Yoga combines aspects of exercise, meditation, and fitness and serves to unify the mind, body, and spirit. Yoga is a practice that has evolved throughout its history and is strongly rooted in tradition. Yoga originated in India as a system of health and fitness and was first mentioned in the Rig Veda, the oldest of India’s sacred texts. The practice of Yoga is estimate to be over four thousand years old, and while it has evolved since its origins the basic principal of fitness for the mind, body, and soul remains the same today.
You can see the changes that the practice of yoga has underwent if you study the time periods over which it has evolved. Yoga originated centuries ago in the pre-classical period where the ideals of physical and spiritual unity first took shape. After its inception, the classical period, post-classical period and modern period then took place and yoga evolved throughout to the form we practice today.
When most people think of yoga they envision relaxation and contortionist poses. While the poses of yoga are an important part of the practice, they are only one aspect of the entire program of unity. Yoga includes many different things such as physical poses and movements, breathing control techniques, spiritual discipline, and meditation. All of these aspects are combined to help the student reach a state of well being in physical, mental, and spiritual form.
During the 20th century a widespread interest in the practice of yoga caused this ancient tradition to become a mainstream practice. While modern yoga practices do sometimes diverge from yoga’s religious beginning, the practice of yoga is still very much about developing spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental well being.
Just as yoga has evolved into a modern form of exercise, it has also branched out into different schools of philosophy. Some forms of yoga focus more on the physical aspects of the practice while others hold true to yoga’s original meditative and spiritual practices. But no matter which form of yoga you practice, the ultimate purpose remains the same; to encourage harmony in the body, mind, and soul. Today yoga is considered to be a comprehensive exercise program that promotes much more than just physical fitness.