The main means of achieving this was to live according to the Jain vows of asceticism -living an ascetical life. Dhyana – meditation – also had its role in this gradual process. It could stop the influx of matter. So dhyana for the early Jains was about forcing the mind from activity to inactivity. Dhyana could arrest the yoga – activity – of the mind. In this way dhyana separated the jiva from matter which led to its liberation. After the death of the physical body the liberated jiva finally attained moksha. Thus if we had defined yoga – which we do not even try to do – as ascetic-meditative practices leading to release then we would have reached the absurd conclusion that early Jain yoga actually saw yoga’ as a problem – as something to mortify205.
Over time dhyana seems to have played a smaller and smaller role among the Jains (Dundas 2002). Overall it seems that Jainism – as it became systematised – became strongly Gnostic and ethical. It might, like Buddhism, have started rather ascetic and meditative, but as it was rationalised and became integrated in Jain lay communities, it also became wisdom oriented. So the worship of the god’ (The Supreme Self -paramatman) and the fordmakers’ (the Jain forefathers) and the learning of the doctrines while living a consistent ascetic life were at the centre of a Jain life – not dhyana.
But then throughout history there would, as we shall see in later chapters, surface (influential?) Jain writers, who would advocate both meditation and yoga. So over time the picture of Jain in relationship to the yoga signifier is not clear-cut.207
Firm your arm muscles, retract the upper arms back into Yoga insurance the shoulders, and press the arms down onto the floor. The shoulders are the stable Yoga insurance part of this pose while your legs and hips move. Prepare for the twist by first widening your sitting bones, then firming your lower abdomen. Gradually lower both legs to the right, with the thighs at a ninety-degree angle to the torso if possible. Stretch through the lower back. Press your right arm down into the floor and lower the left, shoulder until it is flat on the floor. Stretch your left thigh and left arm away from each other to intensify the twist. As you get more comfortable and more flexible, you will be able to straighten your knees in the initial position and throughout this pose.