A Brief History of Yoga

Yoga is not simply a form of physical exercise, like calisthenics or aerobics. While it is certainly a great physical outlet, this is not the true purpose and technique of yoga. In many ways the physical aspect is just the point of contact. Beyond its physical aspect, lies the vast science of yoga. Its truths are based on the experiences and experiments of an unbroken line of mystics, occultists, saints and sages. Comprehensive in nature and profound in its doctrines, yoga does not fit neatly into the framework of any particular ancient or modern philosophy. The following is by no means an exhaustive depiction of the history of yoga; that would literally be a lifelong work! We understand ourselves better in the moment, by placing history in context. That is what I offer you here. Let us begin!Hinduism, India’s most prevalent tradition, is best understood as a complex cultural process between spiritual and social life. It is said to have commenced with the Vedic civilization, possibly as early as 5000 BCE. Written in Sanskrit (the oldest spoken language) the Vedas are rich hymns that cover vast topics, such as mathematics, astronomy, astrology, human development and consciousness. It is believed that the Aryans composed the ancient Vedas. The essence of the Vedas (or “Vedanta”) is that Reality is non-dual. Vedic teachings merged with Hindu tradition, creating a philosophical system that applied to daily life. Both traditions acknowledge the existence of a transcendental Reality, and believe that our relationship with this Reality influences our spiritual and physical well-being.