The History of Yoga

Yoga means union (to unite), the union of the mind and body. The union of life within, the yoga of life with others. And you may hear many other meanings and defintions about this fantastic practice, way of life and word. Yoga has been around for almost 5000 years, and what a journey it’s been…

The Ancient Age, (3000 BCE-300 BCE). Has yoga really been around that long?

Some yoga philosophers believe that tradition of yoga began as early as 5,000 years ago. Which is not only fascinating from a historical perspective, but it’s amazing to see the journey to where Yoga is today in the Western World.

Contrary to the above some believe that yoga has been around for 2500 years (instead of 5000) and was first mentioned in an ancient text. Yoga is not only fantastic for the mind and body, both spiritually and mentally it’s healing powers are evident. For things such as chronic ailments are evidential: I myself deal with arthritis and find yoga super helpful to eradicate the pain.

The Classical Age (300 BCE – 500)

In the Classical Age of yoga (in India), yoga was seen as a spiritual philosophy that could help humans reach their full human potential. The reason it is known as the “Classical Age” is because 6 classical philosophies were discovered, one of which is Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.  The focus here was more on meditation rather than the physical aspect of yoga.

The Yoga Sutra, written by Patanjali was written in the dawn of the first millennium. Some think more than just one person wrote the yoga sutras regardless this was a defining age for yoga and how it would go down in history. The sutras discuss the Eight-Limbed Path. This serves as a foundation for modern day yoga schools, we ourselves learnt this during the Sadhana Vinyasa Teacher Training. 

Image Credit: Arogya Yoga School


The Modern Age (1893-PRESENT)

The modern age of yoga started it’s path in the late 1800s after a handful of Indian yogis shared teaching of the Eastern philosophy with the Western World. One significant figure in that list was Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu monk who also gave a very influential speech at the World Parliament of Religion in Chicago, Illinois in 1893.

From that point onwards many famous yogis such as the late BKS Iyengar, Indra Devi, Bikram Choudhury and others made a name for themselves in the Western World (and Eastern). These yogis provided the rich teaching of yoga to different parts of the Western World.

Image Credit: Time Magazine

The beauty and growth of yoga from my perspective

I myself have used yoga to eradicate a skin condition, and as mentioned manage degenerative knee arthritis. Yoga helps my system work as well as it can under the ailments it faces. This helps to me to live a pretty standard life without to much discomfort.

Not only have I seen that in myself but I have seen that in others.  No wonder that the history of this practice has been around for so long without going anywhere. It has helped so many millions of people through their lives and remains with us today.

From 5000 years ago until now yoga is proving it’s popularity, and even more so in the Western World today. We have certain medicines in society today that were made years back and no longer exist, or are deemed as not as beneficial as thought. We also have certain fades that come and go in exercise but for yoga to remain is quite extraordinary. And something we should not take lightly.

Image Credit: Rime Kruciene, Unsplash

Where are we now in the History of Yoga

There is no doubt we live in very interesting times, whether you are in yoga or you are in pottery. We live in an age of being able to obtain so much information that we can use for good if decided. We are in a place where yoga is making a difference in the lives of the Western World more than ever before.

With the different types of yoga offers in and around London for example, and the accessibility of the practice. It is helping so many people with physical and mental issues they might be facing and it’s so fantastic to see.
As the knowledge of this fantastic practice reaches more people, studios and homes, the History of this generation is being written. It’s a fantastic to see some founded almost 5000 years ago is still being used. Some may say even more now in the Western World to help certain ailments. Help & treat physical & mental health disorders and as it’s done for so long make the world a better place.

Thank you for reading.

Written by Suraj Ghumra.