History of Yoga
Yoga is a practice that has been around for thousands of years and has undergone numerous changes and developments throughout its history. The history of yoga can be divided into five main periods: Vedic Period, Pre-Classical Period, Classical Period, Post-Classical Period, and Modern Period. Here are some facts about the history of yoga:
- The history of yoga can be traced back over 5,000 years to the Vedic Period in ancient India.
- During the Vedic Period, religious texts known as The Vedas contained spiritual poems and hymns that helped people achieve spiritual enlightenment.
- The earliest reference to yoga can be traced back to over 3,000 years ago in the Indus-Sarasvati civilization.
- Yoga was originally an oral tradition and many teachings were passed down through generations before being written down.
- The Pre-Classical Period began over 5,000 years ago with the Indus-Sarasvati civilization and can be traced back to the Rig Veda.
- During the Pre-Classical Period, important yoga texts such as the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita were created.
- The Classical Period, which began around 200 BCE and lasted until 500 CE, saw the creation of numerous yoga texts and the emergence of different schools of yoga.
- The Post-Classical Period lasted from 1500 CE to 1899 CE and was characterized by the development of Hatha yoga.
- The Modern Period, which began in the early 1900s, saw the introduction of yoga to the West and the rise of different styles of yoga.
- The Bhagvad-Gita, an important yogic text, was translated into English by Charles Wilkins, helping to spread yogic ideals and Indian culture to Europe and America.
Despite the many changes and developments that yoga has undergone throughout its history, its core values and principles have remained the same. Today, yoga is practiced by people all over the world and is recognized for its many benefits to both physical and mental health.
Evolution of Yoga
- Yoga has evolved over time from a spiritual practice to a physical and mental practice.
- Modern yoga originated 300 years ago and evolved into many different schools and styles.
- Yoga began to make its way into the local gyms and into standalone studios in the 1950s and 60s.
- Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga gained popularity in the 1970s and flowing styles based on it have become popular in the 1980s.
- Hatha Yoga was developed, evolved, and popularized by Tirumalai Krishnamacharya in the 1900s.
- B.K.S. Iyengar developed his system of yoga based on physical alignment and therapeutic benefits in the 1950s.
- Modern Period includes many forms of yoga, such as Vinyasa Yoga, Hot Yoga, Anusara Yoga, and Animal Yoga.
- Hatha Yoga is probably the most popular style of yoga practiced in the Western world, introduced by T. Krishnamacharya along with influential students like B.K.S. Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois.
- The birth of Hatha yoga gave rise to the root chakras we relate to today.
Yoga has a rich and evolving history that spans back more than 3000 years. Over the years, the practice has undergone various changes, from its spiritual roots to its modern-day physical and mental practice. In this section, we will explore the evolution of yoga over the years.
Yoga originated in India over 3000 years ago as a spiritual practice. It was initially designed to help people achieve spiritual enlightenment and connect with the divine. However, over time, yoga started to adapt to the cultural and societal changes of the time, and new schools and styles were developed.
In the 1950s and 60s, yoga started to make its way into gyms and standalone studios. This was a crucial moment in the evolution of yoga as it allowed the practice to be accessible to everyone. Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga gained popularity in the 1970s, and its flowing style became the inspiration for many other modern yoga styles.
Hatha Yoga was a significant development in the history of yoga. It is derived from ancient Indian traditions and was developed, evolved, and popularized by Tirumalai Krishnamacharya in the 1900s. The practice focuses on the body and breathing, helping to harmonize and balance the body, mind, and spirit. B.K.S. Iyengar developed his system of yoga based on physical alignment and therapeutic benefits in the 1950s, emphasizing the importance of proper alignment in the postures.
Today, there are many different forms of yoga, ranging from Vinyasa Yoga to Hot Yoga, Anusara Yoga, and Animal Yoga. However, Hatha Yoga is still one of the most popular styles of yoga practiced in the Western world, and it is the root of the chakras we relate to today.
Hinduism and Yoga
Understanding the history of yoga is essential in appreciating the original meaning of the practice and taking it to a deeper level. Yoga is deeply rooted in Hinduism, which encompasses many schools of yoga. Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world, and yoga has been a part of this religious tradition since time immemorial.
Patanjali is known as the Father of Yoga for organizing the practice into an eight-limbed path. Classical Yoga is defined by Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutras, which organized the practice of yoga into an “eight-limbed path.” The eight limbs include ethical principles, physical practices, breath control, sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation, and samadhi, or union with the divine.
The basis of yoga philosophy, which was taught by the Vedic priests, was to teach self-knowledge and internal wisdom. The Vedic texts contain many references to yoga and its practices, indicating its long history in India.
The Tantra philosophy emerged during 450-1100 and allowed for equality in spirituality, irrespective of gender or caste. This philosophy viewed the body as a sacred vessel for spiritual growth, and therefore emphasized physical practices such as hatha yoga as a means to achieve enlightenment.
The Samkhya Karika is a fundamental text explaining the Samkhya philosophy, which forms the underpinning of all viewpoints known as Hindu. Samkhya is one of the six orthodox schools of Hinduism, and it focuses on the attainment of knowledge and discrimination as a means of liberation.
The Vedas are the oldest religious texts and contain foundational understanding of Sanatana Dharma, the eternal truth. The Upanishads are a collection of texts embedded in the Vedas that explain the metaphysical underpinnings of Sanatana Dharma. These texts discuss the nature of the self, the nature of reality, and the means to achieve liberation.
The Puranas are a vast collection of texts that cover a wide range of subjects, including legends, folklore, grammar, and medicine. The Ramayana is an epic story that highlights the need for courage and determination in the face of evil and is often seen as an allegory for achieving liberation from the gunas, the three qualities of nature that bind the human consciousness.
