Yoga has its roots up to the ancient times of civilization. From the Vedas to modern practices in the gyms, it has come a long way. Though the origins of yoga are shrouded in mystery and mythology and many tales make up much of the obscure narrative, the conception of the first practices in yoga as the historians point out may date back to around 500 BC.
The origin of yoga is believed to have happened more than 5000 years ago in ‘the spiritual capital of the world’ – Rishikesh, India.
Nonetheless, some historians find clues for the first yoga practices to have dated even back to 10,000 years ago, often citing the mention of the word Yoga in the Rig-Veda, presumably the oldest text of the Indo-Aryan Civilization still extant, and an ancient Indian collection of Vedic hymns.
The Origin of Yoga
The earliest mention of the powerful techniques is known to be found in the oldest known literature, the Rig Veda. However, the earliest mention of the philosophy that later became a part of yoga is found in the oldest Upanishad, Brihadaranyaka. One of the most renowned of the Yogic scriptures is the Bhagavad Gita, composed around 500 B.C.E.
Here, yoga as a concept slowly emerged and has an elaborate mention of its philosophy. However, there is Yoga Vasishtha and more than 20 Upanishads. where Yoga is stated to be the union of mind with the Supreme Consciousness. Interestingly, it even predates Mahabharata and Bhagavad Gita.
The History of Yoga
Historians state that the practice of yoga even dates back to the Indus Valley Civilisation (3000-1800 BCE), and the Quetta, Harappan, and Mohenjo Daro civilizations. Excavations carried out in these areas brought to light the Pashupati Seal, which shows a figure sitting in a yogic posture.
Thus, explaining how yoga was already known and practiced even then. Indus Valley Civilization, present-day Northern India is said to be the cradle of this tradition with a rich and glorious history.
Owing to its origin in the Pre-Vedic periodic, it gradually was transformed and refined over time by its practitioners; the Brahmin priest and the Hindu Rishis – the mystics.
The Changing Culture of Yoga
In due course, the tradition traversed its path through the Vedic period when yoga was practiced ritually, to develop concentration, and to transcend the mundane. The classical period when more concise aphorism, or the Sutras, for yoga practice was conceived.
The general outlook of Yoga was changed to Raja yoga, to the classical and then the Post-classical period when in its newer outlook it was revamped to focus more on greater importance to the Asanas (Yoga Pose), Kriyas, and Pranayama, for cleansing of the body and mind.
Eventually to the Modern period, when Swami Vivekananda along with other great saints introduced Yoga to the western world. At the same as the events, and the revamped outlooks of the ancient traditions kept unfolding, they were well scripted, recorded, and passed over to generations that came by, in many scriptures of the Hindu dharma.