History Of Yoga

History Of Yoga

The history of yoga has numerous areas of mystery and confusion due to the oral transmissions of the sacred text as well as the secrecy surrounding its instructions. The earliest writings on yoga were written on delicate palm leaves that could easily be damaged and lost or destroyed. The evolution of yoga is traceable back more than 5,000 years ago, however some scientists believe that yoga is up 10000 years. Yoga’s rich and long history can be broken down into four periods of practice, innovation and growth.

The roots of Yoga were discovered by the Indus-Saraswati civilization in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. The term yoga appeared in one of the oldest of sacred texts, that of the Rig Veda. The Vedas consisted of texts that contained songs as well as rituals, mantras and other mantras that were used by Brahmans and those who served as Vedic priests. Yoga was refined slowly and refined by the Brahmans as well as Rishis (mystic seers) who recorded their practices and beliefs through their upanishads which is a massive work that contains more than 200 texts. The most well-known of the Yogic texts is the Bhagavad-Gita written around 500 B.C.E. The Upanishads adopted the concept of sacrifice ritual of the Vedas and integrated it, educating the devotion to the self by self-knowledge as well as the practice of action ( karma yoga) and wisdom (jnana yoga).

 

Classical Yoga

In the early stages of classical, yoga was a muddle of diverse ideas, beliefs and methods that often clashed and conflicted with each other. The Classical phase is described in Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutras which is the first comprehensive explanation of yoga. Written sometime in the 2nd century the text describes the practice of RAJA yoga, commonly referred to as “classical yoga”. Patanjali structured Yoga as the form of an “eight limbed path” containing the steps and stages to reaching Samadhi or awakening. Patanjali is often regarded as the founder of yoga, and his Yoga-Sutras remain a major influence on the practices of contemporary yoga.

Post-Classical Yoga

A few centuries later Patanjali Yoga masters came up with the practice of yoga to revitalise the body and prolong the lifespan. They resisted the wisdom from the old Vedas and accepted our physical bodies as a method to attain spiritual awakening. They created Tantra Yoga, using radical methods to cleanse the mind and body to untie the ties that connect people to their physical. This investigation of the physical and spiritual connection and body-centred practices resulted in the development of the most commonly thought of Yoga in our West: Hatha Yoga.

Modern Period

In the latter part of the 1800s and into the early 1900s yoga teachers started travelling into the West attracted interest and followers. The first time this happened was in 1893 at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in which Swami Vivekananda amazed the crowd with his presentations regarding yoga as well as the universality of various religions of the world. The 1920s as well as the 1930s, Hatha Yoga was strongly propagated in India thanks to an influx of work by T. Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda and other yogis practising Hatha Yoga. Krishnamacharya founded his first Hatha Yoga school in Mysore in 1924. In 1936, Sivananda established the Divine Life Society on the banks of the sacred Ganges River. Krishnamacharya had three students who continued his legacy and grew its popularity. Hatha Yoga: B.K.S. Iyengar, T.K.V. Desikachar and Pattabhi Jois. Sivananda is a successful writer and published more than 200 yoga-related books and also established nine ashrams, as well as numerous yoga centres around the globe.

The introduction of yoga into the West continued to be an ebb until Indra Devi set up her own yoga school at Hollywood the year 1947. Since then, numerous western and Indian instructors have been the first to introduce hatha yoga, and garnering many thousands of adherents. Hatha Yoga now offers a variety of styles or schools, all emphasising the various elements of this practice.