The history of yoga: development, milestones, trends and interesting facts

Millions of people around the world do yoga, performing various body poses on bright rugs. But most of them do not even suspect that initially a completely different meaning was invested in this science. Therefore, experienced gurus divide it into two sides of the same coin: this is what the majority is doing now, and Yoga with a capital letter is what is actually the essence of this teaching. This article briefly discusses the main stages in the history of the development of yoga and the trends of modern interpretation.

What is yoga?

According to researchers, the word "yoga" came from the word "yodge", which in ancient Sanskrit meant "connection in harness, connection." It was understood that this is the linking of the mind, body and consciousness into a single trinity, the echoes of which can be traced back to Christianity (although in a different presentation). In the history of yoga, yogaś — citta-vr̥tti-nirodhaḥ — was considered fundamental, which meant getting rid of the vibrations of the mind, that is, total self-control every second.

what is yoga

It is clear that physical exercises, postures and acrobatic studies have nothing to do with it. At the same time, it is clearly stated: yoga is not a religion, although it can be closely intertwined with it, because religion and spirituality are completely different concepts.

Who invented this system?

The history of the origin of yoga goes back to ancient times and there is no way to establish for certain who its ancestor was, as some historians believe that this science is more than 5 thousand years old!

yoga story of origin

Moreover, it is argued that the Indian Peninsula is in fact its historical homeland, although in almost every culture there are similar techniques for personal self-improvement at different levels of being. Naturally, such a global teaching is the work of more than one person. For centuries, it bit by bit absorbed the practical knowledge of hundreds of sages: Brahmins, yogis, enlightened gurus.

Bhagavad-gita speaks facts

The legend of yoga as a way to reunite with God is described in detail in the main book of Hinduism - the Bhagavad-gita. It tells us that Krishna (the incarnation of God in the human body) speaks with his friend, the powerful warrior Arjuna and gives him teachings in order to understand the god and reunite with him after the death of the physical body.

yoga legends

The chapters of the book very simply and clearly describe the three ways of yoga that a person can follow, developing - this is the yoga of action (Karma), service (Bhakti) and knowledge (Jnana). Everyone is free for himself to choose a direction similar in spirit, and having embarked on the path of self-improvement, one can’t turn off it already. At the same time, there is practically nothing there about exercises for the physical body, which suggests that postures are not the main thing in yoga practice.

The first mention of hatha yoga

At the heart of yoga, the source of the first texts on the effects on the mind is considered to be the "Yoga Sutras" of Patanjali, which in the second century BC. e. systematized all the centuries-old accumulated knowledge on this issue. But at the same time, there are no direct references to poses as an instrument of influence on the body in the treatise. A more significant work in this matter is Hatha Yoga Pradipika, written around the 14th century by Swami Swatmarama. It describes in detail many poses, their effects on the body and human consciousness.

yoga basics sources

At the same time, researchers believe that this work was created on the basis of earlier ancient texts that were the founders of hatha yoga (yoga for the body). Monumental treatises such as The Upanishads, Goraksha Paddhati, Yoga Martanda, and Siva Samhita are still the main sources of knowledge for practitioners who seek the essence, despite the fact that some of these works are about a thousand years old. !

The founder of modern yoga

In the history of yoga as a science of harmony between body and soul, Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888–1989), who was the mentor of the main outstanding teachers of the last century: Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois and Deshikachar, played a decisive role in our time. 85% of modern yoga is based on their methods, which later began to be modified by other followers.

basic yoga development story

Krishnamacharya developed the principle of vinyasa - smooth entry and exit into a pose that synchronizes with breathing, which is the basis of all yoga practice. He believed that anyone can learn this science and successfully proved it on his many students. Another feature of his teaching was the teaching method - an individual approach to each that Joyce subsequently used to establish the Mysore style of conducting a yoga lesson. The “father of the doctrine” lived for 101 years, until the last day maintaining clarity of mind, good spirits and good physical characteristics of the body.

Significant people in the development of yoga

If you single out the most authoritative names in the history of yoga since ancient times, then you can make this list:

  • Krishna (IV century BC. E.) - first brought to the world of people knowledge about enlightenment as a unity with the Absolute.
  • Patanjali (2nd century BC.) - The first who outlined the teachings of yoga on paper.
  • Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 BC) is the founder of Buddhism, a religion that is still the closest teaching on self-improvement. Therefore, Buddhism and yoga often go hand in hand.
  • Matsyendranath (XI century A.D.) is a saint, Guru, who became an accidental disciple of Shiva himself, who transferred the knowledge of yoga to his wife.
  • Gorakshanath was a student of Matsyendranath and wrote more than 20 (!) Important treatises on the teaching of yoga and its explanation.
  • Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836-1886) is an Indian guru whose teaching was aimed at merging with God. At the age of about 20, he comprehended this condition and became the founder of (presumably) Advaita - the doctrine of nonduality.
  • Swami Sivananda Saraswati (1886-1963) wrote about three hundred books on yoga, which seems unthinkable! His student, Vishnudevananda, became the founder of the Bihar Yoga School - the most significant in Asia.
  • Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888-1989), who became the founder of the modern interpretation of yoga and was engaged in its promotion in Europe and America.

The body as a tool for the development of consciousness

Based on the entire history of the emergence of yoga, the question arises: what then does the majority of yoga practitioners do, sweating heavily on rugs and spinning the body into unthinkable knots? What is the connection between merging with God and a foot laid behind an ear in a handstand? The answer lies in the famous statement of Pattabhi Jois, which became the slogan of Ashtanga Yoga: "Practice, and everything will come."

yoga background

Indeed, those who have been practicing yoga steadily for more than eight years, note that the classes have ceased to be athletic in nature, as it looks at first, and have transformed into spiritual practice (although nothing has changed from the outside). This confirms that different paths lead to spiritual transformation, union with God and the evolution of man as a whole, and the method of using the body as an instrument also has a result, although not as fast.

Modern trends in the world of yoga

Unfortunately, in our time, many yoga practices are limited only by the development of the body, trying to perform a difficult pose in order to prove to themselves and the world that they are eminent yogis. Social networks are full of various photos and videos, calls to attend a seminar, retreat or tour in warm countries.

In most cases, practice has become a business and there is no trace left of the simple necessity of merging with God (as was supposed at the origins of the history of yoga). Of course, there are people about whom the general public is little known. They prefer to humbly improve themselves, advancing on a spiritual level and not shout about their experience of enlightenment throughout the world.

yoga story of origin

Some interesting facts

Most inexperienced people believe that a yogi is necessarily a vegetarian who often walks on hot coals, broken glass, can sleep on nails and sings mantras for hours on end, wrapping himself in an orange robe. Given that now is the 21st century, such medieval stereotypes look ridiculous, but they are really widespread among the masses.

There is still a lot of discussion about the origin of yoga. Some interested researchers are not satisfied with the fact of the “Indian” place of origin of this teaching. Theories are put forward that in fact yoga first showed itself in the southern territory of Ukraine (the art of characterists), among the Maya Indians (later nationalities simply became confused: Indians are Indians), among Japanese ninja warriors, etc.

Yoga teachers claim that striking changes can be achieved in just six months, subject to 100% following their instructions. One thing: this is only available to units, as modern man is not ready to give up his usual way of life. Hence, many have the opinion that yoga "did not help them."

Sometimes the shocking flexibility is not really the goal, but a side effect of getting rid of the internal psychological clamps that fetter the human body in a shell. It follows: if you want to be flexible - stop worrying for any reason.


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