Origins of Yoga

Yoga is an ancient art of physical and spiritual well being that originated in India. Even today in India it is a vibrant living tradition, it is also seen as a means to attain enlightenment. In other parts of the world especially the west, where yoga is popular it is seen as a fitness exercise. Throughout the world yoga has influenced other religious and spiritual practices but it is seen as an ultimate way of attaining enlightenment in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism.History of Yoga researchers have established the timeline of the sculptures of the meditating yogi from the Indus Valley Civilization to be around 6 to 7 thousand years old.

The ancient Hindu scripture Rig Veda contains the earliest written account about yoga. As it was maintained and communicated orally for almost a millennium before it was penned down between 1500 and 1200 B.C.

, it is very difficult to point out the exact timeline. Patanjali (first yoga text) dated around 2nd century BC, preaches about adherence to "eight limbs" to provide harmony to one's mind.The Upanisads thought to have been written between the eight and fourth centuries B.

C provides the earliest complete narrative of the principles and goals of yoga. Since Upanishads constitute the end of Spiritual wisdom they are also called as Vedanta. In the Vedantas, the practice of sacrificing animals and conducting ceremonies in order to appease the gods was replaced by the understanding that man can achieve union with God by the means of inner sacrifice. The inner sacrifice meant leading a life of restraint, moral culture and training of the mind.Yoga is loosely translated as "ordinary being achieving union with the Supreme Being". The follower of yoga is called a yogi.

The practitioners who have made considerable progress in yoga are called "yogin (male)" or yogini (female)".There are many types of yoga, but basis of most of the forms is concentration (dharana) and meditation (dhyana). The yoga text describes them as being interconnected; continuous single pointed concentration gradually leads to meditation, through which one's inner self expands and merges with something vast.The tradition of yoga incorporates the beliefs and techniques of yoga with the practical experience. Many gurus have written on the subject, shedding meaning onto the ancient yoga texts. Also a guru can open an institution of yoga through which he can teach yoga the way he wants it.

Many artists have derived their inspirations for art, poetry, dance and music from yoga. The students who become associated with a particular yogic institution follow common practices, such as the mantras (chants) and studying sacred texts. The difference between the various schools teaching yoga may always be the way of approach to the various types of yoga.The yogic gurus sometimes have been portrayed as going beyond every day way of life in a rule bound society, which does not mean that they act in an unethical fashion but will act to a certain extent with a direct knowledge of ultimate truth.Some of the notable yogis are Swami Vivekananda, Swami Sivananda, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.

.Michael Russell.Your Independent guide to Yoga.

By: Michael Russell

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