Yoga imagined as a philosophical lifestyle
By comparing the different Axial Age civilisations at the time yoga emerged, many scholars have suggested that yogis can be compared to an intellectual group that we in the West call philosophers.m Philosophy and the social groups of philosophers – as we know them from Greek history – represented wisdom discourses, which emerged in all the Axial Age societies. In such discourses wisdom and insight into the underlying structures of reality were seen in general to lead to happiness. Hence the Greek word philosophy’ – meaning love of knowledge.
The wisdom discourses of Axial Age societies signified new ways of abstract thinking and meta-thinking (thinking reflecting on its own foundation), which might have been conditioned by the emergence of a monetised economy.119 Thus philosophical lifestyles of itinerant intellectuals were well known to the Greeks when they later came into contact with India’s Axial Age empires. In fact, when the Greeks after Alexander experienced Northern India’s ascetic wanderers like the Sramanas, they called them Gymnosophists – the naked philosophers! This was their way of giving meaning to a social group which they quite rightly found similar to their own philosophers.
The Greek Ambassador Megasthenes (Bronkhorst 1993 & 2006, McEvilley 2002), who was based at the king’s court of the newly founded Mauryan Empire, describes around 300 BC two ascetic lifestyles – the Brahmins and the Sramanas. Women live in their society without sexual commerce says Megasthenes (according to the Greek historian Strabo). While the Sramanas (like the Buddhists) often were described as bald. Megasthenes tells us of the Brahmins that they all wear long hair and long beards, and that they braid their hair and surround it with a head-band. But there is no mention of groups of yogis in Megasthenes’ account.
To practice aligned leg actions that minimize foot strain. Contraindications Yoga on the beach : Sacroiliac derangement, knee instability. Props: A mat, a blanket, two blocks Yoga on the beach , and a towel. Avoiding pitfalls: Begin using the props as described below. The props reduce the risk of mild injury to the lower back or knees. Progress at your own rate. Do a test run to see what props you will need, as follows. Sit on the floor with your knees apart and soles of the feet together.