History Of Yoga
Indian culture has given many gifts to the world. One of the gifts which has taken the modern world by storm is the ancient art of Yoga. The exact origins of Yoga are unknown but it is thought to be centuries old.
Yoga is referred to in the ancient texts of Vedas when men were interested in the quest for knowledge and self-realisation. They realised that when all the sensory organs and the mind were in complete alignment, they felt a state of calmness which they defined as yoga. Thus tapa, rigorous austerity, meditation and supernatural awareness became Yoga. However, this was a highly puritanical view of Yoga.
Around 200BC, Rishi Patanjali, compiled and refined the system of Yoga. He was the first person to put into writing all the verbal teachings of Yoga, which came to be known as the Yoga Sutras.
He laid down 8 steps of classical Yoga. They include:
- Yama - Moral restraint
- Niyams - Observance
- Asana - Posture
- Pranayama - Breath control
- Pratyahara - Controlling the senses
- Dharna - Concentration
- Dhyana - Meditation
- Samadhi - Transconsciousness or contemplation
The first five steps deal with the body and mind form the 'Hathya Yoga'. The latter three deal with 'Raja Yoga'. The real Yoga is a combination of Hatha & Raja. Pratyahara (fifth step) bridges the two systems together.
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