Preclassical yoga The beginnings of yoga were developed by the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in North India more than 5000 years ago. The word yoga was first mentioned in the oldest sacred texts, the Rig Veda. The Vedas were a collection of texts containing songs, mantras and rituals to be used by brahmins, the Vedic priests. Yoga was gradually refined and developed by the brahmins and the rishis (mystical seers), who documented their practices and beliefs in the Upanishads, an enormous work containing more than 200 scriptures.
The most famous of the yogic scriptures is the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, composed around 500 BC. E. The Upanishads took the idea of ritual sacrifice from the Vedas and internalized it, teaching the sacrifice of the ego through self-knowledge, action (karma yoga) and wisdom (jnana yoga). So these are just a few drops in a pile of ocean.
It's a vast and perhaps terrifying territory. After all, guppies can easily get lost or swallowed by larger fish. But so was the old Matsyendranath, the orphan boy who, according to legend, founded haṭha yoga. His parents abandoned him on the beach and was swallowed whole by a whale, which then went deep underground.
Luckily or out of karma, this gave him the opportunity to listen to Siva and Parvati as they sat at the bottom of the ocean, whispering about the mysteries of yoga. He listened for 12 years, which is approximately the time it will take for this critic to fully absorb Roots of Yoga. And perhaps to make it the most important book of all the yoga teacher training reading lists in the English-speaking world. The practice of yoga began during the Indus-Sarasvati civilization, in northern India, more than 5000 years ago.
It was first mentioned in Rig Veda, a collection of texts that consisted of rituals, mantras and songs used mainly by brahmins, the Vedic priests. Yoga was slowly developed by the Brahmins, who eventually documented their practices and beliefs in the Upanishads, which have more than 200 scriptures. Practicing the different types of yoga (opens in a new tab) can be as simple as unfolding the yoga mat in the living room and saying some hello to the sun before work. I encourage you to read other academic debates about the origins and history of yoga to confirm the facts presented on this website.
The following year, yoga was declared by UNESCO as a practice that has an intangible cultural heritage. Krishnamacharya opened the first Hatha Yoga school in Mysore in 1924 and in 1936 Sivananda founded the Divine Life Society on the banks of the sacred Ganges River. They stifle the idea that yoga is something unique that someone has agreed to or that brings everyone to the same place. The linear model holds that yoga has Vedic origins (as reflected in Vedic texts) and influenced Buddhism.
I don't know much about yoga and its origins, but what I do understand is that it's a peaceful practice for everyone to enjoy. When you hear the word “yoga”, an image of people squirming in one presumably painful yoga pose after another will most likely appear in your head.