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Evolution of Yoga
What is Yoga?
Concept of yoga
Evolution of Yoga
Complete picture of Yoga

Yoga was born in India centuries ago. Though the exact age of yoga is not known, it is believed to be predating Christianity and Buddhism. Yoga is said to be the oldest tradition of self-trancedence. The evolution of yoga is intimately associated with India's culture and its most important religious traditions. Though Yoga is originally an Indian concept, Western scholars have also contributed immensely in unraveling the theory of Yoga.

Today Yoga is identified with physical exercises, but Yoga was initially a system of esoteric knowledge. It was originally an oral tradition that was passed down in the form of verses, direct from the teacher or the guru to the disciple or the shishya.

The disciples were required to memorize the sacred teachings of the guru. This was the only way of preserving the insightful teachings and rituals of Yoga.

VedasPre Classical Yoga
Today these teachings are available to us in written and are easily accessible. The oldest collection of sacred knowledge dates back to 4000 and 2000 B.C. making Yoga about 4000 years old. This knowledge was first written in the sacred books called the Vedas, which consisted of 1028 hymns articulated by rishis having a sacred vision. Through the Vedas we get a sense of the early metaphysical ideas and rituals of ancient Yoga.

The Vedas were meant for ascetics who were pursuing their spiritual practices in solitude but for the common man, some sections of the Vedas were less appropriate.

A great sage named Vyasa, around the 14th century, categorized the Vedic hymns into the 4 Vedic texts we know today: Rig Veda ("Knowledge of Praise"), Yajur-Veda ("Knowledge of Sacrifice"), Sama-Veda ("Knowledge of Chants"), and Atharva-Veda ("Knowledge of Atharvan"). In 1200 B.C., the great-enlightened teacher Rishabha started the tradition known as Jainism, which is also dedicated to the liberation of the spirit. Then in 1000 B.C., a second urbanization began along the banks of the Ganges River (the former Indus-Sarasvati civilization). Later, in the sixth century B.C., Lord Buddha spread the teaching of Buddhism, which stresses the importance of meditation and ethics over physical postures. Buddhism had some similarities with Hinduism; however, Yoga sages saw the limitations of ignoring the physical purification process. Siddhartha Gautama, who was skilled in Meditation and also the first Buddhist who studied Yoga, attained enlightenment at the age of 35.

The Bhagvad-Gita is considered as the oldest compilation of Yoga work. This ancient text was written about 500 B.C. and is the first scripture devoted entirely to Yoga. The Bhagavad-Gita confirms that Yoga was quite ancient by the time of its writing. Only 700 verses long, The Bhagvad Gita, presents Yoga through a dialogue between Lord Krishna and warrior prince Arjuna. It is one of the most readable Yoga texts.

The Gita's message is to oppose evil in the world. The Gita earned its relevance because of its attempt to blend Jnana-Yoga, Bhakati-Yoga and Karma-Yoga together unifying these various Yogic traditions. Many schools during this era taught ways of reaching deep levels of Meditation in order to surpass the mind and body system to achieve one's true, limitless self.

All of these texts emerged in what is called the Pre-classical period of Yoga.


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