Yoga Has its Roots in Ancient India

In America, yoga has become a popular way to exercise with yoga studios and classes located in most cities. In fact, in State College, there are four yoga studios located near Penn State University, according to Google. The practice of yoga is often associated with spirituality and eastern religions such as Hinduism. However, what many people do not know is how yoga was developed through time.

Scholars have found clay seals that depict figures in poses similar to poses done in today’s yoga classes. These clay seals are thought to be from the year 2500 BCE. About 800 years later, the earliest form of writing about yoga and meditation occurs in the Vedas (read Veh-dah-s). Around 1000 BCE, the Upanishads (read Oo-pahn-i-shah-ds) are written which contain the first detailed account of mediation. By 400 BCE, the Bhagavad Gita (read Bah-gah-vahd Ghee-tah; the Hindu Holy Book) was written, and a significant section of it describes yoga and three styles of yoga: Karma (read Karm-mah) yoga, Jnana (read Gyah- an) yoga, and Bhakti (read Bahk-ti) yoga. Starting from 400 CE, many publications were written concerning yoga, its poses, and the 8 limbs of yoga (yama [read yah-ma], niyama [ne-yah-mah], asana [ah-san-ah], pranayam [prah-nah-yam], pratyahar [prah-ti-yah-hara], dharan [dah-run], dhyana [dah-nee-yah], and samadhi [sah-mah-dhi]). By 1700 CE, about 47 new poses were added to the original set of poses.

By 1896 CE, Swami Vivekananda wrote a text which shaped the way that modern yoga is today. Around 1924, the different branches of yoga were starting to establish themselves around India. These schools of yoga were established by students who were taught by Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (read Ti-ru-mah-lai Krish-nah-ma-cha-re-yah), the father of yoga. Those students were Indra Devi, B. K. S. Iyengar, and Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn each established a distinctive style of yoga practice. These students of Krishnamacharya also published books that helped to popularize yoga in the West. By 2008, studies showed that more than 5.7 billion dollars were used on yoga classes and items every year in America.

Americans have been passionate about yoga since the 1960s, and are still passionate about it today. Currently there are 14 schools of yoga, and each school has lots of followers. These schools are Anusara, Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, Iyenga, Jivamukti, Kripalu, Kundalini, Power, Prenatal, Restorative, Sivananda, Viniyoga, and Yin yoga, according to The yoga schools with the English names are yoga styles that have been adapted from the traditional yoga styles in India.

Anusara yoga is the best way to enhance your mood during yoga, Ashtanga yoga is the best method for weight loss, and Bikram yoga is the best for building stamina. Hatha yoga is the best for calming down, Iyengar yoga is the best  method for learning the fundamentals of yoga, and Jivamukti yoga is the best for experiencing an authentic yoga class. Kripalu yoga is used to self empower people, Kundalini yoga is used to skyrocket energy levels, while Power yoga is the best for sparking metabolism. Prenatal yoga is a great way to exercise for pregnant mothers, Restorative yoga is the best way to do yoga while injured and trying to recuperate, and Sivananda yoga is a way to boost your spirituality. Finally, Viniyoga is the best way to get an individual practice, while Yin yoga helps to prepare the body for meditation practice.

I got the information for the history of yoga from a paper timeline given to us in a yoga class that is offered here at PSU, Kines 77 which is also known as Yoga 1.

2 thoughts on “Yoga Has its Roots in Ancient India

  1. Emma Behr says:

    Hi Priyanka! I am fascinated to hear some of the origins of yoga that I seem to often take for granted! I actually have yet to take a yoga class, but I would really really like to get into it because I think it seems like a wonderful way to be in tune with body, mind, and soul, and also a great way to stay in shape. Have you ever taken a yoga class? If so, do you have any recommendations? What preconceived notions did you have about yoga before you did the research for this blog post? Thank you for the helpful and insightful information! It’s always interesting!

  2. Matt Keefe says:

    That’s so interesting! I’ve always been slightly confused by yoga and I’ve never really done it except for once during track practice, but I’ve always been interested by it and wanted to learn more. I think it’s so fascinating that people practiced these stances 4500 years ago and we’re still doing the same thing today. There are obviously differences today and the entire practice of yoga has been adopted by entirely new groups of people, but in essence it’s the same general idea. It makes me feel a little more confident in the authenticity of yoga as a practice in general if it has stayed that popular for so long!

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