Here we will learn more about the history of yoga.
Yoga has become quite fashionable these days, as practitioners in their yoga pants and mat, head to popular yoga studios to attend their weekly yoga session.
What many of these trendy yogis are probably unaware of is the long history of yoga dating back to ancient times in India and its spiritual roots.
For most of us who consider yoga, it goes back 150 years.
While people today practice yoga for their health, its roots are intertwined in a rich spiritualism that took a lifetime to master.
For the ancient yogis, yoga was a way of life.
Mention of yoga first appeared around 1500 B.C. in Hindu literature.
Early writings, in traditional Sanskrit, the term yoga, meaning yoke, often refers to a dying warrior ascending to heaven and attaining a higher power.
The original concept of yoga was clearly to elevate those who deserved it to a higher level, to connect the individual with the universe as a whole.
For the ancient Buddhists, yoga was not even a specific discipline.
It arose from the desire to achieve spiritual goals and to control both mind and body to do so.
These spiritual leaders recognized that man is fallible, but always capable of improvement by changing dysfunctional thinking.
They recognized the power of the mind to achieve inner peace and alleviate suffering by expanding individual awareness and opening to new ideas.
They already understood the basic concepts of the body/mind connection.
Yoga, including meditation, was and remains a quest for knowledge.
Ancient practitioners thought, correctly, that knowledge would lead to a higher level of consciousness and existence.
Ancient writings describe various levels of being, with increasing knowledge leading the practitioner to the next, higher level.
It was considered a process that for many encompassed a lifetime of learning.
Yoga, the physical part of attaining enlightenment, was to prepare the way to meditation, which was spiritual in nature. The physical side of yoga began to emerge around 500 AD.
By the third century, yoga was an accepted Buddhist practice that involved a spiritual quest through meditation.
This is the classical period, where the writings of Vyasa introduced the all-important Yoga Sutras, which list yoga as a precondition for a higher existence.
Over several centuries, the practice of yoga became an accepted practice for achieving important personal values, although it was still far from today’s set of poses.
More meditative, it was intended to help “transcend” human suffering and overcome it. It was also used to broaden or deepen consciousness as a path to personal enlightenment.
Yoga was seen as a means to overcome fate and regain control of the self.
The beginning of training and controlling the mind is clearly emerging.
Until the 15th century, while the West was in a state of constant strife and war, Eastern Buddhism focused on peace of mind.
The difference between a Western and Eastern mindset is becoming more and more noticeable.
At this time, the emphasis of yoga shifts from transcending pain to reaching a higher plane of existence.
Man himself will become a deity. In the 8th century, hatha yoga, a mixture of poses and meditation, was put into practice.
It is the beginning of “modern” yoga as we know it today.
Modern yoga Yoga, the ancient spiritual quest of Buddhism, did not reach the West until the 19th century.
This coincided with an interest in Indian culture as a whole due to the burgeoning spice trade.
Western culture was intrigued by the writings of Swami Vivekananda, a monk who traveled to Europe and introduced the intelligentsia to Buddhist spiritual writings, especially the 4th century Yoga Sutras, which involve clearing the mind of unwanted thoughts and learning to concentrate on one thing.
Yoga, as we know it today, became popular in the United States in the 1940s, when young Americans began taking yoga classes.
In the 1980s, the well-known health benefits of yoga increased its popularity, although most practitioners considered the practice to be more physical than spiritual.
In the 21st century, U.S. yoga devotees have grown from 5 million at the turn of the century to 20 million by 2021
This rise in popularity is primarily due to the increase in scientific studies on the numerous benefits of yoga, especially stress relief. Whether spiritual or not, people want to improve their health.