Yoga equipment

Avoiding pitfalls: Make sure the pelvis stays square to the Yoga equipment wall, the feet parallel, the forward knee over the ankle, and the back thigh Yoga equipment lifted away from the floor. Bear your weight equally over the four corners of the feet and lift the arches. Stand facing a wall and place your hands on the wall at a comfortable height, elbows bent. Step the left foot back, keeping both feet and your pelvis facing directly toward the wall. Bend the forward right knee over the ankle. The back heel will be up off the floor. Roll your upper arms and shoulders back. Take a deep breath as you lift your spine up and firm the leg muscles.

In a previous chapter I have indicated how the MBh like most of later Indian folklore and narratives, repeatedly, connects asceticism and yoga with the super-natural. While one part of the MBh disempowers the yogi identity, teaching him that salvation is only achievable through surrendering and grace of god, the other parts blow the trumpet of supernatural powers. Yogic supernatural powers are central to the outlook of Mbh. Brockington (2003), Malinar (2012b) and White (2009) show how the Epics are full of examples of yoga leading to supernatural powers. The yogis often figure in the same way as magicians, for instance in The Ring of the Lords. So there are stories about how yoga allows a man to avoid Siva’s trident and to enter his mouth; or how another person by means of yoga protects a woman from the approaches of Indra. Even kings and gods practise yoga in order to increase their power. We have also seen that in some sections the supernatural powers are not seen as a by-product of yoga practice but as a stepping-stone for final release.

So supernatural powers do not play a secondary role in this discourse. At one point the MBh even tries to set up a theory based on Samkhya, explaining why natural super power grows naturally out of yoga practice in the same way as a low pulse rate is a natural byproduct of intensive physical exercises. In the Gita the marvels of yoga powers are lifted to new levels. As Krishna reveals himself, it turns out that he is the master yogi of all yogis. He has become what he is thanks to his yogic powers (Malinar 2007). His omnipresence and ability to transform are clearly yogic powers (White 2009). So this is powerful stuff raising the symbolic profile of the ascetic yogi considerably.

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