Welcome to our country, they said. Where are you Yoga poses hamstrings from? they wanted to know. America, I answered. New York, USA. Yoga poses hamstrings I looked for signs of contempt, but saw nothing but acknowledgment. We visited classrooms filled with girls of various ages from grades one through six. Everyone would be given exams to determine what grade they were to be placed in when school began. I asked many of the girls what they wanted to be when they grew up.
The process of turning proto-yoga into early-yoga
The Sramanas and the Axial Age episteme
We have seen how the discourses of proto-yoga – like for instance the karma doctrine -seem to be a part of an emerging Axial Age civilisation and its new episteme – a new way of thinking. All the signs clustering round the liberation discourses point forward in time, rather than back to the Vedic culture. Yes, the new signs are conditioned – made possible – by Archaic codes and ways of thinking, but simultaneously they are very cumbersome to give meaning within Vedic sign systems, values and priorities. There is a conceptual rupture.
The Axial Age karma discourse evolved among the Sramanas and Kshatriyas (Obeyesekere 2002). Their ascendancy was also directly a function of the dawn of the Axial Age. The new Axial Age episteme (Wikipedia link) came to its fullest expression among the Buddhists, who in addition to the Jains made a significant contribution to the development of the core aspects of the yoga discourse. It was especially among the Buddhists that Axial Age ways of thinking like rationalism, universalism and ethical living crystallised into a new religio-philosophy.