Yoga’s History, Origin, and Development

Introduction

What is Yoga? Yoga is fundamentally a spiritual discipline that uses subtle science to bring harmony between the mind and the body. It is a science and art of healthy living. Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root “Yuj”, which means “to join”, “to yoke” or “to unify”. Yoga, according to Yogic scriptures, leads to the union or yoke of individual consciousness and that of the Universal Consciousness. This indicates a perfect harmony between mind and body, Man and Nature. Modern scientists believe that everything in the universe is a manifestation of the same quantum firmament. This oneness of existence can be experienced by someone who is in yoga. They are called yogis, or yogis. Yoga’s goal is self-realization. It helps overcome sufferings and leads to freedom (Moksha or Kaivalya). Yoga practice will help you live with freedom in all areas of your life. Yoga is a practice that promotes freedom in all walks of life, harmony, and health.


Yoga’s Development and History:

Yoga practice is believed to have begun at the dawn of civilization. Yoga science dates back thousands of years, long before any religions or belief systems existed. According to yogic legend, Shiva also called as the Father of Yoga is the first Adiyogi or yogi and the first Guru/ Adi Guru.

Adiyogi, a great scholar, poured his vast knowledge on the legendary Saptarishis (or “seven sages”) several thousand years ago. These yogic sciences were then spread throughout the globe by the sages, who brought the powerful knowledge to many parts of the world, including Asia and the Middle East, Northern Africa, and South America. Modern scholars marvel at the similarities between ancient cultures around the world. The yogic system was able to express itself in its greatest form in India. Agastya, a Saptarishi who traveled across India, created this culture around a core yogaic way of living.

Numerous Indus Saraswati Valley civilization seals and fossils with Yotic motives, figures practicing yoga and other evidence of their existence indicate that there was Yoga in India.Indus Saraswati Valley civilization’s seals and fossils with Yogic motives, figures performing Yoga Sadhana and other evidence of yoga suggest that there was Yoga in India. Tantra Yoga is evident in the phallic symbols and seals of goddess idols that are indicative of it. The existence of Yoga can be found in folk traditions and Indus valley civilization, Vedic, Upanishadic, Vedic, Jain traditions, Darshanas and epics of Mahabharat, Ramayana, Tantric traditions and theistic traditions of Shaivas and Vaishnavas. There was also a pure or primordial Yoga, which is reflected in the mystical traditions of South Asia. This was when Yoga was practiced under Guru’s direct supervision and was given special significance. Yoga sadhana was an integral part of Upasana. The vedic period gave the sun the highest importance. This influence may have led to the later invention of the practice of ‘Surya namaskara. Pranayama was part of the daily ritual, and it was used to offer the oblation. Although Yoga was practiced pre-Vedic times, the great Sage Maharshi Patanjali codified and documented the existing practices and knowledge of Yoga through his Yoga Sutras. Many Sages and Yoga Masters, including Patanjali, contributed significantly to the preservation and advancement of the field through well-documented practices and literature.

SuryanamaskaraThe pre-Vedic period (2700 B.C.) was the earliest historical evidence of Yoga’s existence. The pre-Vedic period (2700 B.C.) was the first to show evidence of Yoga, and then until Patanjali’s time. Vedas (4) and Upanishads (108), Smritis, the teachings of Buddhism, Jainisms, Paninis, Epics (2), Puranas (19), etc. are the main sources from which we can get information about Yoga practices during this period.


The Classical period is generally considered to be between 500 BC and 800 A.D., which is also the most important and fertile period in the history of Yoga’s development and history. Vyasa’s commentaries on Yoga Sutras, Bhagawadgita, etc. were created during this period. This period is mainly dedicated two of the most important religious teachers in India, Mahavir and Buddha. As early Yoga sadhana, the concept of five great vows – Pancha Mahavrata- by Ashta Magga and Mahavir – can be considered. Bhagawadgita provides a more detailed explanation of the concept of Gyan yoga (Bhakti yoga), and Karma yoga (Karma Yoga). These three types are the best examples of human wisdom, and people still find peace following the Gita’s methods. Apart from describing various aspects of yoga and identifying eightfold paths of Yoga, Patanjali’s yoga Sutra is most commonly identified with them. Vyasa also wrote a very important commentary about Yoga sutra. Vyasa also wrote a very important commentary on Yoga sutra. This period saw the greatest contributions from Suradasa and Tulasidasa as well as Purandardasa and Mirabai. Some of the most prominent Hatha Yoga practitioners of this time were the Natha Yogis of Hathayoga Tradition, Matsyendaranatha and Swatmaram Suri.

Father of Yoga

Strange as it may sound, Lord Shiva is the father of yoga as well as the founder of yoga. In ancient texts, he is also called Adiyogi, or the first yogi, and not as a God. Nearly 15000 years ago, Lord Shiva achieved the stage of 100% enlightenment. He could use 100% his brain. He reached Himalayas, where he began dancing in ecstasy. People wanted to know the secret to his happiness. The secret was discovered by seven people, who stayed to learn it from him. These seven people are called the Saptrishis. These Saptrishis begged Lord Shiva to reveal the secrets behind his total enlightenment, and how to achieve such a blissful ecstatic state. Father of Yoga (Lord Shiva) did not respond because he was totally still and unaffected from the external world.
Shiva replied after begging for a while and said that the Saprishis weren’t prepared. In fact, in their current state, even a million years would not be enough to teach them. After 84 years, Lord Shiva was pleased that the Saprishis had started sadhana. After careful observation Shiva decided that Yogic Science should be taught to humans.
Yogic Science encompasses more than just exercises. It is a system that affects the whole human system. This knowledge was transmitted on the banks Kantisarovar, a lake located just a few kilometers from Kedarnath. Shiva showed the seven sages seven aspects of yoga, and asked them all to share the knowledge with the rest of the world. These sages then went on to seven other directions to share the knowledge and secrets of enlightenment they had accumulated over the years.

Modern Yoga

Modern Period is the period from 1700 to 1900 A.D., when the great Yogacharyas Ramana Maharshi and Ramakrishna Paramhansa as well as Paramhansa Yogananda and Vivekananda were active. This was when Raja Yoga developed. The main tenents to Hatha-yoga were Chaturanga yoga of Hathayogapradipika and Shadanga-yoga from Gorakshashatakam.
Everyone is now convinced that yoga practices are important for the promotion, preservation and maintenance of good health. Swami Shivananda and Shri T.Krishnamacharya and Swami Kuvalayananda have all helped spread yoga throughout the globe through their teachings. Swami Satyananda Srisvati, Iyengar and others.

According to many theories, Patanjali has been called the father of modern Yoga. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is a collection of aphoristic Sanskrit Sutras about the philosophy and practice ancient yoga. These writings do not explain in detail the 12 postures that include Bhadra asana, paryanka asana, Veera asana, svastika asana, Padma asana, hastanishada asana, samasansathana asana, kraunchanishada asana, sopasraya asana, danda asana, ushtranishada asana. 

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are revered texts for those who practice modern Yoga.

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