History Of Yoga: Its Origin And Development

Yoga is a fundamental spiritual practice founded on an extremely subtle science that is focused on creating harmony between body and mind. It is an ancient technique and application of knowledge of living healthy. The word Yoga is derived from the root word “Yuj” which means Union, or to tie, or to add, or to join. According to ancient scriptures, Yoga means the union of individual consciousness with the universal consciousness.  Let us understand the history of yoga, its origin and development. This indicates that there is a perfect harmony between body and mind, Man & Nature. According to modern science everything that exists in the universe is an expression that is a quantum form. Anyone who can experience this oneness of existence is thought to be in Yoga and is referred to as a yogi. He has reached a state of liberation, also known as nirvana, mukti, or moksha. The goal of Yoga is self-realization and to be able to conquer any kind of suffering, leading to the freedom state’ (Moksha) or ‘freedom’ (Kaivalya). Freedom throughout all aspects of life and having harmony and health should be the primary goal in Yoga practice. “Yoga” also refers to an inner science that includes many methods by which humans can achieve this union and attain control over their destiny. Yoga is widely recognized as an “immortal” cultural product from the Indus Saraswati Valley culture – which dates as far back as 2700 B.C. It has proven its ability to cater to both the material and spiritual advancement of humanity. Basic human values form the essence that is the essence of Yoga Sadhana.

A Brief History of Yoga and Its Development:

Yoga is a practice that is believed to have begun with the beginning of civilization. Yoga’s philosophy is a result of many thousands of years prior to the time the first faith or religion systems came into existence. According to the yogic legend, Shiva is seen as the first yogi, or Adiyogi, and the very first Guru, or Adi Guru. A few thousand years ago, amid Lake Kanti sarovar within the Himalayas, Adiyogi poured his vast knowledge into the legends of Saptarishis (also known as “seven sages.”).  The Sages carried this spiritual practice across different regions of the globe, including Asia and in the Middle East, Northern Africa, and South America. Interestingly, contemporary scholars have observed as well the strong similarities between ancient civilizations all over the world. But the most significant difference was that within India, the yogic philosophy was able to express itself in its fullest form. Agastya, the Saptarishi who traveled through all of the Indian subcontinents, created the Indian subcontinent’s culture around a central yoga-based way of living.
history of yoga
The number of seals and fossil remains from the Indus Saraswati Valley civilization, with Yogic motives and images of Yoga Sadhana, suggests the existence of Yoga in the past of India. The phallic seals, phallic symbols of goddesses’ idols, are a hint of Tantra Yoga. The presence of Yoga can be found in the folklore, Indus valley civilization, Vedic and Upanishad traditions, Buddhist and Jain traditions, Darshanas, epics of Mahabharat, and Ramayana, and theistic practices from Shaivas, Vaishnavas, and Tantric practices. There was also an ancient or pure Yoga that has been portrayed in the mystical traditions from South Asia. This was the period when Yoga was practiced under the direct direction of the Guru, and its spiritual value was given particular importance. It was a component of Upasana, and yoga sadhana was an integral part of the rituals. Sun was regarded as the most important thing in the vedic period. That is why the Surjyanamaskra is a great invention and connection with the Sun.  Pranayama was a component of everyday rituals and also to perform the offering of oblation. Although Yoga was practiced throughout the pre-Vedic age, the legendary Sage Maharshi Patanjali systematized and codified the practice of Yoga, its purpose, and the related knowledge in the Yoga Sutras. Following Patanjali, several Sages along with Yoga Masters contributed greatly to the advancement and preservation of the field with their well-documented practices and written works.   The historical evidence that supports the practice of Yoga was observed during the pre-Vedic time (2700 B.C. ) as well as later on until the time of Patanjali. The primary sources from which we can get details on Yoga practices and related literature of this time are found from Vedas (4), Upanishads(108), Smritis, teachings of Buddhism, Jainism, Panini, Puranas(18 Epics-excluding Ramayana & Maha Bharata) so on… The period between 500 BC and the year 800 A.D. is considered as the Classical period. It is believed to be one of the richest and most prominent periods in the development and history of Yoga. During this time, commentary on Vyasa regarding Yoga Sutras and Bhagavadgita, etc., became in existence.     This period is dedicated to two of the most revered spiritual teachers from India, Mahavir and Buddha. The idea of the Five great vows which is Pancha mahavrata- authored by Mahavir in addition to Ashtanga or the eightfold path taken by Buddha is seen as the beginning of Yoga sadhana. It is a clearer explanation in Bhagavadgita that elaborately explains the idea consisting of Gyan Yoga, Bhakti yoga, and Karma Yoga. The three kinds of Yoga are the most exemplary examples of human wisdom today; many can find peace through the principles outlined in Gita. The yoga sutra, written by Patanjali has a variety of details of Yoga, and is most often associated with the eight fold path of Yoga. The most significant commentaries on the Yoga sutra written by Vyasa are also written. At this time, the mental aspect was given prominence and was clearly demonstrated through Yoga sadhana. The body and mind can be controlled and experience equanimity. The time between 800 A.D. – 1700 A.D. is regarded as the Post Classical period where in the wisdom of Acharya Adi Shankracharya, Madhavacharya, Ramanujacharya, and Ramanujachar during this time. The wisdom from Suradasa, Tulasidasa, Purandardasa Mirabai and Tulasidasa were major influencers of this time. The Natha Yogis of Hathayoga Tradition was such as Matsyendaranatha, Gorkshanatha, Cauranginatha, Swatmaram Suri, Gheranda Shrinivasa Bhatt are some of the most notable personalities who promoted the Hatha Yoga practices during this period.

