Yoga is essentially a spiritual discipline based on an extremely subtle science, which focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body. It is an art and scince of healthy living. The word 'Yoga' is derived from the Sanskrit root 'Yuj', meaning 'to join' or 'to yoke' or 'to unite'.Or in other words the union of the mind, body and energy.
The earliest mention of the contemplative tradition is found in the oldest surviving literature Rig Veda, in NasadiyaSukta. It dates back to the Indus-Saraswati civilization. The Pashupati seal from the selfsame civilization shows a figure sitting in a yogic posture, further corroborating its prevalence in those ancient times. However, the earliest mention of the practices that later became part of yoga are found in the oldest Upanishad, Brihadaranyaka. The practice of Pranayama finds a mention in one of its hymn and Pratyahara in Chandogya Upanishad. The first appearance of the word “yoga” with the same meaning as we know today, perhaps happens for the first time in Kato Upanishad, a mukhya or important Upanishad, embedded in the last eight sections of the Katha school of Yajurveda. Yoga here is seen as a process of inner journey or ascent of consciousness.
The famous dialogue, Yoga Yajnavalkya, (found in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad), between Sage Yajnavalkya and the learned BrahmvadinGargi mentions asanas, numerous breathing exercises for cleansing the body and meditation. Gargi has also spoken about Yogasanas in Chandogya Upanishad.
Vratya, a group of ascetics mentioned in the Atharvaveda, emphasized on bodily postures, which may have evolved into Yogasanas. Even Samhitas mention munis, kesins and vratyas, various ancient seers and sages who practiced rigorous physical deportments to meditate or do tapasya.
Yoga as a concept slowly emerged and has an elaborate mention in Bhagavad Gita and in Shanti Parva of Mahabharata.
Classical yoga as defined by Patanjali is an eight stages process of spiritual development (the eight limbs of yoga). The first two stages are ethical disciplines (Yamas and Nyamas). Then come postures (Asanas in Sanskrit) and breathing exercises (Pranayama). The last four limbs are meditative stages: control of the sense (Prathyara), concentration (Dharana), meditation (Dhyana) and enlightenment (Samadhi).
Yoga has become a very common term in the Western world today, and yoga classes can be found in virtually every town. Most Westerners identify yoga with hatha yoga.
Hatha yoga seeks to promote health and well-being through physical exercise. The regular practice of asanas, and breathing exercises (pranayama), makes the body strong, supple and healthy. It has a profound effect on the circulation and on the functioning of the inner organs, glands and nerves, keeping all systems in radiant health and leading to greater energy, better concentration, and a happier, more fulfilling life. Many common physical ailments can also be improved through the regular practice of yoga, and it is never too late or too early in life to take it up. Anyone can practice yoga. Nowadays, one can learn yoga in lesser spiritual set-ups due to the availability of video instructional and internet tutorials. It is somewhat a debate whether yoga's essence has faded because of videos and such. Although there are still real yoga practitioners in real meditative set-ups and hopefully the tradition stays. There has been film production and documentaries in the past about yoga. Some of which were experimental, vivid and filmed in a cinematique way like nicobeyer visual sequences.
There are many styles of yoga.
Amongst the most popular are:
Please keep on visiting this section as we will update on different type of yogas and their benefits!!