The History and Philosophy of Yoga: Understanding the Origins and Evolution of a Timeless Practice
Whether or not you are a fitness freak or health enthusiast, you must be aware of yoga. Yes! The discipline that has developed into one of the most popular forms of exercise in the world. Today, it is revered and practised by millions worldwide due to its holistic healing powers. With the help of yoga, one can not only lead a healthy and balanced life but can also fuel their spirits and connect to spirituality quite easily. It is because yoga helps you understand your mind, body, and soul, which in turn, keeps a tab on your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. No wonder it has become a global phenomenon today and is known to improve strength and flexibility.
But did you know how yoga reached across continents whispering its ancient tales of mysticism? If not, here are we sharing insights into the history and evolution of yoga. Let’s understand where yoga originated, how it manoeuvred its way through centuries, the significance of yoga philosophy, and a lot more to get you acquainted with its fundamentals.
A Brief History of Yoga
Yoga is popularly known as a set of mental, physical, and spiritual practices that helps you keep your mind, body, and soul in equilibrium. However, it is often perceived as just a form of exercise in the West. Yoga is rooted in Indian traditions and lifestyle as it originated in India about 5000 years ago. It is mentioned in several ancient Indian texts such as the Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which were composed during the Vedic period. These scriptures also form a significant part of Yoga Philosophy. You can also find the practice of meditation and breath control in several hymns and rituals of the Vedas.
These were the days when yoga was a way of life and a significant part of daily routine in Indian culture. That’s the reason yoga in India was nurtured in its true form. Therefore, it is here you would find the oldest yoga schools where you can gain authentic yoga learning experience under the guidance of world-renowned and highly qualified yoga gurus and teachers.
Over centuries, Yoga was nurtured into a systematic practice where people started focusing on asanas, meditation, pranayama, and other activities. Gradually, different styles of yoga such as Hatha Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga emerged with different schools and thoughts. In subsequent years, especially since the 20th century, yoga became a rage and was popularised across every corner of the country.
How Yoga Become Popular Worldwide
Though for more than 3000 years yoga remained an Indian entity, it gradually started seeping into the global culture in the late 19th century. By the early 20th century when the actual globalisation of yoga occurred, yoga crossed the boundaries of India and was introduced to the world. It happened on account of several Indian yoga and spiritual leaders like Swami Vivekananda who travelled to different parts of the world and imparted the greatness of yoga and Indian culture.
These teachers provided the global audience with lectures on various yogic texts. These teachings helped in the formation of the modern yoga movement in the world. Today, yoga is propagated by several modern yoga gurus like Jaggi Vasudev who deal with new-age audiences and let them understand the magical practice of yoga and how it can change the way we live.
Globalisation of yoga has also been facilitated by technological advancements in transportation and communication. Today, you can talk to the entire world sitting in any corner of the world and preach on yogic values. And when you have such convenience, it becomes easy to pass on knowledge and traditions. Consequently, yoga became a global phenomenon with millions of people around the world embracing its transformative power.
What is Yoga Philosophy All About?
Yoga nurtures itself on a simple philosophy of life which says - Your mind, body, and soul are one and should be in a state of quintessential peace and tranquillity. That’s the reason all yogic schools and thoughts always look forward to preaching the importance of equilibrium and balance in life. As per the philosophy of yoga, you should continuously strive to maintain and improve your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
However, there is a lot more to yoga philosophy than just these profound thoughts and sayings. It also encompasses practices and techniques that aim at keeping you healthy and happy forever. In addition to the physical and spiritual practices of yoga, the philosophy also emphasises the importance of ethical behaviour including non-violence (ahimsa), truthfulness (satya), and self-discipline (tapas).
These complex ideas, thoughts, and practises are taken from ancient Hindu texts such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Other significant texts that are a part of yoga philosophy learning include the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Benefits Of Yoga
Now that you are aware of the basics of Yoga history, its evolution, and yoga philosophy, let’s understand its prominent benefits. These benefits would share an insight into why yoga has been successfully transforming people around the world for decades and centuries. Apart from providing you with balance, strength, and flexibility, yoga:
- Helps in reducing stress and anxiety with the help of deep breathing, meditation, and relaxation techniques
- Fights with chronic illness and several disorders such as asthma, depression, etc.
- Enhance metabolism and improves your sleep pattern
- Provides relaxation to your body by relieving pain in joints, back, and other parts of the body
- Strengthens your immune system and reduces inflammation with the help of certain yoga poses and breathing exercises
- Helps in overall personality development by building confidence in life
- Encourages mindfulness and present moment awareness which can help you reduce distractions and increase focus and productivity
- Lowers blood pressure and helps in weight management with the help of a balanced yogic diet