The Pandemic has surrounded the human routine with immense uncertainty and profound anxiety. People are trying to figure out numerous ways to get rid of them. Out of the many ways, yoga is one common mantra to heal the physical and mental problems humans’ battle with. Despite this popular and unified opinion, yoga often rings a bell to the twisting and turning yoga asanas that seem impossible for many. The asanas in yoga might seem quite tricky for everyone who watches the experts doing those yoga poses effortlessly. But, what many of us fail to recognize is its evolution and the ancient science beneath it that made yoga the most practiced form of art today.
Yoga as a practice is millennia old. No wonder that many people around the world start and end their day with yoga poses. Before diving deep into the roots of yoga and yoga asanas, let us first understand the meaning of yoga.
The term yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word Yuj which means ‘to unite’ or ‘to join’. The union here doesn’t mean physical parts staying connected. Although it might seem to be the eternal meaning, the true essence of yoga is to maintain the internal connection between the human body and soul.
Yoga is the positive integrity you maintain with every being in nature. Yoga is the relation that every human has with the universe. In short, yoga is the way of living a conscious life. Every yoga pose or asana is associated with healing the mental and physical problems related to human wellbeing. We often refer to Lord Shiva as the Adi Yogi who distributed this divine art to seven ancient men known as the Saptarishis. These Saptarishis later circulated the yoga knowledge they had attained in seven different directions covering diverse regions in the universe.
Feels incredible to learn that all the yoga training we are taking regularly is an age-old practice? Now that we have known how yoga practice came into existence, let us move into the details of yoga and its evolution. The rich heritage of yoga evolution can be unfolded into five crucial periods.
Table of Contents
Pre-Vedic and Vedic Yoga
The Pre – Vedic and Vedic have the earliest forms of yoga asanas and poses. This period dates back to the Rig Vedic period (1500 BC and 1000 BC). While it is difficult to predict the exact dates of Yoga practices during this period, archaeologists detected the fossil shreds of evidence of Yoga Sadhanas.
Pre- Classical Yoga
This yogic period came into existence with Upanishads which revealed the internal connection between the human mind and spirits with personal yoga training. Out of the 108 Upanishads, 20 talk about different yogic techniques, like pranayama (breathing exercise) and pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), breathing exercises, sound, and meditation. They unravel the true potential of meditation as the way to achieve the ultimate enlightenment of human life.
The classical yogic period was well demonstrated by Patanjali Yogic techniques, the first-ever organized representation of yoga asanas. This period is believed to have existed somewhere in the second century BC. Patanjali Yoga is also called Raja Yoga which is formulated into the eight limbs of yoga, yamas, niyamas, asanas, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyan, and samadhi.
Patanjali is considered the father of Yoga, and his practices were later used in the martial arts. Many yoga poses in modern times also refer to classical yoga.
Post- Classical Yoga
Many great sages and philosophers like Adi Shankaracharya, Tulsidasa and Purandaradasa contributed to the development and continuation of Raja yoga in the post-classical period. He worked on yogic rituals, like Jnana Yoga, Hatha Yoga. These rituals grant liberal freedom to humans.
Modern Period (1700 AD to 1900 AD)
Swami Vivekananda largely drove and influenced the modern yoga period. He spread the yogic culture to western countries with his powerful elocutions and vocal abilities.
Indians widely practised yoga poses in India during the 1920s and 1930s because of the rigorous efforts of T. Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda.
They opened two Hatha Yoga schools established in Mysore and the holy Ganges River.
Later, they handed over the legacy to three of their students, B.K.S. Iyengar, T.K.V. Desikachar and Pattabhi Jois.
Today, as yoga evolved and made its way into the modern period , so did the human race. In refining it to resolve the physical and mental problems, we limited yoga to flexibility and fitness.
Gone are the days when people sat on the ground to have food; we now separately call it popularly the padmasana. It is good to practice yoga asanas /yoga poses. It is great that we have integrated yoga practice with modern technologies and gadgets to get guidance from the experts, but isolating yoga to asanas or poses is depriving its genuine nature. We should acknowledge that yoga is the way to attain ultimate liberation from all the negative thoughts we experience in times of trouble. Only then we can achieve complete control of our body, mind, spirit, and even your destiny.
This is how yoga has evolved from ancient routes to modern gadgets — All these great sages across the globe presented the art of living- yoga poses, asanas and yoga training to us. Yoga is just not a practice that gives us flexibility or improves physical strength. It is a habit that paves the path to the ultimate enlightenment of life. To experience the true power of your inner peace, try visiting a yoga training centre or downloading an online yoga app that can teach you all yoga exercises with no complications.
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