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Introducing the Penis Lift

The Penis Lift. Haridwar, November 16, 2007
The Penis Lift. Haridwar, November 16, 2007
A soft sunset landscape, bright flower garlands, rich ochre and orange tones, and two yogi masters seemingly floating in the air? There’s plenty going on in Michael O’Neill’s evocative cover image for the latest TASCHEN magazine, but what exactly is this mysterious balancing act, captured in the ancient Indian city of Haridwar?

In fact, sadhu Baba Dhuna Giri, the central figure of the group was always, in O’Neill’s words “the master showman, taking pride in performing great feats and displaying control over his body and mind.” For O’Neill’s ON YOGA project, he took on the greatest feat of all: the penis lift. The sadhu stretches his penis, including the foreskin, wraps it around a pole, which is then twisted through his legs, pulling the penis backward.

He then holds both ends of the pole while his two students climb up and balance upon it. Having pledged vows of renunciation, the sadhu thus transforms his lust, “turning desire inward,” so that he can control it rather than have it control him.