The History Of Yoga – An Overview

The history of מורת יוגה can be traced back as far as 1500 BC to the Vedas. These are literary texts that lay down the framework of the Hindu religion and are divided into four main groups.

Patanjali is often considered as the father of yoga and his yoga-sutras still strongly influence all styles of modern yoga. In Patanjali, the art of yoga is divided into an “eight limbed path” that contain the steps to obtain the enlightenment. Patanjali is considered to be the father of yoga.

Hatha Yoga was then created because of this exploration on the physical-spiritual connections as well as body centered practices. Hatha yoga is one of the styles of yoga that the westerners of today are practicing. It is a very good style of yoga to start on the path of yoga. Hatha Yoga is perhaps about 1000 years old. Its purpose is also beyond the body, it too has a spiritual purpose.

Hatha Yoga masters also later utilized the yoga sutras for still meditation. Hatha yoga is only one of the two concepts of yoga that concentrates on the physical culture and the other yoga is the Raja yoga but both of these are referred to as Ashtanga yoga. The main difference is that the Raja yoga concentrates more on the “asanas” or postures to get the body ready for a prolonged meditation that concentrates mainly on the meditative “asana” poses. Hatha Yoga follows in that vein and thus successfully transcends being particularly grounded in one religion.

The hathayoga developed mostly during the period of 14th century. Hatha and tantra yoga , the major branches of yoga, were both developed in the Post-Classical Period, around 1000 CE. Tantra taught students how to cleanse the body, mind and spirit and to break the ties that bind us to any form of physical existence. Hatha yoga attempts to balance mind and body via physical exercises, or “asanas”, controlled breathing, and the calming of the mind through relaxation and meditation. Asanas teach poise, balance & strength and were originally (and still) practiced to improve the body’s physical health and clear the mind in preparation for meditation in the pursuit of enlightenment .

Yogis on the other hand focused almost exclusively on Meditation and neglected the Asanas. They were attempting to exit the mortal coil and merge with the ultimate reality through contemplation. Yogis usually think of God as an impersonal, spiritual substance, coexisting with all of reality. This doctrine is called pantheism which is the view that everything is God. Yogi Matsyendranath taught that before taking to the practices of meditation, the body and its elements need purifying. One of the most outstanding authorities on hatha yoga, Swami Swatmarama wrote the Hatha yoga pradipika, or ‘Light on yoga’ in Sanskrit, which describes the various Asanas and breathing exercises, which forms the foundation of the modern practice of yoga.

Yogic attitudes, simple Asanas, Pranayama, relaxation and health orientated techniques were systematically devised to help people solve the problems of daily living. Yogi is not a religious title. Most modern people associate the word “yoga” with Hatha yoga, in one of its many style variations.

Ashtanga, which means 8 limbs in Sanskrit, is a rhythmically fast, intense set of yoga practice always performed in the same order. Ashtanga Yoga is physically demanding and it is meant for people seeking body strength, flexibility and workout including challenging series of postures with Ujjayi Breathing and vinyasas. Ashtanga is the Sanskrit name for what is referred to as the eight fold path of yoga. Ashtanga Yoga is another type of yoga which is also known as ‘power yoga’. This type of yoga comprises push ups, which increases strength and stamina in human body.

Modern evolutionary approaches to yoga have created clear delineations between the Hindu religion and the practice of yoga. Modern yoga positions and principles have evolved from these earliest meditative practices and continue to be fused by modern practitioners.

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