The influence of social media, particularly Instagram and YouTube, has contributed to the popularity of yoga. With the help of social media, yoga has gained global recognition and acceptance. Today, it is widely practiced and has become a way of life for millions around the world.
Yoga has a rich and ancient history, with its roots tracing back to Vedic literature, which consists of spiritual poems and hymns in ancient Indo-European language. The word “yoga” originated from this literature and translates to “yoke” or “union.” It encompasses the unification of the mind and body, breath and energy, and soul and body.
Patanjali, a Hindu philosopher, compiled the Yoga Sutras around 200 AD. These sutras are considered the core of yoga philosophy today. Patanjali explained the practice of yoga as a method to control the fluctuations of the mind and to reach an enlightened state. The Yoga Sutras are a classic representation of Samkhya philosophy and emphasize the goal of transcending the material realm through discrimination and jnana yoga.
The philosophy of yoga seeks to build harmony, awareness, and strength in the mind and body. It aims to unite the self with the divine, to transcend the limitations of the ego, and to become one with the universe. The practice of yoga seeks to become free from desires and worldly attachments to reach a state of pure consciousness.
|The eight yoga sutras were written by Patanjali during 200 AD and exist today as the core of yoga.||The philosophy of yoga seeks to build harmony, awareness, and strength in the mind and body.|
|Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are a classic representation of Samkhya philosophy and emphasize the goal of transcending the material realm through discrimination and jnana yoga.||The practice of yoga seeks one’s true self and aims to become devoid of desires and worldly attachments.|
Yoga is not just a physical practice but a complete system of personal development and spiritual growth. It aims to transform the mind, body, and spirit, creating greater self-awareness and inner peace. By learning to control the mind and breath, practitioners of yoga can improve their mental and physical well-being, reduce stress and anxiety, and deepen their connection to the universe.
Famous Yoga Texts
Yoga has a rich history that spans over 5,000 years, and over time, many texts have been written to document and preserve the practice. Here are some of the most famous yoga texts that have had a profound impact on modern-day yoga.
- The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: This text was written approximately 2,000 years ago and is considered one of the most important texts on yoga philosophy. It outlines the eight limbs of yoga and provides guidance on how to achieve a state of inner peace and enlightenment through the practice of yoga.
- The Bhagavad Gita: This text, which dates back to around 500 BCE, is a part of the epic poem Mahabharata. It includes teachings on various approaches to yoga and is centered around the importance of dharma.
- The Mahabharata: This epic poem is one of the longest texts in the world and is estimated to have been written between 400 BCE and 400 CE. It includes teachings on various approaches to yoga and is centered around the importance of dharma.
- The Amanaskayoga: This text is considered the first to teach a yoga called rajayoga, which focuses on meditation techniques.
- The Yogacintamani: This text includes elaborate descriptions of thirty-four asanas, or yoga postures.
- The Gherandasamhita: This text is instrumental in our modern understanding of hatha yoga, as it presents detailed techniques for asanas and pranayama (breathing exercises).
- “Light on Hatha Yoga”: This book, written by B.K.S. Iyengar, is considered one of the most comprehensive guides to yoga poses and includes detailed instructions on how to perform each asana correctly.
- The Sritattvanidhi: This compendium was commissioned by a Maharaja and is thought to have heavily drawn from the hathabhyasapaddahti. It includes descriptions of various asanas, mudras, and bandhas (energy locks).
- The Shivasamhita: This text explains the non-dual philosophy of Advaita-Vedanta but then returns to explaining yoga physiology related to Kundalini, the dormant energy located at the base of the spine.
- The Amrtasiddhi: This is the earliest substantial text on Hatha Yoga and focuses on the role of bindi (energy centers) in the body.
These texts have helped shape the modern practice of yoga and continue to inspire yogis all over the world. They provide a rich source of knowledge and inspiration for those seeking to deepen their practice and understanding of yoga philosophy. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced practitioner, taking the time to read and reflect on these texts can be a transformative experience that enriches your yoga practice and your life as a whole.
Yoga in the West
Yoga has been a part of Indian culture for over 5,000 years, and originally it was only practised there. However, in the late 1800s, it started becoming more well-known in the Western world. Indian monks, gurus, and travellers began sharing their knowledge of yoga with interested Westerners.
The Post-Classical Period, which lasted from 500-1500 CE, saw yoga becoming more popular in India. As more people began practising it, different schools of yoga started emerging. These schools had different philosophies and practices, but all focused on bringing the practitioner to a state of enlightenment.
|1893||Swami Vivekananda introduces yoga to the West at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago|
|1920s-30s||Krishnamacharya develops a modern style of yoga, influenced by gymnastics, which emphasizes physical postures rather than spiritual practice|
|1960s-70s||Yoga becomes popular among counterculture movement in the United States and Europe|
|1990s-present||Yoga becomes mainstream in the West, with many different styles and approaches being taught|
In 1893, Swami Vivekananda introduced yoga to the West when he spoke at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago. His teachings were influential in the development of yoga in the Western world.
In the 1920s and 30s, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya developed a modern style of yoga that emphasized physical postures and breath work. This style was influenced by gymnastics and other physical practices, and it became popular in India and eventually spread to the West.
In the 1960s and 70s, yoga became popular among the counterculture movement in the United States and Europe. It was seen as a way to rebel against the mainstream and connect with ancient spiritual traditions. Many Westerners travelled to India to study yoga with gurus and masters, and they brought what they learned back home with them.
Today, yoga is mainstream in the West. It is taught in gyms and yoga studios all over the world, and there are many different styles and approaches to the practice. Some people still see it as a spiritual practice, while others view it purely as a physical exercise. Regardless of how it is viewed, yoga remains an important part of many people’s lives.