The History of Yoga

What is Yoga?

Today, many people are taking up yoga techniques for physical exercise, and most don’t know the history of yoga. They believe there is nothing wrong with implementing this form of exercise into their daily regiment to promote a more healthy body.

Yoga is derived from a Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ which loosely means ‘union.’ It is a path through which an individual unites with the entire existence. Sounds heavy, right? It basically means how you are not a separate entity but part of a greater energy. It increases your consciousness and makes you realize your true self-clearing the clutter of all that you imbibed as part of your culture, family, and education. It makes you realize that there is something more than what you see around. It is a deeply spiritual practice that is part philosophy, religion, science, and exercise.

However, the practice of yoga is much more than a system of physical exercise for health. Yoga is an ancient path to spiritual growth, and originated from India where Hinduism is practiced. The practice and goal of yoga dates back to the Upanishads, written between 1000-5000 BC.

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Is it spiritual?

The history of yoga is based in the Indus Valley civilization. The techniques are practiced by the Indus to initiate spiritual growth. The yogis encourage union with the finite jiva (transitory self) and with the infinite Brahman (eternal self). Brahman is a term used by the Hindus to mean “God.” So, what are we supposed to unite with? Yogis usually think of God as an impersonal, spiritual substance, coexisting with all of reality. This doctrine is called pantheism which is the view that everything is God.

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Since it is taught by the yogis that everything is God, it then stands to reason, man is God. Yoga views man’s problem primarily in terms of ignorance. Man simply does not understand he is God so the solution is enlightenment, or an experience of union with God.

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courtesy: yogapoint.com

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courtesy: yogapoint.com

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Is yoga safe?

Can the methods used in the yoga techniques for exercising be separated from the philosophy? The answer is a distinctive “no” because yoga is considered to be a practice of psychosomatic exercises. There is no way to separate the two. The yoga scholar will tell you that in order to practice yoga in the fullest, one must experience what is called the “kundalini” effect within meditation.  

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What does this mean? For spiritual lessons to be grasped by the soul within the person, the chakra, or different locations within the body where a circle of metaphysical and/or biophysical energy resides, join together in the process. “Kundilini” stimulates the chakra center to open and release the energy held within. 

By researching the history of yoga, we learn that it is safe spiritually when practiced under the guidance of a teacher. Yoga teaches us to focus on ourselves instead of on the one true God.