Philosophy of Yoga

The fundamental idea in Yoga is connecting the body, mind, and soul. The six yoga forms are the most important to Yoga. Each chapter is a unique area of focus and set of characteristics.

The six branchings comprise:

· Hatha yoga – This is the physical and mental branch that aims to strengthen the body and mind. · Raja yoga –  This practice involves mindfulness and strict adherence to a set of disciplined actions referred to as the eight parts of Yoga. · Karma yoga –  This is a way of service that seeks to create a better future, free of selfishness and negativity. · Bhakti yoga – This is a way to create a path of devotion, which is a positive method to channel emotions and to cultivate tolerance and acceptance. · Jnana yoga –  The Jnana yoga branch is all about wisdom as well as the path of the scholar and the development of the mind through studying. · Tantra yoga – The path of the ceremony, ritual, or the consummation of a relationship.

Types of Yoga

Modern Yoga concentrates on fitness agility, strength, and breathing. It is a great way to help trusted Sources improve the physical and mental well-being of their clients. When we dive deep into the history of yoga, we come across various styles and practices. It is essential to choose one based on an individual’s fitness goals and level. Styles and types that Yoga includes:

Ashtanga yoga

This form of Yoga is based on ancient yoga practices. However, it gained popularity in the 1970s. An ashtanga is a form of Yoga that uses identical sequences and poses that link each movement to breathing.

Bikram yoga

People engage in Bikram yoga which is also known as hot Yoga. It is practiced in heated spaces at temperatures that are close to 105 degrees Farenhiet and 40% humidity. It’s comprised of 26 postures and a series consisting of 2 breathing techniques.

Hatha yoga

It’s a broad word that refers to any kind of Yoga that teaches physical postures. Classes in Hatha are usually an easy introduction to the most basic postures of Yoga.

Iyengar yoga

This kind of yoga practice is focused on determining the right posture alignment by using various props like blankets, blocks and straps, chairs, and even bolsters.

Kripalu yoga

This kind of practice helps practitioners recognize, accept, and gain knowledge from their bodies. Students of Kripalu yoga are taught to recognize their own practice level by looking within. The classes typically start through a breathing exercise and light stretching which are followed by a series of individual exercises and a final relaxation.

