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which was a tool to still the body for meditation, not meant as a physical workout.

The use of asana in exercise approaches should be discriminated from its role in meditation approaches, though some natural overlap exists.

A deeper examination, however, finds this view to be inaccurate or incomplete.

First of all, Yoga asana, as part of classical Yoga traditions like the , was never meant as a merely an exercise or fitness system.

To adequately approach this issue, we must first examine the greater exercise traditions of India, including Vedic martial arts, and not limit ourselves to yogic texts.

We must also understand how Yoga asana and exercise in general relate, their similarities and differences, and their respective places in Indian culture.

It has also gotten some to hold that active or strong exercise methods, like calisthenics type movements, only entered India recently through Europe and were previously unknown, with Yoga asanas being the main form of exercise taught in India.

This plays into cultural stereotypes that Indians are physically weak and the Europeans physically strong – a view that arguably borders on racism.

Asana in classical Yoga was not meant as simply a type of physical exercise, which is called , a spiritual discipline resting upon the ability to sit or be still for long periods of time for the practice of meditation.

Such Vedic martial arts like Kalari remain popular in South India to the present day, though many others have probably been lost in the course of time.

Dhanur literally means a bow, so archery was one of these martial arts.

Yoga was never primarily an exercise tradition and we cannot look to yogic texts for understanding the exercise traditions of India.


Dhanur Veda or the Vedic martial arts is the main basis and oldest form of exercise tradition of India and one that has continued to develop over time.Yoga and Dhanur Veda overlap to some degree, but more active forms of exercise connect primarily with Dhanur Veda and only secondarily with Yoga.


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