history of yoga

The History Of Yoga And Its Journey To The Western World 2020

The History of Yoga

It is unknown exactly how long yoga has been in practice, but scholars have estimated it was created between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago in Northern India. It was first mentioned in the Rigveda, a religious Hindu text within the Vedas, containing cosmology, philosophy, the origin of deities, yoga, and more. It was primarily used by the priests, called Brahmans.

As time went on, the history of yoga transformed into not just a practice, but a lifestyle. The mystic seers, called the Brahmans and Rishis, documented all of their practices and beliefs in the Upanishads, which is a part of the Vedas.

Looking at the history of yoga it continued on to be mainly an oral tradition, practiced by yogis all over the Middle East and throughout Asia. The oldest specific philosophical text is the Yoga Sutra, a 2,000-year-old guidebook which has paved the way for modern-day practice.

It contains 195 statements about what it is to be human and how to cope with humanity as a whole. Yoga Sutra gives the reader guidance on how to master controlling one’s own mind and emotions so he or she can be fully self-actualized.

Early in the history of yoga before the full practice was created, there was meditation. People were meditating, but had no understanding of connecting the body to the mind during meditation. That is when hathayoga was created, which was a way for humans to meditate while doing something with their bodies, connecting their physical abilities with their mental mantras.

This type of practice was intended to prepare the mind for complete and utter stillness during deep meditation, all while remaining calm and relaxed. Hathayoga is still in practice today and remains one of the most recommended methods for enlightenment.

yoga terms and yoga words

History of yoga

The most prolific era in the history of yoga is the Classical Era, ranging from approximately 500 BC to 800 AD. This is when it was becoming fully developed and spread to the rest of the Eastern world for general practice. Commentaries on the old philosophical texts were being made, which was a new literary form for this era.

Famous religious teachers came into light, including Mahavir and Buddha, who both practiced yoga and taught its philosophies to their followers. Mahavir was known for the Five Great Vows, including non-violence, truth, non-stealing, celibacy, and non-attachment.

He used these, along with his practice, to become as self-actualized as he felt like he could, and this created the religion of Jainism. Buddha, a well-known philosopher and creator of Buddhism, constructed the Eightfold Path, consisting of eight practices including: right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right samadhi (meditative absorption).

These two religious leaders made yoga more mainstream and accessible to everyone, as they gave their own perspectives on what it is and how to incorporate it into one’s own religious and spiritual practices, whether one follows them or not.

History Of Yoga

History of yoga.The Post-Classical period was from 800 AD to 1700 AD. Hathayoga was still flourishing and the teachings of Suradasa, Purandardasa, Mirabai, and Tulasidasa were prominent throughout this time period. Yogis were taught to live in the present and welcome the reality one finds themselves in, and this ideology caused it to spread to the Western World around the 1800s.

The modern-period era went from 1700 AD to 1900 AD, producing some of the most influential yogis who contributed to the creation of Rajayoga. This is supposed to be the highest state of practice to exist and requires a variety of steps to achieve. Hathayoga, previously mentioned, is one of the gateways to getting to Rajayoga and requires time, energy, perseverance, and dedication.

History of yoga

History of yoga.The contemporary era, or today’s practice, is more geared towards health, fitness, and wellbeing rather than self-actualization and meditation. While many, like the Buddhists, still practice the spiritual aspect, the mainstream use is to work out and work on balance, flexibility, and stamina.

It has been known to relax the mind and calm oneself, but today’s practice focuses much more on one’s physical capabilities. Modern-day, Westernized practice looks at breathing techniques and body positions, making sure they are all accurate, but where is the depth?

The ability to look past the first layer of the practice and dive into the path to enlightenment has been lost in the Western world. Fitness is the new focus, and this could be due to the way this side of the globe looks at health.

In the history of yoga ancient scriptures are not used nearly as much as they used to be; instead, instructors will guide the class through various exercises, geared towards gaining flexibility as well as muscle mass.

It is easy to incorporate these philosophic tools, like scriptures, into one’s yoga regimen, but it takes time and effort, all while still practicing every day. It is now posture-based fitness, ideal for those wanting to train to control their body, mind, and spirit so it is used to the fullest.

Balance Yoga

History of yoga

Many classes today offer a variety of subjects, from poses to posture to breath control. They require a mat and sometimes a workout block and the classes generally last between an hour to an hour and a half, much different than the yogis’ all day meditation sessions!

The practice has changed throughout the history of yoga over the course of the last few decades, and continues to evolve. One day, yoga could be taught in schools and our children will learn the ancient philosophies which have gotten us to this point of self-actualization.

In the history of Yoga it has been shown to be great for not only the mind and body, but for the soul, too. It helps one create intentions which were not there before, all while opening up the chakras which direct the flow of energy throughout the body, creating balance.

Balance, whether it be physical or mental, is vital for effective practice and wellbeing and is one of the most important virtues in philosophy. It helps one breathe in positive energy and exhale negative energy, creating stability for one to lean on in times of need.

Yoga is not just a practice, it is a way of generating lively spirit which is happy and fulfilled. Since the history of yoga is long and complex, we have lost some of the ways of the ancient practice, but, many aspects have stayed for centuries and will continue to live on in the modern practice.

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