In short what we are saying is that in order to understand yoga’s use-value we need to understand its symbolic-value. In order to understand symbolic-value we need to understand the struggles and positioning within yoga’s cultural field and we further need to understand this field’s interaction with the surrounding society.
Yoga as a discourse
We are analysing yoga as a discourse (Wikipedia link) within a cultural field, which it has given name to. Discourses have a great impact on how and what we perceive as reality. Discourses construct social realities (like meditation’ or sect’) and identities (like ascetic’ or ‘liberated’). In relation to yoga this means that the yoga discourse constructs the yogi as a social identity at the same time as it gives the yogi symbolic meaning to others, enabling him to influence them.
We spent the next few days waking early and practicing asanas for a few hours before a vegetarian breakfast of fruit and cereals and a brief rest period before Sanskrit lessons.King Dancer Pose Yoga After lunch, there was another rest period before another afternoon asana class, then it was time for dinner. After dinner there was satsang, a dharma talk or spiritual lesson, followed by a group chanting sing-along.King Dancer Pose Yoga There were a few yoga teacher/musicians present who sat on the floor in front of us to lead the chants. At the end, there was a long silent meditation, then it was time for bed.
At the end of three days at Ananda, my friend invited me to drive a bit farther upstate to visit the Shree Muktananda Siddha Yoga Ashram in nearby South Fallsburg. I wanted to get the feel of another kind of ashram, this one enormously popular, thus well-funded and taken care of. Having known of Gurumayi, the female guru and descendant of the Siddha Yoga lineage, for years, and after the practices of this weekend’s retreat, I felt primed for a visit.