The thesis of this book has been to show how the dynamic of the yoga discourse and the attraction it had for certain social strata was fuelled by its social symbolic-value. In premodern societies yoga discourse was for the elites a route to power, cultural capital and high status. For many it was a way of solidifying existing power. It was this close connection to power that kept the yoga discourse alive and under way. As soon as the word yoga was uttered, hierarchy and power were implied. Yoga was a pure power discourse – hence its attraction and ability to survive. It is here in the symbolic-value that we find the habitus of yoga: the persistence and continuity created by disposition.
Had it been up to yoga’s use-value alone – even if we define it more widely than I have done – then yoga would long since have become extinct. Had the yoga discourse been left to the Brahmins to develop, it would probably never even have taken off. If we look at discourses similar to yoga in the Axial Age Empires of southern Europe and Northern India, then such philosophical ways of living did often not last longer than at best a century or two. It seems that in the first many centuries of its existence, the survival and change of the yoga discourse depended on institutions outside the yoga milieu. I am thinking especially here of the tremendous dynamic within the Buddhist institutions during the main part of the Axial Age. Yoga’s social and political interaction with the vigorous powerhouse of Buddhism kept it from fading away. It sometimes almost seems that yoga was adopted by social strata of yoga sympathisers, who could not accept Buddhist and Jain organisations and ethics but still appreciated their methods and liberation philosophies. They just made copies and called the techniques something else.
With your forehead on the floor, roll your shoulders back Yoga equipment up toward the ceiling and lengthen the sides of your body between your hips and your arms Yoga equipment . Firm your legs and lengthen your tailbone, firming your buttocks without squeezing them together. Inhaling, lift your arms, pushing out against the belt. Lift your head and legs, stretching your legs back as they rise. Pull forward through your chest to lengthen the spine as it rises. Stay up for several breaths, making your body as buoyant as possible. Release back to the floor and remove the belt. This resting pose should follow the back bends you have just done.