Yoga is an age old spiritual and physical activity enjoyed by millions throughout the world. Yoga came to light particularly in the East, and over time it made its way to the West. Although the growth of Yoga has been a long journey with many influences, the story of Yoga can be followed by understanding the three periods from which it originated. These periods are known as: The Classical Period, The Post-Classical Period and Modern Period. Each period has its story, and its own unique additions to the practices of Yoga among cultures.
During the second century, someone by the name of Patanjali, the compiler of the Yoga Sutras, an important collection of Yoga practice. In traditional Hindu, Yoga is at the epicenter of metaphysics and meditation. It is in these practices that one focuses more on the mind, body and soul rather than an individual to help heal or comfort them.. He also came up with the eight limbed path that uses different words for different areas of concentration: YAMA is conduct toward others, moral observances or social discipline, NIYAMA is conduct toward the Self, individual discipline or restraints, ASANA means posture, DHYANA is Meditation, and SAMADHI is Self-Realization. It makes sense that the physical aspects of Yoga are totally in tune with the ideologies of a more Buddhist frame of mind.
This period Yoga was going through changes where it was being practiced and even altered in some ways. It paved the way for its use in United States and even became a different type of lifestyle for some. At this point it had become more of a purification of your system and a way to get in touch with your more spiritual side. Its concentration was more on the mental part of life rather than the physical existence in this world. It gave people a chance to really get to know themselves through meditation and relaxation techniques to relieve stress.
This is the period when Yoga became fun in the West, although still practiced with total respect in the East. It was not until the 1960-1970’s that Yoga really became a popular activity, especially during the “hippie” movement. People at that time did not care much about conventional ways and accepted it for its spiritual benefits. It became even more of a West Coast trend once it hit the United States and gave way to the “healthier” lifestyle people try to achieve.
Yoga means different things to different people. To some, it is just an exercise they do to trim off a few pounds. To others it is a way of life and never ending happiness into an enlightened state. There are “rules” to be followed and certain ways to live by. Whether you choose it for one purpose or another, it is definitely a health benefit. You might lose a few pounds or you just may wake up a totally changed person because of its effect on your spiritual state of being. Yoga is one healthy activity that can be enjoyed by all.