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A History of Yoga: The Basics

Yoga is quite a mystical practice. It’s heaped in spirituality, but the practice of it is also encouraged by scientists and proven to calm the mind, body, and soul.

Today, it’s as popular as it’s ever been and practiced by millions around the world; and even used in healthcare, with physical rehabilitation centers for people recovering from injury using it to help strengthen the body, while addiction treatment centers like Liberty House also use it for the mental strengthening it can offer.

But where did yoga come from exactly? We break down the history of yoga into three different eras…

Pre-classical yoga

Yoga can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago, but many researchers do believe that it can go back probably 10,000 years. Developed by the Sarasvati civilization in Northern India, yoga is first mentioned in the sacred texts of Rig Veda, which contains a range of songs, mantras, and rituals, one of these being yoga.

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It was then refined throughout the eras, developed by Brahmans and Rishis, and by 500 BCE, the Upanishads took the idea and began to teach yoga and “the sacrifice of the ego.”

Classical yoga

Moving through the ages, the classical era is often defined by Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutras, which is a text that organizes yoga into an eight-limbed path that has various steps to earning enlightenment.

Patanjali is often considered the “father of yoga,” and his text on the subject and practices that were put in place are still used and influenced the yoga we take part in today.

Post-classical yoga and modern day

As we move through the centuries, more yoga masters began to develop practices such as tantra yoga to cleanse the body, as well as hatha yoga, while by the late 1800s and early 1900s, yoga began to spread globally, with many masters making the journey to the west.

At the 1893 Parliament of Religions in Chicago, we saw a breakthrough moment for yoga in the USA with master Swami Vivekananda lecturing on the subject, and from there, it continued to spread.

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Yoga continued to become more and more prominent, and by the 1940s, yoga studios began to open. It wasn’t until the end of the 1900s and into the 2000s, however, that we saw the boom, with the internet being a large contributing factor in that. Today, every town and city across the west and the entire world will have yoga classes, and it all started thousands upon thousands of years ago.