It’s difficult to think of a recent fitness movement that has gotten more attention than yoga. Today, you can hear individuals arguing about the many benefits of yoga and making reference to its innate superiority in everyday life almost everywhere you go. It’s not surprising, given the importance of yoga in the treatment of physical and mental ailments around the world today. Yoga is now practiced by approximately 30 million Americans, and there are tens of thousands of yoga studios in the United States alone. Yoga is unquestionably an ever-evolving tradition that has swept the western world.

But where did yoga come from? What is the source of it? And why was it made in the first place? What is the true History of yoga? There are fewer well-known questions than Down Dog. What part does yoga’s past play in our current practice? 

Let’s learn about the origins of yoga and the rich past of this practice that we adore can only add to our knowledge of the scope and complexity of yoga. Yoga is now widely practiced. Yoga has evolved into a mainstream cultural phenomenon and is arguably India’s biggest cultural export.

The Origin of Yoga

It is an ancient activity that brings the body and brain together. It originated from the Sanskrit word “Yuji,” which means “yoke” or “union.” 

Yoga is so ancient that no one knows when it first began. But it all existed throughout human history when people began to wonder what life was all about. Only a legend can provide us with information about yoga’s roots. 

Owing to the oral transmission of holy texts and the secrecy of its teachings, yoga’s past is riddled with ambiguity and confusion. Early yoga writings were recorded on delicate palm leaves that were quickly weakened, destroyed, or lost. Yoga’s origins can be traced to 5,000 years, but some scholars believe it may be as old as 10,000 years.

Yoga is also a psychological, physiological, and spiritual discipline emanating from ancient India. But given its Indian roots, the benefits and gifts of this practice have now spread all over the world. Its primary purpose as a spiritual practice is to aid in the unification of our mind, feelings, body, and energy. 

Mindful body activity, meditation, contemplation, breathwork, and sensory detachment are all examples of yogic practices.

Pre-Vedic, Vedic, Pre-Classical Yoga, Classical Yoga, Post-Classical Yoga, and Modern Yoga are the six major stages in the history of yoga. Let’s have a look at each one.

The Pre-Classical Yoga Period

About 5,000 years ago, the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India established the foundations of Yoga. Yoga was first recorded in the Rig Veda, one of the oldest religious texts.

  • CLASSICAL YOGA PERIOD

Pre-classical yoga was a jumble of disparate concepts, values, and strategies that often clashed and undermined one another. Patanjali’s Yoga-Sûtras, the first structured presentation of yoga, defines the Classical era. It was written sometime during the second century, explains the path of RAJA YOGA, also known as “classical yoga.”

  • POST-CLASSICAL YOGA PERIOD

Yoga masters developed a method of practice to rejuvenate the body and extend life a few decades after Patanjali. They accepted the physical body as a way of achieving enlightenment, rejecting the ancient Vedic teachings. They created Tantra Yoga, a radical form of yoga that purifies the body and mind.

  • MODERN YOGA PERIOD

Yoga masters started to move to the West in the late 1800s and early 1900s, gaining interest and followers. Swami Vivekananda wowed the participants at the 1893 Parliament of Religions in Chicago with his lectures on yoga and the generality of the world’s religions. Yoga’s introduction to the West slowed to a trickle before Indra Devi opened her Hollywood yoga studio in 1947. 

Many more Indian and Western teachers have followed in their footsteps since then, popularizing hatha yoga and attracting millions of followers. Hatha Yoga is now divided into several schools or types, each stressing different aspects of the practice.

Let’s Come Down To The Word Yoga – What Is It And What Does It Imply?

Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” – Bhagavad Gita. 

This is a concept that we are all familiar with. This Sanskrit word has been introduced into English dictionaries because it is so popular in our dialect. “Yoga” comes from the root “yuj,” which means “to Unite.” 

Since this is no longer a commonly used term in the English language, you might miss the context at first glance. Yoga means “unity” in its broadest sense. Yoga is a psychological, physical, and spiritual practice that originated in ancient India. 

Despite its Indian origins, the advantages and blessings of this tradition have now spread across the globe.

Let’s Break Down The Concept Of “To Unite” – What Does Yoga Unite?

A coming together of mind, body, and soul; of air and body; of our lower egos and higher self. A symbiotic relationship with the world, source, or deity. Many of these words have been used to explain the “union” that yoga brings in. Its primary purpose as a spiritual practice is to aid in the unification of our mind, feelings, body, and energy.

Mindful body activity, meditation, contemplation, breathwork, and sensory detachment are all examples of yogic practices.

Lord Shiva is considered to be the first yogi, and He passed his wisdom and learning to the Saptarishis, a group of seven learned men. They spread this information through seven different continents, demonstrating that humans can develop beyond their physical limitations.

The History Of Yoga

The existence of Yoga in ancient India is suggested by the number of seals and fossil remains from the Indus Saraswati valley civilization with Yogic motives and figures practicing Yoga Sadhana. Many academics and yogis disagree on when yoga began and how it developed. 

Some sources claim that it has been practiced for over 5,000 years. Others say it dates back over 10,000 years. The Bhagavad Gita, which means “the Lord’s Song,” is a yogic theology scripture written between 400 BC and 200 CE. 

