Yoga originated in India many thousands of years ago and some researchers believe that it could have existed as early as 6000BC-10000BC. It is not possible to put a date on the exact origins of yoga because the ancient yogis were very secretive and selective about who they passed these teaching onto, therefore the knowledge was traditionally transmitted orally from guru to disciple. The science of yoga was originally developed by the ancient yogis who had a profound understanding of man's essential nature and knew that if man could connect to his essential nature he could find that lasting peace and happiness that he was constantly searching for.
The ancient yogi's realized that to alleviate man's suffering he would need to find a way to live in the world while maintaining peace both within himself and with the world around him. The yogi's discovered that by using techniques that would bring about an integrated state of the body, breath and the mind man would thus discover his real nature and his suffering would be alleviated.
Yoga is thought to have been developed by the Indus Valley civilization about 5000 years ago. Evidence of seals found depicting a figure seated in what resembles a yoga posture in the region of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa which may suggest that this ancient civilization may have worshipped Shiva. The word yoga first appeared in the oldest sacred texts, the “Rig Veda”. The Vedas are a collection of sacred hymns, mantras and rituals used by the Brahmanas (Vedic Priests) and Rishis. From this point in time yoga was documented, refined and developed and many of the practices and beliefs were recorded in the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. It is estimated that between 400BCE and 200AD Sage Patanjali codified the first systematic presentation of yoga and provided a systematic method of attaining Self-Realization through the application of the “Eight Limbs of Yoga”.
The History of Hatha Yoga
Further developments in yoga came with the introduction of Tantra Yoga where the body was used as the vehicle to achieve enlightenment. This was achieved through the practice of cleansing techniques for the body and the mind and asanas that would keep the body fit and healthy in order to tread the spiritual path.
During the 15 th Century Yogi Swatmarama compiled a text named “The Hatha Yoga Pradipika” which is considered to be the oldest surviving text on Hatha Yoga. The text outlines all of the techniques and practices of hatha yoga including asana, pranayama, shatkarma, mudra and bandha and many other important considerations for the yoga practitioner.
The main aim of yoga is to eliminate human suffering and to lead the aspirant to Self-Realization. The word yoga means “union or communion”, it is the union of the individual Self with the universal Self and when this occurs all sense of separation dissolves and one realizes that he and the Divine are one. Our limited consciousness prevents us from realizing our own true nature. Yogic practices provide us with the opportunity to move through the journey of life with ease as we are able to take control of our lives and move in a more positive direction. Yoga is a path of self development which allows us to reach our highest potential as human beings.
Yoga offers us a path that gives us the opportunity to greatly enhance the quality of our lives and provides us with a deeper understanding of the human experience and our relationship to the Divine.
Yoga provides each one of us with the opportunity to discover that pure self, that pure blissful living being.