Yoga History

A BRIEF HISTORY OF YOGA

There’s a long and rich history behind the origins of yoga dating back approximately 5000 years (reputably more).

The healing, health and wellness benefits have been recognised for centuries and their origins in religion may explain the deep-seated spiritual connection that we experience during correct practice.

There are five key periods in which the philosophy of yoga developed throughout time, and they can be broken down into the Vedas, classical, post-classical and modern phases in history.

Today yoga is popular in the West, yet with its foundations in the East, Kamalaya Koh Samui Wellness Sanctuary & Holistic Spa truly embraces the way of life that yoga promotes.

Whether you’re a cultural creative, a cosmopolitan bohemian, or just curious to learn more about yoga on your journey to lifelong wellness, familiarise yourself with its roots through a brief history of yoga below:

The Vedas
The origins of yoga can be traced back to the Northern Indian Indus-Sarasvati civilization over 5,000 years ago. The word yoga first appeared in the Rig Veda, and the Vedas were a collection of sacred texts containing songs, mantras and rituals used by Vedic priests, the Brahmans.

The Brahmans and Rishis (mystic seers) slowly developed yoga and detailed their practices in the Upanishads – work including over 200 scriptures The Bhagavad-Gîtâ was the most prolific of the Yogic scriptures and was created around 500 B.C.E. The Upanishads took the core principles and began teaching the sacrifice of the ego through self-knowledge, action and wisdom.

Classical Yoga
The pre-classical yoga phase that preceded the classical one was a myriad of conflicting ideas, beliefs and techniques. Yoga became more refined during the classical period, defined by ‘the father of yoga’ Patanjali and his Yoga-Sûtras – the first orderly presentation of yoga. It describes RAJA YOGA, often referred to as classical yoga and it guided followers through the steps and stages towards Samadhi (or enlightenment). This style of yoga still heavily influences the practice today.

Post-Classical Yoga
A couple of centuries after Patanjali’s Yoga-Sûtras, yoga evolved into practices designed to rejuvenate the body and prolong life. The yoga masters discarded the teachings of the ancient Vedas and focused on the physical self as the means to achieve enlightenment. Tantra Yoga was developed, incorporating extreme techniques for body and mind cleansing and this led to further discovery of the physical-spiritual connections centred around the body and this is what we refer to today as Hatha Yoga.

Modern Period
It was when the yoga masters began travelling to the West and attracting a following in the late 1800s and early 1900s did yoga start attracting attention. At the 1893 Parliament of Religions in Chicago USA, Swami Vivekananda captivated audiences with his yoga lectures and then in the 1920s and 30s, T. Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda and other yogi thought leaders promoted Hatha Yoga throughout India.

The first Hatha Yoga school was opened by Krishnamacharya in Mysore, 1924 and then Sivananda founded the Divine Life Society in 1936, wrote more than 200 books on the subject and established nine ashrams and numerous yoga centres around the world.

Indra Devi opened her yoga studio to the world in Hollywood in 1947, popularizing Hatha Yoga and with other pioneers has gained yoga millions of followers. There are countless schools of yoga thought and practice and at Kamalaya we teach many styles suited to your personalised wellness experience. Find out more here.

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