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Yoga: practice through thousands of years (by Private)

In this article we are going to take a look at an ancient practice many of you have, if not tried out for yourself, at least heard a lot about, namely yoga. Though, as it would be impossible to cover all aspects of yoga in a short article, this article is only going to attempt to give you abrief introduction to what yoga is, look at parts of the history of yoga and its origin, and introduce a few of the many paths of yoga.

Yoga is a variety of physical, mental and spiritual practices originating in ancient India. In the western world today, yoga as a workout has become something mainstream, but true yoga is not really about breaking a sweat, but rather a philosophy of conscious living, often following Patanjali's eight-fold path, or the eight limbs of yoga. The sanskrit term yoga has different possible meanings, but, literally speaking, the term means to unite, which can be thought of as the union between individual consciousness and the Universal Consciousness, creating harmony between the mind and body, as well as man and nature. 

The ancient practice of yoga is thought to have been an oral tradition and practice, passed on directly from teacher to student, and therefore the earliest beginnings of yoga remain unclear. However, research suggests that yoga can be traced back over 5000 years to ancient India, possibly the Indus Valley Civilisation, which was a bronze age civilisation spread across the northwestern regions of South Asia. 

Varying sources tell different stories of how yoga developed in the early times, as it seems researchers have not yet found enough evidence to provide a chronological story. Yoga teachings can be found in the Vedas, the oldest known Indian religious texts, and these teachings can be referred to as Vedic yoga. Research suggests that the first of the four Vedas, the Rig-Veda or Rigveda, which consists of hymns in praise of a higher power, was composed somewhere around 1700 - 1100 BCE. The Vedas are some of the major Hindu scriptures still today, and are also mentioned as a part of the early history of Buddhism and Jainism. 

The most prominent period in the development and history of yoga, was the period between 500 BC and 800 AD which is referred to as the classical period of yoga. During this period, the sage Patanjali compiled older knowledge of yoga into what is known as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The eightfold yoga, also known as Raja-Yoga, was taught by Patanjali in his yoga sutra, which is a compilation of just under 200 sutras, or aphorisms, to guide one to enlightenment through living a meaningful and purposeful life. 

Modern yoga history is thought to have began with the first Parliament of Religions, held in Chicago in 1893, and a young Swami Vivekananda making a lasting impression on the American public. In his groundbreaking speech, Vivekananda introduced Hinduism to America as well as called for religious tolerance and an end to fanaticism, which led to him travelling around attracting a variety of students to Yoga in the following years. Other yoga masters had tried to spread their teachings to Europe prior to this event, but their influence remained local. Because of Vivekananda’s success, throughout the 20th century many gurus were able to bring their teachings across the world, and a variety of western yoga movements came into existence.


Some of the main paths of yoga are Bhakti yoga, the path of love and devotion, Jnana yoga, the path of knowledge, Karma yoga, the path of action and service, Raja yoga, which is the path following Patanjali’s yoga sutras and the eight limbs of yoga, and lastly, perhaps the most known yoga across the world, Hatha yoga. Hatha yoga includes postures and breathing techniques, and is usually the form of yoga referred to when speaking of ‘yoga’ in the west, which also has different branches of various styles and teachings. Due to hatha yoga being the path of yoga spread across the western world, and is the only path many people have even heard of, it has created misconceptions of what yoga actually is. The well known asanas, or postures, which are prominent in hatha yoga, is only a small part of what yoga is as a whole.

In this article we have just been able to look at the very brief version of the history of yoga, and not even began to explain everything that is yoga. There is so much more to yoga than what is written here, and if you are interested in practicing [hatha] yoga, I encourage you to do your own research. As yoga nowadays is seen by many as a mainstream practice, with benefits for both your physical being and mind, it is important to acknowledge its origins and remember that yoga in its traditional form still is a religious and spiritual practice, and the way of life, for many Hindus, Buddhists and Jains.

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Melinddd wrote on 17-07 14:35:
Melinddd wrote:
i really love yoga. sadly i do not have the discipline right now to do it on a regular basis but i do it now and then.i did know some stuff about the different kinds of yoga but nice to see the history all summed up !  

btw i really like how calming the layout is!
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Atencia wrote on 15-07 22:52:
Atencia wrote:
Thank you for the nice comments, I'm glad you enjoyed the article 

And a big thank you to Era for the beautiful layout!
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Atencia wrote on 15-07 22:51:
Atencia wrote:
Archangel wrote:
Such lovely post.I truly wish i was able to do yoga without dying

I am just confused.. how is this different than what BT do (not counting the html)
I suppose the biggest difference between NT and BT is that we in general have more of an objective point of view, whereas BT members have the possibility to write from their own personal experiences. We in NT also make interviews as well as our monthly magazine, which is a bit part of what we do. But, as you're kind of hinting to, our general articles and the official BT blogs can in fact seem very similar at times. 
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TogetherForever wrote on 15-07 19:04:
TogetherForever wrote:
Wonderful article!!
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Private wrote on 13-07 22:54:
Archangel wrote:
Such lovely post.I truly wish i was able to do yoga without dying

I am just confused.. how is this different than what BT do (not counting the html)
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Private wrote on 13-07 21:50:
Levana wrote:
i love this sm! as a hindu i really appreciate the research u did to talk about the history of yoga 
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SweetLapis wrote on 13-07 21:48:
SweetLapis wrote:
Very nice article, never known many of the things mentioned here.
Makes me want to dive more into what yoga is and it's various branches.
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Private wrote on 13-07 17:42:
Nesta wrote:
Libertas wrote:
Lovely layout and article 

I wish I was flexible enough to do yoga, it looks so calming 
Misconception. You become flexible by doing yoga. You don't have to be it when you start.
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Libertas wrote on 13-07 17:34:
Libertas wrote:
Lovely layout and article 

I wish I was flexible enough to do yoga, it looks so calming 

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