The history of yoga is believed to be as old as civilization. The prehistoric roots and its gradual evolution and development are testimony to this fact. Ancient yoga derived from Indian asceticism to uniting in the cosmic one. Yoga history could be traced in the Upanishads, Vedas and even in Brahmanas. The yoga history was also illustrated in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
How yoga derived its name?
The history of yoga is recorded in our scriptures and it’s continuously evolving in recent times. Though yoga has evolved with changes in techniques and methods but the essence and goal remains the same. The word yoga derived from Sanskrit word Yuj , meaning to unite .
History of yoga in Indus valley civilization-
The archeological excavations of ancient civilization shows that even before 3000 BC yoga had evolved. The artifacts and the Yogi glyptic are testimony to the fact. The various yoga postured relic’s depicts, some of the noteworthy yoga postures in them.
History of yoga in Vedic period
With evolution of Vedas the foundation of Hinduism was laid. The Vedas hold the ancient yogic teachings and hence is known as Vedic yoga. While some vague references of history of yoga could be found in the Vedas but practices could be found in the Brahmanas. The Rig Veda mentions yoga’s practice as yoga was essential with Vedic ritual. This dates back to 900 BC.
History of yoga in the Upanishads-
This period is also knows as pre-classical yoga period. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad makes the reference of yoga meditation and is clearly reflected in 900 BC to 400 BC. The Mahabharata and the Bhagavad-Gita (oldest Yoga scripture) shows the yoga history in 500 BC and 200 BC resp. Even in Buddhism, the importance of yoga meditation and various yoga postures have been mentioned.
History of yoga in the Patanjali Yoga Sutra’s –
This period is also known as the Classical period of yoga. The main attempt of Patanjali was to define and normalize classical yoga form and is known as Patanjali eight fold path of yoga (Eight Limbs of Classical Yoga).
Post classical yoga-
Numerous sovereign yoga schools were developed during this period after the Yoga sutra period, hence the name Post classical yoga. The human body became filed of study along with the meditation which was missing is the previous years. A new system with numerous yoga exercises was developed. And thus Hatha yoga, Raj yoga and other branches emerged.
Modern yoga and its history-
The Chicago summit and the famous lecture of Swami Vivekananda became a turning point with the introduction of Yoga to the Western world. Thus various yoga schools emerged and more and more people learnt this yogic form of exercise.
Yoga today in modern world-
Yoga has gained immense popularity in recent years. Yoga has become a health movement. The westerner’s views and spirituality has changed a lot. Yoga’s has become a mandatory fitness regime. Yoga has evolved into more modern form like power yoga or Zen yoga.
Yoga has revealed through its long history. The vast oceans of Yogic literature and the motivation and drive makes all follow the true Yogic path.