So we witness here a cultural field of the Vedic society where more or less religious specialists tapped into the code and habitus underlying ascetic discourse and Shamanism. Like the Shaman – but unlike the Brahmin – they seemed to oscillate between the centre and the periphery of society. An essential part of their symbolic capital was their austerities and their super human powers. This has led many scholars to speculate whether these Vedic groups -and not the Brahmins – were the real proto-yogis135. These groups certainly shared many of the Asian Shaman’s trance inducing techniques: sensory overload (ecstasy, possession), sensory deprivation (pain and austerities), drug inducement and mind numbing by monotonous repetition. In these groups drugs like soma and darbhga grass were often mentioned as means of achieving trance – what I call ASC.
However, there is a significant difference. Yoga as it emerged did not produce such ecstatic types of ASC. It actually opposed them. Proto-yoga and early-yoga had instead strong elements of sensory deprivation. They wanted to still, not to stir, the mind, as the Shaman and these Vedic groups did. A stirred mind was among the yogis seen as absolutely detrimental to their goals. So whereas yoga was renown for its focus on stilling the mind, there is no indication of this meditative aspect among these Vedic Shaman-like groups136. Further – and this is most significant – in these groups we find none of the discourses of liberation so central to yoga as it emerged. The only thing they shared with yoga was their skill in putting the mind into trance, to create ASC.
Place your left hand on the wall, with the index Yoga meme finger pointing upward, the palm flat, with your hand directly to your side and not Yoga meme behind you. Stand tall, especially through the side of the ribs. Take a breath to expand inside your chest with fullness and strength. Pull your left shoulder gently back and in toward the spine. Use a moderate amount of strength in your arm to press into the wall. Balance between the pull of Muscular Energy inward and the reaching out of Organic Energy. Turn your body in place away from the wall. Stop turning when you feel a good stretch across your upper chest and shoulder.