Of course I (kind of) suspected that 2.000 years ago the average yogi didn’t wear Lululemons and OM-t-shirts. And probably they weren’t unrolling their sticky mats with a loud ‘bang’ on the rocky surface, annoying all fellow yogis in the surrounding Himalayan caves. But this? No, really – I wasn’t prepared for this.
Yogis weren’t peaceful. The Battle at Thaneshwar, a watercolor from the Mughal dynasty in 1590, shatters the stereotype of yogis as perfectly peaceful: it depicts bands of armed yogis battling over bathing rights at a sacred river.
The archetype of a yogi. Surely, they were hiding their proper yoga equipment somewhere. Or maybe, yoga involved other stuff than stretching. Maybe they were doing pranayama, studying the scriptures, meditating and living an ascetic life? Hum.
Yoginis were agents of otherworldly powers who could help win battles. Or at least this is what the Indo-Islamic rulers of Bijapur thought in the 17th century.
If like me you’re not lucky enough to live in Washington to see ‘Yoga: The Art of Transformation’ at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, you’ve still got the chance to see the touring exhibition – next at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco (February 21–May 25, 2014) and the Cleveland Museum of Art (June 22–September 7, 2014).
Has anyone been? Please share your impressions in the comments – I’d love to read some reviews!
P.S. The booklet ‘What would we do if we weren’t afraid’ is in the works and will be posted here shortly! It explores the ‘fear factor’ in our lives, its texture, its taste, its composition – and shows that what we’re commonly feeling isn’t actually fear, but anxiety. It also lists practical exercises that will daze, numb and eventually kill off anxiety – but in a very gentle way!