What is yoga?
Yoga began in India at least 5,000 years ago as a community based activity. Scholars know this because of paintings they discovered in the Indus Valley showing people in yoga poses. They, also, found engraved stone
seals, dating from 3000 BC, showing people in yoga poses.
The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit root yuj, which translates as “to join” or “to yoke”. It is a philosophy that joins together the mind, body, and spirit.
Within the history of yoga there are five distinct periods: Vedic, Pre-Classical, Classical, Post-Classical, and Modern.
The Vedic period was from 1500-1200 BC. It is during this time that books of hymns, mantras, and rituals are written with the main focus on controlling the breath.
The Pre-classical was from 800-500 BC and this is when the Upanishads are written. The Upanishads explain that it is important to understand that all things are connected to each other. During this period two types of
yoga emerge: karma and jnana. Also, the Bhagavad-Gita is written.
It is during the Classical Period that Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras. It is believed that they were written around 200 AD. The Yoga Sutras are 195 passages, which provide words of wisdom. It is within the Yoga Sutras that Patanjali describes the 8 Limbs of Yoga.
During the Post Classical Period yoga changes it emphasis from “liberating” one from life’s circumstances to accepting the present day conditions of life.
The Modern era began in 1893 when Swami Vivekanada went to the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago. He introduced Raja Yoga, which focuses on meditation to increase ones consciousness, to America. Also, during this period the Bhagavad-Gita is translated into English and books with drawings of yoga poses begin to appear.
Chakras are another topic that yoga does focus on. The seven chakras fall in relation to the spinal column. They are Root, Sacral, Solar Plexus, Heart, Throat, Brow, and Crown. A chakra is an energy center that is a wheel that spins.
Each chakra has a related element, color, sound, poses, gems, planet, meditations, essential oils, psychological issues, and foods.