It’s a holy text that focuses solely on yoga practice. This was purely a spiritual activity.

The Bhagavad Gita is an ancient text about a war that takes place on the battlefield. Yoga is an unusual setting i.e. a battlefield, for harmony, love, and happiness! However, this setting is often interpreted as an analogy for the “war of the mind.”

It was the first holy text to declare that everyone would attain enlightenment. – direction is different, but they all lead to the same destination: enlightenment. Yoga’s real nature and origin is enlightenment.

During the Vedic period, Vedic monks were usually self-disciplined and avoided all types of extravagance; instead, they conducted yagna sacrifices and used positions that most scholars assume were the precursors to the modern-day Yoga poses we use.

The Age Of Yoga

Yoga was created in the 5th century for mindfulness and religious purposes, not as a form of exercise. The idea became even more common among Jains, Buddhists, and Hindus at about the same time. The first versions of yoga were mostly used for spiritual purposes and were based on a set of core principles.

The first core value examines a person’s awareness and cognitive state to determine the source of pain and, ultimately, use meditation to resolve the problem. 

The second core principle aimed to raise consciousness, while the third was used to achieve enlightenment. Since it used Yoga to reach into other people’s bodies and behave divinely, the fourth quality was shrouded in mystery.

Ramana Maharshi, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, BKS Iyengar, K Pattabhi Jois, Paramhansa Yogananda, and Swami Vivekananda all contributed to the development of Raja yoga. In the mid-nineteenth century, yoga made its way to the West. At this period, Vedanta, Bhakti, and Hatha yoga prevailed.

Yoga had a long and storied journey to make it to the twenty-first century! It’s had a lot of different writers and has gone through a lot of changes. Given this, the nature of yoga is being one with oneself, one’s soul, and one’s surroundings.

What Were/Are The Different Types Of Yoga?

Yoga is divided into four pillars that are widely accepted:

  • Raja Yoga revolves around the mind and emotions
  • Yoga Bhakti is the Yoga of love and devotion
  • Karma Yoga is a form of yoga that focuses on inspired action and service
  • Yoga Jnana is the Yoga of inner wisdom and knowledge.

Other styles of asana-based yoga include – Vinyasa – Ashtanga – Bikram – Iyengar yoga – Restorative yoga – Prenatal yoga – Yin yoga. (Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Buddhist mindfulness practice, and Hindu Hatha Yoga have all inspired Yin yoga. Yin Yoga poses are performed in stillness for an extended period, unlike most other physical forms of Yoga.)

Of course, there’s Hatha Yoga, which has become the most commonly practiced style of yoga in the West today. The emphasis of Hatha Yoga is on the body, especially the physical asanas or postures.

Tantra Yoga

When you hear the words “Tantra Yoga,” you can have a lot of associations. Any terms that come to mind are sexual, personal, strange, hippie, and so on. The only way to transcend these negative stereotypes is to educate yourself on the subject. 

Tantra is an ancient practice that combines asana, mantra, mudra, and bandha (energy lock), and chakra (energy center) function to create power, insight, and siddhi (bliss) in daily life.

Tantra Yoga entails harnessing and embracing Shakti’s five powers, the female goddess who embodies imagination and transformation. Tantric Yoga says that by balancing yin and yang, we can travel into life with more trust and contentment.

What Is Hatha Yoga? 

Hatha Yoga (Sanskrit: “Discipline of Force”) is a form of Yoga that emphasizes body mastery as a means of achieving spiritual purity by withdrawing the mind from external things. Hatha Yoga has become increasingly common in the West as a type of exercise that promotes resilience, endurance, physical stimulation, and mental focus.

Diet, purification procedures, breathing control (Pranayama), and the practice of bodily exercises called asanas, which structure a regimen of physical exertion, are all important aspects of Hatha Yoga. Padmasana (“lotus posture”) is a traditional asana in which the crossed feet rest on the opposite thighs.

A very effective and beneficial breathing technique that not only aids weight loss but also puts the whole system into perfect equilibrium. Kapalbhati Pranayama, also known as Skull Shining Breathing, is a breathing technique also included in hatha yoga practice. 

Other asanas are included in Hatha yoga

  1. JAL NETI: Jal Neti is one of Hatha Yoga Pradeepika’s six detoxification practices, or ‘Shatkarmas.’ Jal Neti is a method used by yogis to remain disease-free and, most specifically, to use their breath effectively in their yogic activities. Jal Neti is nasal care in the same way as cleaning your teeth is dental hygiene. Water is used to purify and disinfect the nasal passageway, which runs from the nostrils to the throat.
  2. DHAUT NETI: Dhauti is one of the Shatkarmas (or Shat kriyas) that make up the yogic method of cleansing strategies for the body. It is mostly meant to disinfect the entire digestive system, but it also involves the respiratory tract, external ears, and eyes. 

It is divided into four categories, according to the 18th century Gheranda Samhita: Antara (internal) Dhauti, Danta (teeth) Dhauti, Hrida (cardiac or chest region) Dhauti, and Mula Shodhana (rectal cleansing).

