often pay a visit to the temples, ashrams and places of serenity with the
very purpose of attaining peace of mind, body and soul. However there is one
such means by which a guaranteed peace of mind and body can be maintained -
YOGA. The term Yoga has been derived from a Sanskrit word meaning to 'Join
together'. As a general term in Hinduism it has been defined as "technologies
or disciplines of asceticism and meditation which are considered to take us
to the path of spiritual experience and great understanding or insight in to
the nature of existence. Yoga in short is a system of exercises for physical
and mental well being.
Today Yoga is practiced as a series of exercises merely done to keep the
body fit and fine. In fact by many it is considered as the substitute of the
gyms and other health centres. Yoga as a form of exercise is followed all
over the world. There are several Hindu texts that discusses the various
aspects of yoga like the Upanishads, the Bhagwad Gita, the Shiva Shamhita
and many others.
History of Yoga
Yoga was developed about five thousand years ago. It combines stylised
poses with deep breathing meditation. The existence of Yoga can be traced
back from the Indus Valley Civilization. Several seals of those times have
been discovered at the Indus Valley Sites that depict figures in a yoga or
meditation postures. The most widely famous among these seals was named
The main credit for systematizing yoga goes to Patanjali who wrote 'Yoga
Sutra' some two thousand years ago. He described the principles of the full
eight fold yogic discipline. He formulated the sutras. Yoga Sutra is the
most important basic text on Yoga.
Major Branches of Yoga
Major branches of Yoga include :
Eight Stages of Yoga Discipline
- Hatha Yoga
- Karma Yoga
- Jnana Yoga
- Bhakti Yoga
- Raja Yoga
Patanjali has recommended eight stages of Yoga Discipline. They are:
- Yamas(abstentions or restrains)
- Niyamas(observances) - austerities, purity, contenment,
study, surrender of the ego.
- Physical postures or exercises.
- Control of vital energy (breathing control)
- Withdrawal of the senses
- Concentration of the mind (Contemplation)
- Attainment of the super conscious state.