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History of Yoga

history of yogaThe development of Yoga can be traced back to over 5000 years ago, but some researchers think that yoga may be up to 10.000 years old. Yoga's long, rich history begins from Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5.000 years ago. The word 'Yoga' was first mentioned in the oldest sacred text, the Rig Veda.

The Vedas were a collection of texts containing songs, mantras and rituals to be used by Brahmans and Rishis, who documented their practices and beliefs in the Upanishads, a huge work containing over 200 scriptures. The most renowned of the Yogic scriptures is the Bhagavad Gita.
In the classical period of yoga, in the second century, Patanjali gave the first systematic presentation of yoga, organized into an “eight limbed path” the raja yoga path. Patanjali is often considered as the Father of Yoga and his Yoga sutras still strongly influence most styles of modern Yoga.
A few centuries after Pantanjali, Yoga masters created a system of practices and techniques to rejuvenate the body and prolong life. They turned to the physical body and with radical techniques aimed to cleanse the body and the mind, as a way to achieve enlightenment. This exploration of both physical and spiritual connection and body centered practices led to the creation of Hatha Yoga.
In modern times Swami Vivekananda brought the knowledge of Yoga to the West and yoga masters began to travel from India to the West, attracting attention and followers. This began in 1893 at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, when Swami Vivekananda wowed the attendees with his lectures on yoga and the universality of the world’s religions. In the 1920s and 30s, Hatha Yoga was strongly promoted in India with the work of T. Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda and other yogis practicing Hatha Yoga. Krishnamacharya opened the first Hatha Yoga School in Mysore in 1924 and in 1936 Sivananda founded the Divine Life Society on the banks of the holy Ganges River. Krishnamacharya produced three students that would continue his legacy and increase the popularity of Hatha Yoga: B.K.S. Iyengar, T.K.V. Desikachar and Pattabhi Jois. Sivananda was a prolific author, writing over 200 books on yoga, who also established nine ashrams and numerous yoga centers located around the world.

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