Yoga has its roots in the Vedas, hence its origin is also supposed to be back to the time of Vedas. Yoga is not just some exercise, it is a discipline, a way of living, and a lifestyle. Therefore, in his Yoga Sutras, Maharishi Patanjali Ji states–
अथ योगानुशासनम् || (P.Y.S. – 1.1)
which refers to – “from here, the discipline of Yoga starts.”
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna during his teachings to Arjuna also quotes about Yoga saying –
समत्वं योग उच्यते ( S.B.G. – 2.48)
योगः कर्मसु कौशलम् (S.B.G. – 2.50)
Which respectively refers to – Yoga is Harmony and Yoga is a skill in action.
Different Yogis over time explained different aspects and forms of Yoga. Four types of yoga have their reference in our holy test the Bhagavad Gita, which are, namely – Karma Yoga, Jnana (Gyan) Yoga, Bhakti yoga and Dhyana Yoga. Hence, Bhagavad Gita is known to be the most authentic text of Yoga.
Other known types of yoga include – Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Laya Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, and Ashtanga Yoga.
The most widely known and practiced out of all types of Yoga is Ashtanga Yoga explained by Maharishi Patanjali in his Yogic Sutras. Ashtanga Yoga is called so because it is composed of eight limbs/parts of Yoga which are –
Although Yoga is so vast in its nature and forms of practices but generally gets associated only with asanas. Uninitiated people think yoga is only about asana, as they are only focused on their physiological being, whereas the actual beauty of yoga lies in its mental and spiritual aspects which involve Pranayama, Dhyana etc.
Yoga was introduced as a spiritual practice in ancient times where the meaning of world ‘yoga’ was held as ‘union’ between atman and paramtaman. Yoga has a holistic approach and hence it is the best alternative therapy out there. Rather than only helping healthy individuals to stay fit, it also is doing its best in the field of therapy. In the field of research in recent years, yoga has shown promising results for not only physiological conditions like diabetes, and lumbar & cervical spondylosis, but also in psychological and mental conditions like stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Yoga has come a long way and paved its way to becoming a successful Indian Traditional Medicinal System recognised by AYUSH, where ‘Y’ is representative of Yoga. 21st June was declared as the International Day of Yoga during the UN General Assembly in 2014. From where on it is marked every year by 45 minutes protocol called as Common Yoga Protocol.
Author– Shagun Sharma
JRF, Department of Orthopaedics, AIIMS, New Delhi
B.Sc. & M.Sc. Yoga from MDNIY