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The History of Yoga Essay

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Updated: Feb 1st, 2019

The origins of yoga are now traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization that existed during the period between 3300 and 1300 before the Common Era (Clark 3). This argument is based on archeological findings, namely the depictions of postures that resemble some of positions that are now used in yoga (Clark 3).

However, the first textual mentioning of this word appears only in the Vedic period. This evidence can show that yoga was a combination of mental, spiritual, and spiritual practices that could help a person improve his/her health and achieve liberation from many worldly desires. The classical works about this method were written during the rule of the Maurya Empire (Wasserman 7).

The classical period can be distinguished because the main principles of this teaching were established during this time. For instance, one can speak about the idea of five abstentions or pratyahara which can be translated as the withdrawal of a person’s senses (Wasserman 7). At that stage, the practitioners of yoga did not separate spiritual and physical exercises. So, this period is an important landmark that can be identified.

Moreover, one can speak about the Middle Ages which were marked by the emergence of many yoga schools. For instance, it is possible to mention Bhakti Movement, Tantra, Hatha Yoga, and many others. To a great extent, these schools of yoga continue to play an important role nowadays.

In particular, much attention should be paid to Hatha Yoga which is very popular in the United States. On the whole, one can say yoga remained a primarily Indian cultural practice before the nineteenth century. At that time, many westerners began to take interest in the culture of India. Yoga appealed to many people because they were willing to find an alternative to Western cultures.

For instance, one can mention Karl Kellner who established one of the first schools of yoga (Vad 157). However, the boom of yoga in western countries can be traced back to the early eighties when various practitioners were able to highlight the health benefits of yoga (Vad 157). Yet, they did not speak about the spiritual aspects of yoga. This is one of the details that one should keep in mind.

To a great extent, the increasing popularity of yoga can be explained by the increasing immigration of many Hindu people to other countries such as the United Kingdom or the United States (Vad 157). To a great extent, they contributed to the spread of their spiritual, mental, and physical practices.

This is one of the issues that can be identified. At present, yoga is practiced in countries that have different cultures, languages, economies, and so forth. Certainly, one cannot speak about the boom of yoga. However, many people regularly take interest in these teachings on physical and mental health. It is quite possible that in the future, yoga will still appeal to many people.

Overall, this discussion suggests that in the course of its history, yoga has passed through several transformations. In particular, this set of physical and spiritual exercises has become a part of the global culture. It is practiced in a great number of countries that are culturally related with India. However, these practitioners can eliminate the spiritual and mental elements of yoga. This is one of the main aspects that can be identified.

Works Cited

Clark, Mathew. The Origins and Practices of Yoga: A Weeny Introduction, Delhi: Lulu, 2010. Print.

Vad, Vik. Six Months in India: Yoga in Its Original Context, Delhi: Austin Ashram, 2010. Print.

Wasserman, Nancy. The Weiser Concise Guide to Yoga for Magick, New York: Weiser Books, 2007. Print.

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