Context of Caves’ in Journal of Indian Philosophy. 50.2. Open Access.
  • O’Brien-Kop, K. (2021) Rethinking ‘Classical Yoga’ and Buddhism: Meditation, Metaphors and Materiality. Bloomsbury Advances in Religious Studies. Bloomsbury Academic: London.
  • Newcombe, S. and O’Brien-Kop, K. (Eds.) (2020) Routledge Handbook of Yoga and Meditation Studies. Routledge: London and New York.


My teaching is interdisciplinary and combines study of religion, philosophy of religion and ethics. I teach on both historical and contemporary topics in Asian traditions and their global expressions. I also teach on the more theoretical aspects of study of religion, with an emphasis on critical theory and decolonial theory.

Expertise and public engagement

Currently, I co-convene the Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions (, am a co-chair of the Indian and Chinese Religions Compared Unit at the American Academy of Religion ( and am a co-editor at the academic journal Religions of South Asia (