Yoga itself is considered to be the most ancient techniques that are found to be having the evidence in today’s world. Although many people are wary of yoga as either imagining it as a type of weird Eastern religion or else seeing it as a form of soft physical exercise practiced by middle aged ladies. But in actual it was here in our very own country India the yoga originated. Yoga is thus considered to be as old as are civilization. It was practiced only by yogis at first but after that with the passage of time people started to recognize its importance so it was regularly practiced by them. But as time passed by, we humans forgot what our great country has given us and we began to neglect it as merely just as some type of an Eastern religion or just soft exercise. But we have forgotten that the religion that is being followed by the Eastern countries or nations i.e. Buddhism is given to the world by our great country.
Also as the time passed by we have become so busy that our everyday stress is eating us away to death. There are many diseases that our related to our job, our regular chores that we do, then there are diseases that are related to our eating habits, then we have also diseases that are caused to us due to the lack of our physical exercise so in short we can say that we on the whole by not following yoga that is designed for our good health have surrounded ourselves with diseases that become incurable and lead us to death. It was already known by the greatest of the sages or yogis that if the human body does not binds itself to certain principles in life for health, consumption of food, to our seasons or environment and physical activities it was bound to fall in the hands of various diseases that will not allow it to live this fruitful life and enjoy it to the most.
Therefore keeping this in mind “YOGA” was developed that is an extremely a very effective and beneficial for of exercise for the body, mind and soul. Thus yoga not only brings an awareness to your body on how to sit, how to stand, how to breathe but also to focus your attention to your mind letting you learn how to relax.
Thus the history of yoga is not just merely confined to the past 10, 20, or even 50 to 100 years. But in actual the history of yoga is as old as our civilization. The various evidences of yoga are found even in the very oldest of the Vedas i.e. Rig – Veda that is just said to be a composition of hymns for the supreme power in the nature .i.e. God. When this world began to spread itself are over there were various religions that were coming into its frame but most of these religions although might have been different in their principles but were sharing a very common aspect i.e. Yoga whether it was Hinduism, Buddhism or Jainism. The very earliest of the archeological evidences that are found about yoga are from stone seals that are at least 3000 B.C. old. These stone seals on them have the pictures that are depicting the various yoga poses. As so it was that in Hinduism, Jainism & Buddhism the word yoga meant to be the “spiritual discipline”. But in actual it has been practiced for thousands of years and is something that has evolved and changed overtime and seeing its great aspects it will stay on for various upcoming years.
Further the evidences of yoga are even found in Shamanism the primary goal of which was to heal the members of community and to enact as the religious mediators. Then further their have been the discovery of several seals that belong to the Indus Valley Civilization (around 3300 – 1700 B.C.) that are depicting to be the figures as in yoga or even meditation. Although considering it on the broader terms the history of Yoga can be summed into four periods:
- The Vedic Period
- The Pre – Classical Period
- The Classical Period
- Post Classical Period
The Vedic Period:
Since Vedas is known as the collection of hymns in praise of the divine power there are even found to be the very oldest of the Yogic teachings that are known to be as the Vedic Yoga. These have been defined as the spiritual rituals and ceremonies that go way pass the limitations of the mind. In this period people relied on Vedic Yogis or rishi’s to teach them so as to live in divine harmony. These Vedic Yogis thus used to dwell or live in forests far away from the human civilizations and due to their yogic capabilities that they practiced daily they could see the ultimate reality and even perform various tasks that were not bound by the bodily limitations.
The Pre-Classical Period:
This was the period when the creation of the Upanishads resulted. These Upanishads were the conclusions of the revealed literature describing those inner visions of reality that are resulted from the devotion to ‘Brahma’. Explaining subjects as the Ultimate reality Brahma, Transcendental self ‘the Atma’ and the relationship between the two. And also explaining the teachings of Vedas. Yoga has found to be sharing some of its characteristics not only Hinduism but even with Buddhism & Jainism. It was Prince Siddhartha Gautam the first and founder of Buddhism to study, & practice Yoga thus achieving enlightenment at the age of only 35 years. So it was during the sixth century B.C. Buddha started teaching Buddhism that stresses on the importance of Meditation and the practice of various physical postures of Yoga.
Then later in around 500 B.C. when Bhagawat Gita was created it devoted entirely to Yoga and saying in confirmation that this was an old practice. Bhagawat Gita further tried to unify Bhakti Yoga, Ghayana Yoga & Karma Yoga in its teachings. Since it was based on three main principles Bhakti, Ghayana & Karma.
The Classical Period:
This was the period that was marked by the creation of the Yoga Sutra. That has been found to be created by – Patanjali somewhere around the second century to define and standardize Yoga. Containing 195 sutras (meaning threads) that illustrates Raj Yoga and it principles. It was Patanjali’s explanation of eight paths of Yoga or eight limbs of Yoga as:
- Yama, meaning the social restrain.
- Niyama, meaning personal purity, tolerance and study.
- Asana, physical exercises or restrain of movement.
- Pranayam, breath control & regulation.
- Pratyahara, senses withdrawal for preparation of Meditation.
- Dharana, concentration.
- Dhayan, Meditation.
- Samadhi, above these worldly desires.
The Post Classical Period:
In this period there was found to be the rise and practice of Yoga. This period differs from the other three as they focused more on present but this period no longer liberates a person from reality but it teaches to accept the reality and live at this moment.
Yoga was introduced into the West by the 19th century as a part for health and vegetarianism. But it was further Indian yogic teachers as Maharishi Mahesh who popularized Transcendental Meditation. There were many prominent names as Yoga Guru Swami Shivananda who is mostly known for his works and modification of the Five Principles of Yoga:
- Shavansana: lying as a corpse.
- Asana: the proper exercise.
- Pranayam: the proper way of breathing.
- Proper Diet.
- Dhayana: way of positive thinking or Meditation.
It was he who wrote 200 or more books on Yoga and Philosophy having many disciples who furthered disciplines of Yoga. It was he who explored the connection between psychology and yoga. Then it was Yogi Bhajan who started to tech Kundalini Yoga in seventies.
So yoga is not confined to few years only but it has a very big and vast history.