Ideological churning on continuous self-knowledge and search for truth has been traditional in Indian thought. Through Yoga Vidya, in reality, the seeker attains his ultimate goal (Samadhi) through the knowledge of the self and reality. Yoga is actually a neologism derived from the oldest Arsha texts(Indian Scripture). Our sages have propounded various branches of Yoga Vidya for the welfare of human beings. Yoga was definitely practiced somewhere in the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Philosophy, and Tika periods. In this article, the historical background of yoga and its current status in the world are discussed.
Origin of Yoga –
From where did yoga originate? It would be appropriate to say that the tradition of yoga is very ancient, but – how ancient is this tradition of yoga? Who started it? And when did? It is probably not possible to give a straight answer to all these questions. But it is known from the mentions found in the ancient literature who started the Yoga tradition. As in the beginning of the fourth chapter of the Gita, Shri Krishna mentioned Yoga while preaching to Arjuna. Shri Krishna says ‘O Arjuna, it was I who taught this yoga to the Sun Surya at the beginning of creation, after that Surya taught this yoga to his son Manu, and through Manu, this yoga was given to Ikshvaku and then a long tradition of sages continued and In the end, that yoga had disappeared, which I have again presented to you today.’
The earliest recorded mention of Yoga is in Rig Veda. Again in Athrva Veda, it can be found the description of breath control, which is the practice of Pranayama Yoga.
In India In relation to the Yoga tradition, it is known that God Himself started this tradition at the beginning of creation. But it is not possible to say how many years have passed since the birth of this yoga tradition. Although Yoga Vidya was present from the beginning of creation, this belief gets more strength.
Gautama Buddha and Mahavir Jain took the Yoga Sadhna methods as their teaching practice. Gautama Buddha spoke of specific posture and meditation to attain enlightenment, while Mahavir Jain spoke of attaining salvation and freedom through meditation.
Maharshi Patanjali is considered the Father of Yoga. Patanjali was the one who systemize the practice of Yoga in the second century BC. He described and systemized the various type of yoga in his book which is called “Yoga Sutra”. Through his book, he disseminated the meaning of Yoga, and the knowledge it has to be offered. Maharshi Patanjali formulated the eight limbs of Yoga, which is called Ashtanga Yoga. This Ashtanga Yoga includes yamaj, niyamas, asanas, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyan and samadhi.
In 800 AD a revolutionary Yogi Shankaracharya reenergized the yoga culture. Sankaracharya united various yoga traditions and sorted the ideological differences. He gave the science of yoga a wider appeal. He wrote references to Indian ancient scriptures Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, and Vedant philosophy, which are wonderful insights into the Science of yoga.
The most popular tradition of yoga Hath Yoga was developed from 600 to 1500 AD. This tradition of yoga mainly focused on strengthening and purification of the body and mind. The balance between mind and body is the main objective and can be achieved by the practice of asanas, pranayama, mudras, and bandhas. Hatha yoga was formed by Sant Gorakhnath and Matsyendranath. This tradition of Yoga was more practical and helped people to improve their health.
Modern period (1700AD-1900AD)-
The Yoga sutras were almost shelved in modern times when gurus like Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Paramahansa Yogananda, Swami Vivekananda, Ramana Maharshi etc. contributed to the development and popularization of yoga throughout the world. Swami Vivekananda introduced yoga to the world by mentioning yoga in his historic speech at first being the world’s Parliament of religions of 1893.
In this period yoga was more focused on physical well-being. Raja yoga was further developed by Ramana Maharshi, Ramkrishna Paramahansa, Paramhansa Yogananda, and Vivekananda. In the 19th century, Yoga spread to the west. Vedanta, Bhakti, and Hatha Yoga were developed at this time.
Yoga had gone on such a long and illustrious journey to reach the 21st century. It has had various contributors and has undergone many changes. Despite all this, the essence of yoga remains one with yourself, your soul, and the world around you.
Ancient vs Modern View-
In the ancient yoga period, people used to live lifestyles that were connected with nature. They were in their natural state when they evolved. There was a knowledge of the body’s and mind’s mutual interaction. Bends and twists are only conceivable when both are in communion. Breath control and self-awareness are essential for this. Yoga was not just used to cure ailments in ancient times but also an emphasis on hygiene and cleanliness was evident in ancient times as well.
The use of yoga for disease treatment, physical fitness, and stress relief is a modern and somewhat basic viewpoint. Yet, this did not simply apply to brushing, washing, and regular morning ablutions. It entailed maintaining your mind, and by implication, your cognitive process, pure and clean. In simple words, we can say it resulted in overall health.
International Yoga Day
On 27 September 2014, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi called for the celebration of Yoga Day across the world in the United Nation. The general assembly of the United Nations accepted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposal. In just three months, the organization of International Yoga Day was announced by the UN. The very next year in 2015, for the first time, World Yoga Day was celebrated across the world.
The first International Day of Yoga was celebrated on June 21, 2015, after Prime Minister Modi’s proposal was approved in the United Nations General Assembly. This year, more than 35,000 people performed yoga at Rajpath in Delhi. The special thing is that representatives of 84 countries were involved in this and 21 yoga asanas were practiced. This was a record in itself. Two records were registered in the Guinness Book for such a big event held on Yoga Day in India. In which the first record was 35,985 people doing yoga together and the second record was having representatives from 84 countries participating in the ceremony together.
International Yoga Day 2023
Yoga Day 2023 will be celebrated across the world on June 21, 2023, with the theme to raise awareness about the benefits of practicing yoga. The day began to be celebrated from 2015 as a result of the efforts made by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. June 21 was chosen to celebrate the day because it is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and has special significance in other parts of the world as well.
Current Status of Yoga in the world
While modern yoga is thought to have originated in South Asia, principally in Indian culture, there is evidence that the practice also has origins in Egyptian history. It’s thought that the ancient Egyptians performed a similar kind of yoga throughout Egypt and northern Africa.
Yoga In America-
10% of us population, practices yoga. Yoga gained its popularity by 64% between 2010 and 2022. Research suggests there are 300 million yoga practitioners worldwide. Research conducted by the Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal found that one-third of Americans have tried yoga at least once.
Yoga In Saudi Arabia-
Nouf Marwaai, the first Saudi yoga instructor who is credited with introducing yoga to the country, struggled at first to raise awareness and acquire acceptance of the therapeutic practice. She has discussed the physical and mental health benefits of yoga, such as how it helps ease arthritis symptoms and help with anxiety and sadness. As yoga has gained popularity in the country, there is a growing demand for yoga studios and yoga instructors in the major Saudi cities.
Yoga in Europe-
For traveling visitors, European counties have planned several fantastic yoga retreats. Yoga vacation in Europe allows visitors to see tourist destinations and immerse themselves in the continent’s many cultures. Yoga retreats in Europe encourage a deeper sense of purpose and connection to oneself and the cosmos.
Yoga is widely practiced in several European nations. Yet, Spain is by far the most popular yoga destination in Europe. Because it is warm and inviting, the countryside is ideal for relaxation and meditation.
Millions of people worldwide have rolled out their yoga mats to celebrate a tradition that was once the province of Hinduism but is now a global craze. The essence of yoga balances, not only the body and mind but also in the human relationship with the world.
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