The History of Yoga (2020) by Vinyasa Yoga School

Welcome to your crash course on the history of yoga!

What you’ll learn:

  • You’ll be getting a short high-level overview of the history of yoga.
    • Feel free to stop here if that’s all you need!
  • You’ll learn about some of the early traces of yoga’s development.
  • You’ll learn about how yoga arrived at where it is today.

What might surprise you:

  • While many people associate yoga with Hinduism, yogic tradition has been influenced by Buddhism, ritual sacrifice, gymnastics, and many other practices.
  • Although yoga has been around for millennia, the focus of yoga as exercise blossomed only in the last two hundred years.

We should start by saying history can be subjective. Attempting to represent the complete history of yoga would be almost impossible, especially in one article. (For context, we spend a month or two guiding our students through yoga philosophy and history in our yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, India, and even that only scratches the surface.)

There is still debate on the origins of yoga, and it’s pretty clear that there is no single fixed yogic tradition.

However, here’s what we can all agree on:

  • Yoga is a group of spiritual, mental, and physical practices that began in ancient India.
  • Historically, yogic tradition primarily focused on how to cultivate spiritual liberation.
  • Today, most of the world views yoga as a physical practice of asanas (yoga poses) and vinyasas (movement between a series of poses).

We’ve divided our article into a few sections:

Chapter 1 – A Short & Sweet Summary

Chapter 2 – Seeds are Sown

Chapter 3 – Roots Take Hold

Chapter 4 – Pollen Spreads

Chapter 5 – The Present Moment

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Source: Vinyasa Yoga School