A brief history of yoga

Yoga is more than mastering postures and increasing your flexibility and strength. “The traditional purpose of Yoga, however, has always been to bring about a profound transformation in the person through the transcendence of the ego.”

In Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism the word yoga means “spiritual discipline”. People often associate yoga with the postures and stances that make up the physical activity of the exercise, but after closer inspection it becomes clear that there are many more aspects of yoga. It is an activity that has been practiced for thousands of years, and it is something that has evolved and changed overtime. Different factions of yoga have developed since its conception.

The exact history and origins of yoga is uncertain; however, there are pieces that have been connected and allow us to make some conclusions. It is known that yoga originated from the East. The earliest signs of yoga appear in ancient Shamanism. Evidence of yoga postures were found on artifacts that date back to 3000 B.C. Evidence of yoga is found in the oldest-existing text, Rig-Veda. Rig-Veda is a composition of hymns. Topics of the Rig-Veda include prayer, divine harmony, and greater being. “The primary goal of shamanism was to heal members of the community and act as religious mediators,” Yoga originally focused on applying and understanding the world. Its focus later changed to the self, self-enlightenment became the ultimate goal. It was not until the sixth century B.C. that the poses and meditation became a critical element. They were implemented by Buddhist teachings.

Modern Yoga differs greatly, the give basic principles of modern yoga that were created by Swami Sivananda include: proper relaxation, proper exercise, proper breathing, proper diet, and positive thinking and meditation.

I plan on further researching both modern and traditional, and into the modern day “yoga industry.”  One fact I did find is that mats were not even used in traditional yoga.  Now there is the “yoga pants” popular for women because they are comfortable, yet most of my friends that own these yoga pants do not even practice yoga.

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