History of Yoga

Yoga is a means to achieving the enjoining of individual self with the cosmic consciousness. It is believed that yoga evolved during the period of the `Sat Yuga' almost 26,000 years ago in India. During this golden age, the hermits and sages were in search of the eternal truth of life and death. This phase was filled with perpetual peace and blessings galore. Awareness of yoga spread after the discovery of Indus Valley civilization. Engravings of yogi-like figures were discovered through excavations. It was the Aryans migrating from north-west, who were responsible for the finding of yoga.

The origin of yoga goes back tom the Vedic period. The practice and history of yoga has evolved through various phases. During Vedic yoga, people believed in rituals, sacrifices and ceremonies which were considered as the means of getting connected to the spiritual world. Yoga was combined with hymns and prayers to reach illumination and this was imparted and performed by the Vedic yogis as they were trusted to have knowledge of the absolute truth. Their splendid insight was imparted through their hymns which were chanted reverently by the commoners. During the pre classical yoga, which covered a period of around 2,000 years until the second century, Lord Buddha studied yoga and laid stress on meditation and asanas. It was during the classical yoga that yoga sutras, which has 195 maxims, were composed by Patanjali,. He advocated that yoga would reinstate the individual spirit to its supreme reality. The eight-fold path came into existence during this period and the speech of yoga (Yoga Bhasya) was formed in the 5th century by Vyasa. Postclassical yoga saw the yogis trying to resolve the mysteries of human body to revive it and extend its life. Thus, `Hatha yoga' came into existence, which is currently practiced all throughout the world.

During the congress held in Chicago in 1893, Swami Vivekananda attracted many students to yoga and the teachings of Vedanta. Paramhansa Yogananda introduced yoga to the western world in Boston in 1920. He established the dictum of self realization and his teachings are called `yogoda' teachings. Paul Brunton and Jiddu Krishnamurthy impressed the westerners with their writings and thoughts on yoga. Osho, Ramana Maharishi, Maharishi Mahesh, Shrila Prabhupada Sathya Sai Baba and several other prominent personalities spread the eternal movement of yoga. In 1960s, transcendental meditation was introduced and yoga of devotion was taught. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON) was formed in 1965. Swami Sivananda opened yoga centers in Europe and America and wrote several books on yoga and Shri Krishnamacharya taught the `Viniyoga Hatha Yoga'.

The popular teachers of the 1970s and 1980s were Swami Satchitanandaa, Swami Sivananda Radha, Swami Satyananda and Swami Chidananda. The yoga journal contains all the details of the origin and history of yoga.