Yoga History

A brief overview of the main origins of Yoga from ancient times to now. Get involved: ONLINE YOGA PRACTISE every Thursday 6 - 7 pm


Ancient Roots


Yoga first emerged in India, dating back to ancient texts, including the Vedas (circa 1700 - 500 BC).

Hatha Yoga - developed by Sadhus (Holy men), it literally refers to a system of physical postures for health purposes. The Saddhus developed it to keep themselves healthy and strong enough for long hours of meditation, often in isolated and inhospitable places like caves. It is perhaps the most well known to the West.

Classical Traditions


Although there are numerous branches of Yoga these days, particularly in the West, they all have their foundations in the main classical Yoga paths that all arose in India:

  • Kriya Yoga - the Yoga of Action or work. Also known as Karma Yoga, one of the three classical traditions of Moksha (liberation). Brought to popular awareness by Parahamsa Yogananda in south India.

  • Jnana Yoga - Path of Knowledge or of Self Realization. One of the three classical paths of Moksha (liberation).
    • Raja Yoga - often considered synonymous with, or a sub-set of, Jnana Yoga. Also known as Royal Yoga, Sahara yoga, classical yoga. Ashtanga yoga is considered a sub-set of this branch.

  • Bahkti Yoga - the Yoga of Devotion. Another of the three classical Yoga paths of Moksha. A more spiritually inclined path, typically involving meditation focused on devotion to one's personal relationship with God.

Yoga Lineages


Other branches include Tantra Yoga, Mindful Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Agni Yoga (fire energy yoga), Shabd Yoga (yoga on sound) which is often part of Bhakti Yoga, Sahaja Yoga, Vivekenanda Yoga, Muktananda Yoga, Integral Yoga, and Sivananda Yoga, each of which emerged at various times in history, including the C19th and C20th.

Modern Trends


Some of the modern developments of Yoga include Vinyasa or Flow Yoga - often associated with Ashtanga Yoga; Hot Yoga conducted in heated yoga studios to induce sweating and the feeling of getting a cleansing workout; and even "Goat Yoga" in the USA.

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