History of Yoga and How it Helps You Balance Your Life

history of yogaYoga is an ancient technique for balance and meditation that results in fitness and overall body health. The history of Yoga is important in understanding whether Yoga is for you and how you can use Yoga to help you find balance in your life. For a beginner’s perspective in Yoga you can take Yoga for Beginners which will help you learn the basics and breathing techniques.

What is Yoga?

The ancient training and teachings of Yoga have been in existence for five thousand years or more.  In ancient times, there existed a desire for explorations of personal freedom, health, long life, and self-understanding which eventually led to this system of physical and mental exercise, called Yoga, which has since spread throughout the world. The word Yoga means “to yoke together,” which brings the body and mind together.  This joining together melds the mind and body into one harmonious being. The whole of the “Yoga system” is designed to put pressure on the glandular systems of the body, thereby increasing its efficiency and total health. The body is your temple and looked upon as the primary instrument that enables us to work and evolve in the world. A Yoga student treats their temple with great care and respect trying only to put things in that increase health and stay away from harmful influences. Yoga’s many breathing techniques are based upon the concept that breath is the source of life in the body and control of breathing helps puts you in control of your life. The Yoga student gently increases breath control to improve the health and function of the body and the mind simultaneously.  Thus, exercise and breathing can then prepare the body and mind for meditation. In this way you can find an easy approach to a quiet mind that allows  you to silence distractions and heal yourself from the stresses that are ever-increasing in your everyday life.  Regular daily practice of  Yoga and its teachings can help you foster a clear, quick mind and a strong, powerful body. This is how Yoga gained so much power and popularity, we are in the most physically and mentally stressful time of human history. It is not always easy to escape to a Yoga retreat to find your balance in a forest or spa, but you can learn to bring that home with you in this online course:

Yoga at Home will help you apply the masterful techniques developed over thousands of years from your own home on your spare time.

A Trip With Yoga

Yoga has a long and colorful history. A history that has shaped the future. No one knows exactly when Yoga first was developed, but it has been around longer than written history. Even some stone carvings depict figures in Yoga positions. Many have been found in archaeological sites in the Indus Valley dating back over five thousand years. Although many wrongly assume that Yoga is rooted in Hinduism, the truth, actually is that Hinduism’s religious structures evolved much later and incorporated much of the practices of Yoga. (Other religions throughout the world have also incorporated practices and ideas related to Yoga.)

Yoga had always been passed on from teacher to student, much like martial arts.  Using oral teaching and practical demonstration the tradition was preserved, though small changes may have been applied to original teachings as the world evolved.  Due to this method of mentor-ship, the formal techniques that are now known as Yoga are based on the collective experiences of many individuals over many thousands of years.  That itself is simply amazing and is a testament to the importance of every aspect of Yoga training.  The particular manner in which the techniques are taught and practiced today depends on the approach passed down in the line of teachers supporting the individuals or classes.  A scholar named Pantanjali brought together many of the different teaching of Yoga and compiled them into a single text, one of the earliest ever found, which outlined the practices and ideologies of Yoga that are the most popular ones used today.  His book was called Yoga Sutras meaning fused aphorisms, and was written sometime between the 2nd Century B.C. and the 5th Century A.D.  The dates are debate-able, but the teachings, which became known as the eight limbs of Yoga, or “Ashtanga Yoga,” became what is known today as Classical Yoga.  His system acted as a precursor for most of the systems used today and in that manner, Pantanjali, is a pioneer in one of the most prevalent arts of balance and meditation in existence today.  These eight steps act as a guideline for people searching for inner peace and are important to Pantanjali’s teachings.

The eight steps of Classical Yoga are:

  1. Yama, meaning “restraint” — refraining from violence, lying, stealing, casual sex, and hoarding;
  2. Niyama, meaning “observance” — purity, contentment, tolerance, study, and remembrance
  3. Asana, physical exercises
  4. Pranayama, breathing techniques
  5. Pratyahara, preparation for meditation, described as “withdrawal of the mind from the senses”
  6. Dharana, concentration, being able to hold the mind on one object for a specified time
  7. Dhyana, meditation, the ability to focus on one thing (or nothing) indefinitely
  8. Samadhi, absorption, or realization of the essential nature of the self. Modern Western Yoga classes generally focus on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th steps.

To learn more about how Yoga can help you find a balance, you can find tutorials at Yin Yoga. Here teachers will instruct you on how you can use Yoga to find your center. Finding your balance in life through spiritualism and exercises such as Yoga help with the stress of life in this pressure-focused world. Yoga exists for these hardships as well with classes on Yoga for Stress which can help you find serenity within chaos. Though Yoga is believed to have arrived in the United States in the late 1800’s, it did not become widely known until the 1960’s.  It began with the change in culture; Americans becoming more interested in Eastern culture. As more became known about the beneficial effects of Yoga, it gained acceptance and respect as a valuable method for helping in the management of stress and improving health and well-being. Yoga can help balance the stressful life that has been created by the demands of modern-day expectations. The world is changing faster than we can control and in the process people forget to find time and reflect upon their own lives and serenity with the nature around them. Once you appropriately attempt to understand and apply these Yoga techniques, you can capture the feelings of freedom that ancestors of ourselves grasped onto over 5,000 years ago.