Vastra Dhauti is used to cleanse the stomach and esophageal tract. A long strip of wet cotton fabric is swallowed into the stomach during this procedure.

  1. NAULI: Nauli is one of the yoga kriyas or shatkarmas or provisional purifications. The exercise is said to clean the abdominal area and is focused on a circular motion of the stomach muscles that massages the internal belly organs.
  2. BASTI: Basti is an effective Shatkarma or yogic cleansing, that is used to clean the lower abdomen, specifically the colon. According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and other references, it has many beneficial effects.

    The word “Basti” refers to something that “resides inside a cavity enclosed by four walls.” Basti may also mean “to hold” and is often used to refer to the bladder. Basti kriya is analogous to an Ayurvedic procedure called enema, which cleanses the colon by inserting a tube filled with therapeutic fluid into the rectum.
  1. TATRAKA: Tatraka is a yogic cleansing (a shatkarma) and tantric meditation practice that entails looking at a single spot, such as a tiny object, black dot, or candle flame. Traka is said to improve one’s ability to focus. It improves memory and puts the mind into a state of consciousness, concentration, and focus.

Was Yoga Considered An Exercise?

While yoga’s roots aren’t in exercise, some forms have been transformed into workouts that emphasize the physical aspects of the practice. People come to yoga with a variety of goals in mind. Some people practice yoga for the contemplative or meditative aspects, while others prefer the workout and activity aspects. 

Yoga may also aid in the development of power. Certain positions and poses that require an individual to support a portion of their body weight can challenge and strengthen a muscle.

Many prestigious Yoga Institutions, Yoga Schools, Yoga Universities, Yoga Departments in Educational institutions, Naturopathy colleges, and private trusts and associations now offer yoga education. In hospitals, dispensaries, medical institutes, and therapeutic settings, many Yoga Clinics, Yoga Rehabilitation, and Training Facilities, Preventive Health Care Units of Yoga, Yoga Research Institutions, and so on have been created.

Modern Versus Ancient Notion Of Yoga

Yoga is a tool that assists man in reaching his full potential. Yoga is a practice that aids in the full development of an individual’s ability. All aspects of a person – physical, mental, moral, intellectual, and emotional – must be addressed to achieve this. Simply healing the body would be an indicative approach that would inevitably lead to other issues not long after recovery.

The concept of using yoga to cure illnesses, improve physical health, and gain stress relief is a new, although simplistic, viewpoint. Yoga was not only used to treat illnesses in ancient times. The importance of sanitation and hygiene, for example, was also present in ancient times. This did not, however, apply solely to shaving, washing, and other morning fasts. It entailed keeping your mind pure and clean, and by extension, your thinking process. In other words, it resulted in overall health.

People used to live lives that were entwined with the natural world. They were in their natural form when they evolved. There was an awareness of the body’s and mind’s mutually beneficial relationship. Bends and turns are only possible when you are in sync. Breath regulation and self-awareness are essential to doing this.

The Modern Myth Of Yoga

Today, much of our exposure to yoga is limited to yoga asanas. This is why we equate yoga with fitness and versatility.

Remember how people used to sit on the floor in yoga asanas regularly? We need to get into a padmasana, or lotus pose, now! Correct posture and a serene state were once a way of life that has been lost to modern living. That is why poses have become so popular in recent years. But now you know that yoga was never intended to be just asanas.

The true goal of yoga is for him to achieve self-realization and accomplishment.

The United Nations has designated June 21st as International Yoga Day, a day to give this ancient practice its proper place as a way of life that promotes peace, unity, and global integration.

Our Take On Yoga

We in the Yogic-Experience team say that everyone can practice Yoga, it absolutely doesn’t matter which religion you belong to or don’t. Should certain things go against your beliefs, simply stop doing them or ask for guidance. It is up to you whether you see Yoga as a spiritual practice, mostly in the west it is seen as an exercise. Which is perfectly fine. 

Wrapping Up

In India, the land of Yoga, various social practices and traditions represent a reverence for ecological harmony, tolerance for other schools of thought, and empathy for all creations. 

Since yoga has such a long tradition, it provides us with a lot of benefits. We fight the pressures of our daily lives by taking the time to draw our consciousness inside during our yoga practice.

We at the Yogic-Experience team believe that everyone can practice yoga, regardless of their religious affiliation. If you find yourself doing things that go against your values, either avoid doing them or seek advice. It is entirely up to you if you consider Yoga to be a sacred practice; in the West, it is mostly regarded as an exercise. That’s entirely acceptable.

There’s a chance we’ll catch a glimpse of absolute illumination. And, of course, this would make all of the yogis before us very proud.

Yoga Sadhana in all hues and colors is thought to be a magic bullet for living a meaningful life. It is a worthy activity for citizens of all faiths, races, and nationalities because of its emphasis on holistic health, both individual and social.

Billions of people all over the world profit from the practice of Yoga, which has been maintained and encouraged by great eminent Yoga Masters from ancient times to the present. Yoga is rising in popularity and becoming more dynamic by the day.

Sumeet

Author

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