Kundalini yoga

Kundalini yoga can be described as a type of meditation that seeks to release the energy stored in your body.  There are asana, pranayama, and meditation, all of which aim to produce a particular final result.

Power yoga

As we learn more about the history of yoga, we come to know that in the latter half of the 1980s, practitioners began to develop this vigorous and athletic form of Yoga based on the ancient Ashtanga practice.


Viniyoga concentrates on form and function, breath and adaption, holding and repetition, and the science and art of sequence.

Yin yoga

Yin yoga is a form of Yoga that focuses on holding poses passively for extended durations of time. This form of Yoga targets the deep tissues and joints, ligaments, fascia, and bones. History of yoga

What are the health benefits of Yoga?

Dozens of research studies of variation in quality are published regarding Yoga. Although there is room for more thorough studies of the health benefits of Yoga, the majority of studies indicate that Yoga is a secure and efficient method to boost physical activity, particularly the ability to move, flexibility, and strength. There’s evidence to suggest that regular Yoga can benefit people suffering from high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as injuries and pains, including lower back pain, stress, and depression. Clearing Misconceptions about Yoga Many of those who practice Yoga are limited only to Hatha Yoga and Asanas (postures). But, of the Yoga Sutras, just three sutras are dedicated to asanas. The essence of Hatha Yoga is a prerequisite practice to ensure that the body is able to sustain greater levels of energy. The method starts with the body, then breathing, the mind, and finally, the internal self. Yoga is also widely regarded as a treatment or exercise method for fitness and health. While mental and physical health is normal outcomes from yoga practice, the purpose of Yoga has a greater scope. Yoga is not a part of any specific religion, belief system, or group and has been considered a tool for inner well-being. Anyone who practices Yoga in the way that is meaningful, will be able to reap the benefits regardless of faith or ethnicity. Culture. Traditional Schools of Yoga: These various philosophical traditions, lineages, and Guru-shishya paramparas of Yoga have led to the creation of distinct Traditional Schools of Yoga, these are Jynana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karama Yoga, Dhyana Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Manra Yoga, Laya Yoga, Tantra Yoga, Raja Yoga, Jaina Yoga, Buddha Yoga etc.,  Each school has its own set of principles and practices, which lead to the final purpose and goals of Yoga.

Yoga Practices for Health and Wellness:

The widely-practiced yoga sadhanas (Practices) include: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana (Meditation), Samadhi /Samyama, Bandhas and Mudras, Shat-karmas Yukta-ahara Yukta Karma, Mantra japa etc. Yama’s are restrictions, and Niyama’s are the observances. They are thought of as essential prerequisites to yoga Sadhanas (Practices). Asanas, capable of bringing about the stability of the body, consists of adopting various body (psycho-physical) patterns, giving the ability to maintain a body position (a stable awareness of one’s structural existence) for a considerable length and amount of time as well.   Pranayama involves the development of awareness of breathing then consciously regulating breathing as the vital element that makes up one’s life. It assists in developing awareness of the mind and aids in developing control over one’s mind. In the beginning, it is achieved by gaining awareness of the flow of out-breath and in-breath (svasa-prasvasa) through nostrils, mouth, lungs, and other openings in the body and its internal and external routes and places of destination. In later stages, this phenomenon is altered through controlled and controlled inhalation (svasa) that leads to awareness of the body’s space/s being filled (puraka) and the body space/s remaining in a full condition (kumbhaka) and then it’s being empty (rechaka) when you regulate exhalation that is controlled and monitored (prasvasa). Pratyahara is a sign of dissociation of awareness (withdrawal) of the organs that sense that help one remain in touch with the external world. Dharana is a broad-based area of attunement (inside the mind and body) which is often interpreted as concentration. Dhyana (Meditation) refers to contemplation (focussed concentration within the mind and body) and Samadhi Integration.   To get into this wonderful practice, one can join this spiritual 200 hours yoga TTC program and begin a transformational journey.
Pramod Sahoo
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