What is yoga?
Yoga is a combination of physical, spiritual, and mental practices which aims to bring harmony between mind, body, and spirit. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ which means ‘unite’. According to Ayurveda, it is believed that yoga can balance the three doshas that are Vata, Pitta & Kapha. The building blocks of yoga are a set of physical exercises called ‘asana’, meditations principles, and breathing exercises called ‘pranayama’. Regular practice of yoga will boost physical and mental wellbeing.
History of yoga
Due to many reasons, the true history of yoga and its origin is still a mystery. Some researchers believe that yoga is around 5,000 years old but some researchers believe that yoga is around 10,000 years old. As we know in ancient time’s people use palm leaves for writing and they are very easily be damaged. Also, people orally transmit secret teachings to another rather than writing. All this was a reason why we lost the true history and origin of yoga.
Rig Veda is the first text which mentioned yoga. It is a 5,000-year-old sacred text that contains mantras, rituals, etc. Vedas are believed to be created before the creation of religions so it indicates that yoga is a very ancient practice and is not based on any religion.
According to myths, Lord Shiva is the first yogi (He who practices yoga) so he is called the adiyogi. Shiva shared his knowledge to ‘saptarishis’ (seven sages) and the seven sages spread the knowledge of yoga across the world.
We can divide the yogic period into five categories which are:
- Vedic period.
- Preclassical period.
- Classical period.
- Yoga in medieval times.
- Yoga in modern times.
It is believed that 4000 years ago Patanjali, one of the ‘rishi’ (seers) who lived in India is the one said to be the one who compiled the principles of yoga and made a vital contribution in the field.
Types of yoga
There are mainly four types of yoga which are
- Karma Yoga
- Bhakti Yoga
- Raja Yoga
- Jnana Yoga
Karma Yoga – Path of selfless action
Karma Yoga follows 4 major laws of karma(work) so you can be free from all stress and enjoy every moment of your work. The laws are:
- Work with a sense of duty.
- Not intensely attached to the work.
- Don’t be anxious about the results during your work.
- Accept success and failure equally.
Bhakti Yoga – Path of self-surrender
The devotion and loving attachment to the divine is signified by ‘Bhakti’. Those who practice Bhakti Yoga follow a devotional path through devotion, service, worship, and surrender. Finally, will be drawn into mystical union with the divine.
Raja Yoga – Path of self-discipline
Raja yoga or Ashtanga Yoga is created by Patanjali which contains ashtanga (Ashta – 8, Anga – Limbs) which leads to enlightenment.
The eight limbs of the Ashtanga Yoga are following:
This constitutes a complete and integral system of spiritual training.
Jnana Yoga – Path of self-awareness
It is a path of analysis. The methodology of this path centers on hearing (sravana), recall and analysis (manana), dwelling, and meditation (dhyana).
You can choose any of these paths but all lead to one destination which is spiritual enlightenment and being with the divine.