5. Construing Yoga: A Sketch from a Few Perspectives
Thinking in Āsana - Movement and Philosophy in Viniyoga, Iyengar Yoga, and Ashtanga Yoga - Matylda Ciołkosz
Matylda Ciołkosz [+]
Jagiellonian University, Kraków
The second chapter provides the reader with a broad, multidimensional look at the phenomenon of yoga. Basing my arguments on existing academic scholarship on yoga (represented by authors such as Joseph Alter, Jason Birch, Elizabeth De Michelis, James Mallinson, Philipp A. Maas, Mark Singleton, and David G. White, among others), I describe the transformations that the concept of yoga underwent from its nascence up to modernity, thus providing a background for the discussion of the three lineages of modern yoga presented in the third chapter. I discuss the trans-sectarian nature of yogic practices and philosophies. I describe– from a historical perspective– yoga’s role as a factor allowing to negotiate an individual’s involvement with the society and its norms. I summarise yoga-related cosmo-, soterio- and anthropologies, including yogic models of the human body. I describe the variety of yoga practices, including posture (āsana), breath retention (prāṇāyāma), and techniques of cognitive constraint. Throughout the chapter, I explain the tenets of the yoga of Patañjali, with its underlying ontology, assumptions regarding human consciousness, and its system of practice. I define the key concepts known from the Pātañjalayogaśāstra that made their way into modern yoga.