Yoga can be mistakenly associated with Hinduism, whilst the 2 bare origins rooted in India, it is important to separate this thread of perception. Religions seek to adhere to a belief structure on how to lead a life in worship of God or the Devine. Yoga is an ancient artful science steeped in rich philosophy that seeks to unearth our deepest nature through experiencing our own divinity or true-self.
The Vedas, which translate to “knowledge” or “wisdom” is a collection of four ancient sacred Sanskirt scriptures; the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda. These four original Vedas are considered sacred revelations of the rishis, ancient seers. Consisting of thousands of mantras and hymns and tens of thousands more versus, premeditated to bring decree and prosperity to the devotees who chant them. Furthermore, the Vedas denotes sacrificial and ritual instructions as well as containing guidance on how to lead a better life.
It was the oldest of these Vedas, the Rigveda where the word Yoga and its root, yuj first appeared. The origination of the Vedas is believed to have stemmed from the Arya people who settled in the Indus Valley (what we now call India) between 1,800 and 1,500 B.C.E.
It was during the dusk of Vedic period, believed to be somewhere around 600 and 550 B.C.E that the Upanishads appeared. The word Upanishad, literally means “sitting near” and it is thought that the deeper spiritual inquest of the Upanishads, who would sit near a teacher to glean knowledge led to the evolutionary path of Yoga.
The Upanishads is also a collection of philosophical utterances, referred to as the Vedanta and shapes the path to self-realization and self-knowledge. It was during or slightly after this time that the legendary sage (or perhaps sages) Patanjali compiled The Yoga Sutras. These Sutras are a list of 196 aphorisms which join together yoga material throughout the ages in a systemized and concise manner which can easily be committed to memory. Designed to help a yogi to transcend the word Sutra is compiled of 2 parts, su denoting “thread” and tra signifying “to transcend”.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali was the most translated ancient Indian text in the medieval era and it is widely considered the foundations of Classical Yoga philosophy which we now know today.
The grace of Yoga lies in a philosophy which is open to interpretation and malleable for anyone from any culture, any age and background with a desire to better and improve one’s self. Some may briefly walk the path, for others it is a life-long journey. It seems the many variations of Yoga which exist today, are a supporting testimony that Yoga really is for everyone. Yoga has grown with our society, it has evolved and the great thing about Yoga is that regardless of where you are in your personal journey, the path has been well trodden before. You need not walk it alone, the Yogi community is one of unification, support and infinite wisdom.