History of Yoga

Yoga began in India 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit language and means, to join or integrate, or simply union. Yoga started, as far as we know, as part of India's philosophical system, but not everyone practiced yoga, and it has never been a religion.

About 5 million people in the United States do some yoga. Dance and stretching exercise classes usually have parts and pieces that come directly from yoga. If you ever go to a physical therapist, he or she may give you therapeutic exercises that are yoga postures.

There are several types of yoga. The yoga you may have seen on TV or taught at your local Y or an adult education class is called hatha yoga, or physical yoga. Sometimes it's known as the yoga for health. You may also find yoga being taught in a hospital or medical setting. Many health professionals today feel yoga can be part of a treatment plan.

Hatha yoga has three parts: a series of exercises or movements called asana (poses or postures in English), breathing techniques of all kinds, and relaxation.

Origins of Yoga

Today’s society is much faster paced that ever before.  People have more stress problems which lead to more health problems, mental and physical.  There are more concerns with toxicity in the food we eat and the air we breathe.  Millions of Americans today live a sedentary lifestyle, which is associated with obesity.  The body, the cavities of our soul, was not meant to deteriorate in such a way that leads to disease.  Yoga was developed over 5,000 years ago in India and it included spiritual beliefs, physical techniques, and scholarly philosophy. 

There is a growing trend to practicing Yoga for many different reasons, which include attaining the yoga body or physique, relaxation and peace of mind, or to prevent injury and ailments.  Americans mainly practice Hatha Yoga, which focuses on postures and stretching the body. 

Yoga, which is derived from the sacred Sanskrit language of India, meaning *union* or *to yoke or harness*.  Yoga is a way or path to transcendence and liberation from the self and the ego by purifying the mind and body.  Practicing yoga leads to a union with the mind and body or the individual and universal consciousness.  In other words, yoga is the union with the Individual Self and the Universal Self.  Yoga predates all other religions and has influenced and inspired many other traditions and philosophies.  Yoga is better understood as a union of the physical, physiological, mental, emotional, and intellectual bodies, which leads to a purposeful and balanced life. 

There is simply no other discipline quite like yoga because it utilized the body, mind and spirit, all in one practice.  Yoga is indeed a spiritual path that is based on ancient sacred philosophy, but one does not need to make an ethical decision when practicing yoga, rather finding your own path is wholly accepted.  The holistic benefits of yoga are suitable for the young or old, sick or well, with any religious background.  The secrets of yoga are inwardness, concentration, and purification of mind and body with cleansing thoughts and food. Indian philosophy states that within man is the spirit that is the center of everything.  *Internal equilibrium is the basis and the ground for the higher illumination,* The cultural Heritage of India (Vol. I) - published by The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Kolkata, India

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