In my view these Vedic groups point more backward in time than they point forward towards yoga. I find it highly unlikely that these Vedic groups were proto-yogis. Instead they could more usefully be classified as social identities representing North Indian variations of the Asian Shamanic model – the marginalised Shaman discussed earlier (Deeg 1993). With the advent of the Axial Age civilisation these groups were in fact a dying species in many ways. We can now return to the much disputed question whether these Vedic groups’ cultural and political opposite- the Vedic Brahmins – were the inventors of yoga.
Tapas – the importance of asceticism in Vedic society
As we have seen, the Vedas witness a range of ascetic practices and many scholars (Eliade 1972 &1990, Feuerstein 1998, Samuel 2008) agree that these practices have their roots in the even older culture of Shamanism – practices subscribed to in most Asian Stone-Age hunter-gather and pastoral communities.
Purpose: To stretch the outer shoulder muscles, increasing scapular Yoga matrange of motion. Contraindications: Voluntary subluxation, posterior labral tear. Prop: A belt Yoga mat. Avoiding pitfalls: Keep your spine tall and your shoulders as soft as possible. Wrap a belt around your upper back like a shawl, and hold it in front of you with crossed wrists. Stand tall. Retract your shoulders, and firm your mid and upper back. Gradually walk your hands along the belt, crossing your arms in front of your chest.
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