Yoga History 101

Yoga History 101

When you practice yoga,​ it​ is,​ of​ course,​ not necessary to​ have a​ full understanding of​ yoga history in​ order to​ fully benefit from your practice. a​ brief understanding of​ the​ history behind yoga,​ however,​ may increase your spiritual practice and inspire you to​ find out more about the​ tradition behind the​ discipline.

The first writings about yoga were written in​ Sanskrit in​ early religious manuscripts in​ India called the​ Vedas. the​ word ‘yoga’ has many meanings. the​ root of​ the​ word is​ ‘yug’ which means ‘to hitch up’,​ referring to​ fastening horse bridles to​ a​ carriage. But yoga also means ‘to actively put to​ use’ or​ ‘yoke’ or​ ‘join’. Today,​ it​ is​ agreed upon that yoga is​ a​ method of​ joining or​ a​ discipline. Men who practice yoga are called yogi or​ yogin and women who practice yoga are called yogini.

Yoga was first passed from generation to​ generation by word of​ mouth. it​ wasn’t until about 2000 years ago when an​ Indian named Patanjali wrote ‘The Yoga Sutra’ that the​ philosophy of​ yoga was committed to​ paper. Yoga is​ not just about stretching and breathing and holding poses. Yoga is​ a​ philosophy on​ how to​ live life and deal with the​ challenges that human beings face daily. the​ Yoga Sutra defined this philosophy in​ 195 statements.

Sutra can be defined as​ ‘thread’ or​ ‘aphorism’,​ which means ‘a short declaration of​ truth’. it​ also means ‘the concentration of​ a​ large quantity of​ information into a​ simple definition’. it​ is​ a​ way of​ looking at​ truths that apply to​ everyone despite culture in​ the​ clearest way possible.

Hatha yoga,​ or​ the​ yoga that you do when you take a​ yoga class or​ perform yogic poses,​ was begun as​ a​ physical form of​ meditation. the​ physical act of​ yoga calms your body and allows your mind to​ become calm. it​ also gives you the​ physical strength to​ sustain long periods of​ meditation.

When you perform the​ physical practice of​ yoga,​ you are only engaging in​ half of​ the​ discipline as​ it​ has been practiced for thousands of​ years. Yoga is​ an​ incredible form of​ exercise and calming for the​ body,​ but it​ can also be used as​ a​ spiritual practice and a​ way to​ calm the​ mind and will as​ well.

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