Yoga (योग) is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines that originated in ancient India. Yoga-like practices were first mentioned in the ancient Hindu text known as Rigveda. Yoga is referred to in a number of the Upanishads. The first known appearance of the word “yoga” with the same meaning as the modern term is in the Katha Upanishad, which was probably composed between the fifth and third centuries BCE. The term “yoga” in the Western world often denotes a modern form of Hatha yoga and a posture-based physical fitness, stress-relief, and relaxation technique, consisting largely of asanas. Vivekananda introduced the Yoga Sutras to the West, and they became prominent after the 20th-century success of hatha yoga.
The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, meaning “to yoke,” or “to unite”. The practice aims to create a union between body, mind, and spirit, as well as between the individual self and universal consciousness. Such a union tends to neutralize ego-driven thoughts and behaviors, creating a sense of spiritual awakening.
It is a comprehensive system of physical, mental, and spiritual practices originating in ancient India. There are various types or styles, each emphasizing different aspects of the practice. Here are some of the most popular types:
Vinyasa yoga is a dynamic and flowing style where the movements are synchronized with the breath. It involves transitioning between poses in a smooth, continuous manner, often referred to as “flow.”
Ashtanga yoga follows a set sequence of poses with a specific breathing technique. It is physically demanding and focuses on strength, flexibility, and endurance. It is typically taught in a structured manner, with students gradually progressing through the series.
Iyengar yoga emphasizes alignment and precision in the practice of asanas. Props such as blocks, straps, and blankets are often used to assist in achieving proper alignment. Iyengar yoga is known for its attention to detail and therapeutic benefits.
Bikram yoga, also known as hot yoga, consists of a series of 26 poses practiced in a heated room. The heat is believed to promote flexibility and detoxification. Bikram classes follow the same sequence in every session.
Kundalini yoga combines dynamic movements, breathing techniques, chanting, and meditation. It aims to awaken the dormant energy at the base of the spine and channel it through the body’s energy centers.
It involves holding passive poses for an extended period, typically three to five minutes or more. It targets the connective tissues, such as ligaments and fascia, and promotes relaxation and flexibility.
Restorative yoga focuses on deep relaxation and restoration. It utilizes props to support the body in gentle poses, allowing for deep relaxation and release of tension.
Power yoga is an energetic and fitness-oriented style influenced by Ashtanga yoga. It emphasizes strength, stamina, and flexibility, often incorporating dynamic movements and challenging poses.
Sivananda yoga follows a specific sequence of 12 basic poses, including breathing exercises and relaxation. It incorporates a holistic approach, combining physical postures, breath control, and meditation.
These are just a few examples of the diverse range of styles available. Each style has its own unique characteristics and benefits, catering to different needs and preferences. It’s worth exploring different types to find the one that resonates with you the most.
Risk factors of Yoga
Basics of Yoga
History of Yaga
According to Edward Fitzpatrick Crangle, Hindu researchers have favored a linear theory that attempts “to interpret the origin and early development of Indian contemplative practices as a sequential growth from an Aryan genesis”; traditional Hinduism regards the Vedas as the source of all spiritual knowledge. Edwin Bryant wrote that authors who support Indigenous Aryanism also tend to support the linear model.
Heinrich Zimmer was an exponent of the synthesis model, arguing for non-Vedic eastern states of India. According to Zimmer, Yoga is part of a non-Vedic system which includes the Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy, Jainism, and Buddhism.
Indus Valley Civilisation
The twentieth-century scholars Karel Werner, Thomas McEvilley, and Mircea Eliade believe that the central figure of the Pashupati seal is in a Mulabandhasana posture, and the roots of yoga are in the Indus Valley civilization.
This is rejected by more recent scholarship; for example, Geoffrey Samuel, Andrea R. Jain, and Wendy Doniger describe the identification as speculative; the meaning of the figure will remain unknown until the Harappan script is deciphered, and the roots of yoga cannot be linked to the IVC.
Other historic aspects