Yoga: Origins, Benefits and Techniques

The Yoga refers to traditional physical, mental and spiritual discipline that originated in India. The word is associated with practices of meditation in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Yoga is not a product of Vedic culture but aboriginal India, as would be other elements that will be characteristic of later Hinduism of the mystical and emotional devotion called the Bhakti, individual ceremonial worship of the deities or the Puja, initiatory rites and so on.

Yoga is a living fossil, whose origins in the culture varied in the native world through the Indo-Aryan migration, that being relegated survived in the most popular strata, where it would be preserved thanks to a sectarian structure. Western writers including historians believed that in the Indus culture yoga was known. In fact, it is unknown whether a person portrayed on a seal, sitting cross-legged, is practicing a primitive form of yoga.

The search for the origins of Yoga could perhaps be useless from the point of view of the philosophical investigation, but there is the obvious fact that Yoga, comes from ancient times, and has been preserved until today, adapting to every philosophical trend of Indian thought, and not only that it spread in other countries of Asia and in modern times to the West.

The first large Indian work that describes the system and techniques of Yoga is the Yoga Sūtra compiled by Patanjali in the fifth century BCE, which contains 196 sūtras. The underlying philosophy is the Ayurveda.

The raja yoga is usually identified with the Ashtanga yoga described by Patañjali. They are the internal techniques of yoga, composed of mantras, sounds, mudras or gestures, mandalas, activation and unlocking of chakras, and relaxation techniques.

The hatha yoga is the yoga most widely used worldwide and is known for its asanas or body positions. It is a system of physical postures whose purpose is to make the body fit for meditation. The asanas generate physical and mental serenity so that a devout yogi can sit for several hours in a meditation pose without suffering fatigue or restlessness. One of the main asanas is Padmāsana or lotus position and salutation to the sun or Suria Namaskar.

Finally, comes pranayama. It consists of a set of breathing-type practices aimed at purifying the channels of life force, similar to the Taichi meridians.

It is practiced by millions of people around the world. And many believe that yoga is a timeless discipline, based on ancient traditions and has not changed in millennia, which is more multicultural and changeable than many people think.

Everything began to change in the early twentieth century, with the movement of eugenics and the growing interest in what began to be called physical culture. In reality, there is no Tantric Yoga or thought as a discipline in its own right in the Indian traditions, as indeed there is no independent tantric phenomenon in that vast and complex set of religious traditions in India.

Yoga is a spiritual path that can be done for various reasons. Some approach this discipline to rediscover breathing, others as a result of an injury, still others for the meditative value, to improve sleep or, as may happen even by accident.