The Origin of Yoga – Its History and Changing Culture

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. Believed to be originated more than 5000 years ago in ‘the spiritual capital of the world’, 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 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

Primarily, 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 Upanishads, a part of the revered Vedic texts in themselves, have in meticulous details the accounts of Yoga practices, and how they evolved over time. And so do the Mahabharata, and in the Bhagavad Geeta where the forms of Yoga are mentioned; many in number, Jnana yoga, Bhakti yoga, Karma yoga and Raja yoga just to mention a few. From the detailed study of those accounts mentioned, one may as well conclude, yoga then was more of lifestyle rather than breathing or a posture-related practice. Regardless, yoga is perhaps most systematically elaborated and presented in the ancient philosophy, The Patanjali Yoga Sutras.

The Patanjali Yoga Sutras

At the time when the Ayurveda was the greatest wisdom, people had to cure their illness. Patanjali discoursed this powerful knowledge, which came to be known as ‘Yoga Sutras’. The creator of the sutras (formulae/threads of knowledge) is Maharishi Patanjali, who is also considered as ‘The Father of Yoga’. The Yoga Sutras is perhaps the most systematically elaborated and presented philosophy of Yoga that makes yoga easy to understand and practice for anyone.

The Patanjali Yoga Sutras are completely dedicated to the knowledge of Yoga which still is the strongest influencer of most modern forms of yoga. It is an ancient philosophy that enlightens one in the knowledge of yoga, its origin, and the ultimate purpose. Its purpose is to make the principles and practices of the Yoga formulae more understandable and accessible for all. In the Yoga Sutras, practical and easy suggestions are presented through which one can experience the ultimate benefits of a yogic lifestyle.

These sutras guide not only the mind but also one’s very being to its full potential. Basically, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras offer a systematic form of wisdom for attaining self-realization/enlightenment. Thus, the Yoga Sutras from Patanjali stand tall as one of the best and the most practiced philosophy in the realm of a spiritual journey for yogis.

History of YogaSource

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, that shows a figure sitting in a yogic posture. Thus, explaining how yoga was already known and practiced even then. Indus Valley Civilization, the 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 Changes In The Culture and Periods of Yoga – Classical to Modern Period

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, and general outlook of Yoga was changed to Raja yoga, to the classical then the Post-classical period when in its newer outlook it was revamped to focus more on greater importance to the Asanas, 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 to 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.

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