History of Yoga

History of yoga

Yoga comes from a wide and deep river of an ancient tradition. Its many currents flow form a complex history of spiritual exploration, philosophical reflection, scientific experimentation, and spontaneous creative expression. Arising from the diverse and evolving cultures of India, often moored to and conditioned by Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainsim, and other religions, the philosophies, teachings and practices of yoga are as richly varied as the innumerable tributaries of the vastness of yoga in all its manifestations.

What we know of the origins and development of yoga comes to us from a variety of sources, including ancient texts, oral transmission through certain yogic or spiritual lineages, iconography, dances and songs.

For over 5,000 yearsyoga has been passed down from teacher to student as an oral tradition and therefore the origins of yoga are difficult to pinpoint. When yoga first began it was probably simply yoga but with time it fragmented into 5 different schools each with its own system yet uniform in their goal of unity Karma Yoga, the way of selfless action, Bhakti Yoga, the way of selfless devotion, Hatha Yoga the way of energetic balancing, Jnana Yoga, the way of direct self-inquiry, Raja Yoga, the way of conscious being. (for more information refer to the chapter on Bhagavad Gita).
This course focuses on the practice of Hatha yoga as the basic training to balance the body and mind through postural and breathing practices and the study of Ashtanga yoga (the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga) as a means to connect to and express spirit through individual self-inquiry.
Its interesting to note that Iyengar, Phattabhi Jois and Desikachar all studied yoga with the same teacher Krishnamacharya yet went on to teach completely different styles of yoga (Iyengar, ashtanga vinyasa and vinni yoga respectively) this is a testament to a great teacher who was able to recognize and nurture the strengths, abilities and needs of his students so they practiced and later taught as unique individuals.

You may be interested in: What is Ashtanga Vinyasa and Vinyasa Flow or What is ‘Hot Yoga’ really?