Friday, May 16, 2014

Herding Yogis and Yoginis --- Day 3/124

Walk: Asian Art Museum (Yoga: The Art of Transformation)
Distance: 5 miles

Back for a second viewing and Docent tour with friends at the Yoga Art show that will close shortly.  The docent gave a thumbnail history of that sprawling, serpentine phenomenon which penetrated all the religions, governments, societies of the Asian continent.

In brief:
1.Yoga began as a simple practice to relieve the enormous tensions of living in ancient society.  It was done in nature.
2.Temples began being built and decorated by chosen artists.  These were often very small and simple so that the practitioner could sit and be seen before the god/goddess while practicing.
3. Monasteries came into existence which resulted in yoga becoming more organized, with a stronger power structure.  Pilgrimages began.  Political leaders began to blend with the yoga monasteries. Armies were assembled and trained.  Those soldiers were not kept busy full time so they hired themselves out as mercenaries.  The decadence of yoga began.
4. Westerners came to the East and feared the power of yoga. One of the strategies of dis-empowering yoga was to present it back in the West (England, France, Italy, etc) as more or less a freak show.  Eg, pictures of yogis in loin cloths on beds of nails were distributed and yoga 'freaks' traveled in carnival settings.
5. In the 1900's there was a revival when yoga leaders largely from India came to the United States and introduced yoga philosophy, history, asanas to Western audiences.  Thus began the yoga that we in the West today understand as yoga.

In truth the history of yoga - like the tree above - is very, very, very Shmoo-like, so I think she did a remarkable job condensing it into this format.  Namaste.

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