History of Yoga

Yoga is not the inspired or revealed gift of any one person. It evolved over thousands of years in India and was intuitively revealed to sages, seers and rishis when they were in deep meditative states (samadhi). It was collated, co-ordinated and systematized by the sage Patanjali (600 BC), in his classical treatise, the Yoga Sutras, which consist of 185 terse aphorisms (Sutra means thread).

The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit ‘yuj’, meaning to bind, attach, yoke, join, to focus one’s attention on, use and apply, union or communion.

When looking at the history of yoga, one cannot ignore the Bhagvad Gita. In the sixth chapter of the Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna explains the meaning of Yoga to Arjuna, as deliverance from contact with pain and sorrow. He says, “When his mind, intellect and self (ahamkara) are under control, freed from restless desire, so that they rest in the spirit within, a man becomes a Yukta – one in communion with God. A lamp does not flicker in a place where no winds blow; so it is with a yogi, who controls his mind, intellect and self, being absorbed in the spirit within him. When the restlessness of the mind, intellect and self is stilled through the practice of Yoga, the yogi by the grace of the Spirit within himself finds fulfilment. Then he knows the joy eternal which is beyond the pale of the senses which his reason cannot grasp. He abides in this reality and moves not there from. He has found the treasure above all others. There is nothing higher than this. He who has achieved this shall not be moved by the greatest sorrow. This is the real meaning of Yoga – a deliverance from contact with pain and sorrow.”

Yoga does not believe in excess, but in moderation and is the art of joyfully living in perfect harmony with the self and with Nature It is an attitude of gratitude and constantly thanks and renews its links with the Higher Self and Nature. A yoga practitioner is always in a ‘state of yes’.

In the Kathopanishad, yoga is described as, “When the senses are stilled, when the mind is at rest, when the intellect wavers not – then, say, the wise, is reached the highest stage. This steady control the senses and the mind has been defined as yoga. He who attains it is free from delusion.”

Yoga is being constantly aware that the present moment is inevitable. Yoga is living in the present moment and making each moment – each breath a celebration of life.