The History of Yoga: A Philosophical Journey over Two Millennium

May 1, 2018

When you hear yoga described as an ancient art, it is no exaggeration. The first mentions of yoga were way back around 500 BC. That is more than 2,500 years ago, which is a staggering amount of time. Over this time, yoga has changed a lot. It has been refined and repurposed over the years, to become what you are familiar with today.

The Beginning

Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism were the main groups that had texts that described early yoga practices. At this point in time, yoga was mostly a philosophy practice, and it was divided into two bodies of thought. There was yoga that believed in a personal god and an atheist yoga. After that distinction, there was very little distinction between them. Both of these schools of yoga were heavily used to find oneself, and to modify a person’s consciousness. People practice yoga during that time to find inner peace, build mental discipline, and solve the nature of the world. It was very spiritual and introspective.

The Middle Ages

Between 500 and 1500 AD, many different types of yoga emerged. This fractioned yoga into a number of different types of practices. Hatha yoga began in this era, centered in Buddhist texts. Hatha was where the now popular full body poses originated. Bhakti was developed over this time period as well. It was a Hindu concept, and it focused on the idea of having a personal deity. Yoga was popular through a number of different regions during this time. The regions would adapt their yoga practice to fit with the spirituality, philosophy, and traditions of the area. This was a time of great change for yoga, as it changed and transformed new thoughts came from it.

The Current Day

The western world began to embrace yoga in the 19th century. It has certainly been westernized over the last 50 years or so. Most of the population of the western world associates yoga with poses and exercise. The philosophical aspect is occasionally lost in this adaptation for the western world. Many yoga enthusiasts are trying to bring this spirituality and philosophy back to the front of yoga. The effort to move yoga back into a journey of the mind, as much as it is a journey of the body, has been largely successful. Yoga is turning back into the lifestyle that it is intended, bringing many different types of people together in a unification of movement.

The idea of yoga has been around for a long time. In this time yoga has brought spirituality and mindfulness to millions of people. The practices of yoga have fractured, recombined, and found new purposes over these centuries. The introduction of yoga to the western world caused some shift in the balance between mind and body. However, enthusiasts of the practice have been working hard in providing education to the masses. Their work of bringing mindfulness and personal reflection back has been remarkably positive, with many people using yoga to enhance their mind, as well as their bodies. If you would like to learn more, check out this video. Thanks for reading!

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