Monday, 20 July 2015

The earliest known 'Dog' Pose

By JACQUELINE HARGREAVES



The earliest known description (to date) of 'Dog' Pose is called Śvottānāsana (Up-turned Dog Pose) in the text called the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati

Śvottānāsana

Having placed the body like a corpse, joining the knees together and bringing [them] onto the navel, clasping the neck with the hands, [the yogin] should rotate [the legs. This is] the up-turned dog [pose].

Translation by Jason Birch (2015)

The image seen here in an artistic representation from the later digest named the Śrītattvanidhi.

During extensive periods of manuscript fieldwork in Indian and Nepalese libraries in 2003, 2009 and 2013, we visited over 24 libraries in 12 cities. We were pleased to consult many interesting works, including an unpublished manuscript of a 17th - early 18th century Haṭhayoga text known as the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati (mentioned in publications of M. L. Gharote of the Lonavla Yoga Institute). 

The Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati is an exciting find for many reasons. One such reason is that it offers descriptions of 112 āsanas, many of which are quite unique. It is important textual evidence for the practice of many āsanas in Haṭhayoga prior to the arrival of the British in India.

However, this version of 'Dog' Pose does not resemble the version practised today in Modern Postural Yoga. 

We will discuss this evidence and other interesting insights during our short online course on the evolution of āsana. 

Date to be announced shortly.

The historical significance of the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati will be presented in detail in the forthcoming publication:

'The Proliferation of Asana in Late Mediaeval Yoga Traditions'
Yoga in Transformation: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on a Global Phenomenon, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht Unipress 

You can also read more about our past manuscript adventures here.

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