A Brief History Of Yoga

Yoga is world-famous, practised internationally as a means of gaining greater spiritual connections and boosting overall health and well-being.

However even those who rely on yoga may not know it’s historic roots -– here’s our quick guide to yoga’s lengthy past…

Yoga’s early beginnings

The earliest teachings of yoga followed the oral tradition of passing on the practice, so there is limited physical evidence from this time.

The earliest known writings concerning yogic practice were written on leaves, which made them very fragile and have ultimately led to their loss.

However, yoga’s development can be traced back some 5,000 years – though there is dispute of this rough date amongst researchers, some of whom believe yoga could in fact be much older than this.

Regardless of this dispute, there is no denying that yoga in some form has been around for a very, very long time.

Early developments

Yoga’s beginnings in the form we now understand were developed in Northern India around 5,000 years ago.

The word yoga is first mentioned in the sacred text, Rigveda.

Yogic practice was then refined, slowly and over many years, documented in scripture and early texts as yoga developed.

During this period in history, yoga was still a combination of different ideas which had not yet taken on a recognisable format.

It was not until the Yoga-Sutra by Patanjali that yoga as we know it today began to take shape.

Later developments

Some centuries later, yoga masters began to create practices designed with the goal of rejuvenation and spiritual connection.

The physical body was now viewed as a means of achieving enlightenment, with yoga as the central conduit to achieving this state of bliss and harmony.

Many different forms of yoga developed over time, from more extreme and physically exerting variations using radical techniques, to calmer and more centred practices which further explored the physical and spiritual connection.

Modern yoga

From the late 1800s onwards, yoga masters travelled the west, gathered plenty of followers wherever they went.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Hatha Yoga was popular, with schools opening in 1924 and 1936. Prolific authors such as Swami Sivananda wrote over 200 books on yoga, allowing the practice and its key tenets to become even more widespread.

Today, yoga is practiced around the world with over 100 different yoga schools available, each with their own unique take on this ancient spiritual practice.

Stephen Coleclough

Stephen Coleclough is a leading international tax adviser who specialises in dealing with ultra high net worth individuals.

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