Yoga has emerged over the years as invaluable, ancient knowledge, and has merged with modern practices today. Early writings about it are traced to over 5,000 years ago.The knowledge has lived on, passed from one generation of practitioners to another generation.
Shamanism And Yoga
It is believed that yoga is an eight-limb structure and has its origin in Shamanism from the Stone Age. The shaman is considered a precursor to the yogi. Related to the yogic culture, the shamanistic culture adored the sacred art of altering one’s awareness or consciousness.
Both these practices hold spiritual ideals and were focused on the well-being of humans.Like yoga, shamanism was executed to heal and alleviate human suffering. The biggest difference between Shamanism and Yoga is that yoga is perceived as an individual-focused practice, while shamanism was more of a community-focused practice where practitioners also acted as religious mediators.
‘Om’ is a sacred sound and spiritual icon in Hinduism. It is the yoga symbol, which is connected to the Ajna chakra (the conscience). Shiva, one of the supreme gods in Hinduism, used to practice it in lotus pose chanting ‘Om’.
Yoga From Its Origin
Yoga was developed during the Indus civilization in northern India over 2,500 years ago. However, the first mention of it is in the classical Rig Veda, over 5,000 years ago. Yoga derives from the word “yuj”, meaning “to unite.” This practice was developed by sages and seers. Yoga has also been documented in the Upanishads, a huge treatise comprising over two hundred scriptures. From Karma yoga to Bhakti, Jnana and Raja yoga, various forms evolved as human wisdom grew. Yogis teach expansion of the consciousness through the practice of asanas, dhyana or meditation and eventually the super conscious state of samadhi.
Yoga Sutras, Hatha Yoga, And Buddhism
Yoga sutras by Patanjali was the first systematic presentation of yoga, advocating the eight-limbed path for the avid practitioner. Hatha yoga followed with radical methods to rid the body of toxins and cleanse the spirit and mind.
Tracing back to yoga’s roots, yoga is believed to be closely related to Buddhism and Hinduism. Buddhism includes some specific yogic postures and meditation while the “Bhagavad Gita”, one of the oldest scriptures, found around 500 B.C, mentioned yoga’s existence even before it was written.
Bhakti And Tantra Yoga
Bhakti yoga was a spiritual pathway of deep faith and belief that gained popularity during the time period 500-1500 AD.
Around the fifth century, Tantra yoga emerged with mentions in Jain, Buddhist, and Hindu treatises.
During this time, yoga’s primary focus was to teach yogis not to pull away from the reality of the world, but to instead accept the real world and include yoga in it. .
Yoga has emerged in recent times as a means of combating disease, improving health and removing the stress and tension of modern life. From hot yoga to Lyengar Yoga, Ashtanga yoga, and Power Yoga, many different forms abound, depending on the needs, requirements and motivations of the yoga practitioner.
The traces of it in the west were found during 1800 BCE when yoga practitioners had begun travelling to the west. In 1930, it began spreading more in the west due to its healthy, Satvic beliefs. It has always been characterized as an eastern philosophy.
It has emerged as an ancient art that uses scientific principles to create balance in the body and energy in the mind. This is the essence of yoga practice. It is the path to light (truth) and the evolution of the soul in its journey towards the Divine.
The infographic below illustrates the evolution of yoga, through the efforts of various prominent yoga gurus, from the years of its origin to the present time.
Image credit: http://yogawithsapna.com/history-of-yoga-infographic/
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