The combination of three principles – asceticism belonging to Bronze Age (or earlier) cultures, liberation belonging to emerging Axial age civilisation and meditation falling exactly in the middle of those two social formations – conditioned a new independent discourse and cultural field – a powerful energy field – of which yoga became a part.
Thus even before the technical notion of yoga' emerged in written discourse, this combination of principles had already been in use among some groups for some time: the Sramanas. I suggest that we call this combination of practices, codes and rhetoric protoyoga ‘. These proto-yoga groups ‘ – the Sramanas – might have given the principles other names or had different perceptions of what their significance was. Proto-yoga is the subject of the following chapter.
In the rest of this chapter we will investigate the two first principles – asceticism and (the Brahmin branch of) meditation – because they tell us much about what made yoga possible. However they also reveal what was not possible – how claims that yoga evolved out of the Vedas with the Brahmins as its originators cannot stand scrutiny. In later chapters we will see how such claims reflect the ideology or cultural-politics of the Brahmins, Hindu nationalism and anti-modernity romanticism.
Moderate exercise has been associated with a reduction in premenstrual symptoms Eye of the Needle Yoga PoseStoddard, Dent, Shames, & Bernstein, 2007.
Acupuncture In a small randomized controlled Eye of the Needle Yoga Posetrial, 43 women were followed for one year in one of four groups: real acupuncture group; placebo acupuncture group given weekly random point acupuncture for three menstrual cycles; standard control group without medical or acupuncture intervention; visitation control group with monthly nonacupuncture visits with the project physician for three cycles. In the real acupuncture group, 10 of 11 90. 9% women showed improvement in menstrual pain compared with 4 of 11 36. 4% in the placebo acupuncture group, 2 of 11 18. 2% in the standard control group, and 1 of 10 10% in the visitation control group. There was a 41% reduction in the use of analgesic medication for women in the real acupuncture group versus no change or increased medication use in the comparison groups Helms, 1987.
While this study is small, with only 10 or 11 subjects in each group, it suggests that acupuncture may be beneficial in relieving primary dysmenorrhea.