History of Yoga Origin of Yoga

History of YogaMany people are taking up yoga techniques for physical exercise, and most don’t know the history of yoga. It is followed as a daily regiment to promote a more healthy body.

The practice and goal of yoga dates back to the Upanishads written between 1000-5000 BC. The history of yoga is based in the Indus Valley civilization.

Since it is taught by the yogis that everything is God, it then stands to reason, man is God. Christianity, on the other hand, teaches us there is a clear distinction between man and God. Since God is the Creator, we are one of his creations and created in the image of God.

The Vedic Samhitas contain references to ascetics, while ascetic practices are referenced in 900 B.C.E. and 500 B.C.E. Several seals discovered at Indus Valley Civilization (c. 3300–1700 B.C.E.) sites depict what may be figures in a yoga- or meditation-like posture, a form of ritual discipline, suggesting a precursor of yoga.

Many believe that Yoga existed long before that and traced its beginnings in Stone Age Shamanism. Both Shamanism and Yoga have similar characteristics that stress to improve the human condition at that time. Also, they aim to heal community members and the practitioners act as religious mediators. Yoga started out as community-oriented before it turned inward.

The Vedas also indicate the presence of Yoga in that era. Vedas, the sacred scripture of Brahmanism and collection of hymns, praise a divine power. The Vedas contains the oldest known Yogic teachings and as such, teachings found in the Vedas are called Vedic Yoga. This is characterized by rituals and ceremonies that strive to surpass the limitations of the mind.

During Vedic time, people relied Vedic Yogis to teach them how to live in divine harmony. During this time that Yogis living in seclusion in forests were recorded.

The Yoga described in the Sutras by Patanjali is usually referred to as Classical Yoga. The Yoga Sutras consists of about 200 words of wisdom. Here Yoga is presented in a systematic and approachable way, and is seen as an important source of yogic understanding. Patanjali considers that every individual consists of two parts - matter (prakiti) and soul (purusha). It further says that the goal of Yoga is to free the soul from the material world so that it can be in its original and pure form. Patanjali denotes philosophical dualism that considers Indian philosophy is of a non-dualistic nature. It perceives the world as pure and shapeless but with conscious existence.

Several centuries after Patanjali, the evolution of Yoga took another turn. Yogis did not pay much attention to the physical body but focused all their energy on contemplation and meditation. They aimed at leaving their bodies and the world, in order to re-unite with the shapeless reality called ‘soul’.

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