A Brief History of Yoga

A Brief History of Yoga
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Some, including the Hindu American Foundation HAF , have criticized what they view as the Americanization and commercialization of an ancient Indian and Hindu yoga tradition, launching accusations of cultural and religious appropriation, and even a campaign to " take back yoga. Such complaints are similar to the legal suit launched by evangelical Christian parents in Encinitas, California.

Here, the author warns that excessive "Sun Salutations" are actually harmful to the body, and that for the novice, should be avoided along with bad company, fire, members of the opposite sex, long journeys, and other physical hardships Jyotsna on HP 1. According to Seth, this is just one example of a disjunction between contemporary narratives regarding the authenticity of yoga praxis, and the historical evidence of the Indic traditions.

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When it comes to the history of yoga, we find at apposing ends, two historical positions commonly held today. The first, is that yoga is a 5, year-old, timeless, monolithic tradition, revealed by ancient Vedic sages, espoused by many contemporary yoga gurus and practitioners, both in the west and India. The second, held by some scholars and authors, is that yoga i.

According to Seth, neither of these "yoga positions" hold against the current historical evidence we now have, and that the truth likely falls somewhere in between. It was during this time that Raja yoga and the eight limbs became an essential part of yoga.

The History Of Yoga

Interestingly, during the period of Classical Yoga, the body as a temple was frequently disregarded in yogic practice. Ultimately, however, the Asanas would be rekindled. After a few centuries, yogis began to once again embrace both the mental and physical aspects of yoga.

Post-Classical Yoga Following the Classical era yoga makes a rather sudden shift. It is during this post 18th century period that yoga is introduced into the Western world. During this period, thanks in part to new technology, literature on yoga begins to proliferate throughout both eastern and western cultures.

It is also during this period that yogic practice embraces a notable change and begins to focus on living in the moment rather than liberating oneself from reality. The yoga that most people practice today is a hybridization of these various forms of yoga that have developed over the ages.


Whether engaging in Vedic Yoga of old or the Transcendental Meditation more recently popularized, yoga offers millions of people the opportunity to strengthen both body and mind. Recommended Further Reading. From the foremost living authority on Yoga comes the most comprehensive and reliable treatment of the subject available today. We can try to delineate the history of yoga — at least a brief one. But a practice so rich in religious, spiritual, and physical meaning would take years or even a lifetime to fully understand, grasp, and manifest.

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They date from the Vedic period, which began in BCE. Interestingly, in some of these very early writings, yoga was used to describe a warrior dying and transcending into heaven, being carried by his chariot to reach the gods and higher powers of being.

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For a while, yoga was a loose notion, its meaning difficult to pin down. It was more of a notion of meditation and a religious practice than it was exercise as we know today.

History of Yoga

But around the 5th century, it became more of an established core idea among Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. First and foremost, these ancient versions of yoga were mostly spiritual practices, revolving around several core values. The second aimed to uplift or broaden consciousness, and the third involved using yoga as a path to transcendence. The fourth was using yoga to enter other bodies and act supernaturally — perhaps the strangest and most mystical one.

Yogi practice, meanwhile, lies more in the supernatural — i. A yogi seated in a garden, North Indian or Deccani miniature painting, c.