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Mon, February 7, 2022 | Lifestyle & Happiness Movement & Meditation

The History of Yoga

Since launching our app, Yoga has been a large part of our offering. It’s something that we hold in high regard for improvements in both mental and physical wellbeing… Yoga really hits the spot!

It’s often hard to explain what yoga is and most often have very different ideas about what to expect. We’ve done our research and here’s what we found!

The History of Yoga

Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in ancient India. First codified by the sage Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras around 400 C.E, the practice was in fact handed down from teacher to student long before this text arose.

Traditionally, this was a one-to-one transmission, but since yoga became popular in the West in the 20th century, group classes have become the norm. The practice aims to create union between body, mind and spirit, as well as between the individual self and universal consciousness.

Such a union tends to neutralise ego-driven thoughts and behaviours, creating a sense of spiritual awakening. Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years, and whilst many different interpretations and styles have been developed, most tend to agree that the ultimate goal of yoga is to achieve liberation from suffering.

Although each school or tradition of yoga has its own emphasis and practices, most focus on bringing together body, mind and breath as a means of altering energy or shifting consciousness.

How does modern yoga compare to the traditional version?

Modern yoga is most commonly associated with the physical practice of asana, a series of postures often weaved together in styles such as Vinyasa Flow or Ashtanga. Asana practice is generally intended to build strength and stamina, to improve flexibility, coordination and balance, and to relax the body. However, this provides only one small aspect of the tradition of yoga as a whole.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras provide the traditional foundation of yoga, in which he outlines an eightfold path of the practice. Known as the ‘Eight Limbs of Yoga,’ this path offers a guide to individuals who are dedicated to creating a union between body, mind and spirit.

Each of the Eight Limbs offers a means of living with more integrity, self-discipline, respect for nature and connection with the spiritual aspects of life. These eight practices are intended to be carried out in a holistic and integrative manner:

1. Yamas – Five universal, ethical and moral observances to live by (nonviolence, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence and non-covetousness)

2. Niyamas – Five spiritual and self-discipline observances (cleanliness, contentment, spiritual austerities, study of scriptures and surrender to God)

3. Asana – physical posture, originally intended only for seated meditation, but more recently adapted to encompass all physical yoga practices

4. Pranayama – breathing exercises to control the flow of prana (vital life force)

5. Pratyahara – Withdrawal of the senses

6. Dharana – Single pointed concentration

7. Dhyana – Meditation

8. Samadhi – Liberation or blissful union with the Divine

 

 

Jack Forrester

 

Love Yoga? Try our Power flows, energising sessions and restorative Yoga over on the Starks Online App.

Download from the App Store for free

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