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    The origins of yoga

    6 June, 2018 852
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    Although it is difficult to specify the historical moment in which yoga appeared as a science and philosophy, the first archaeological evidence of this practice dates back to approximately 3,000 BC. Stone seals show figures in yogic and meditation positions, which would be the work of the civilization that flourished in the Indus Valley more than 5,000 years ago. Traditionally, it is considered that these techniques were revealed to the great sages during deep states of meditation.

    However, other authors consider that the true origin of yoga is in the collection of scriptures that constitute the Vedas – the four oldest texts in Indian literature that date back to 1500 BC. – since that is where we find the first written references to the practice of yoga as a science of life.

    Whatever its true origin, yoga was developed over the centuries thanks to the great sages who were continuously revealing their teachings from master to disciple in a secret way, until reaching the present time. An important part of these teachings has been transcribed and made available to all humanity throughout history, although it is considered that other techniques continue to remain hidden and continue to be passed on only through oral transmission.

    As we said, the first texts in which yoga is mentioned are the Vedas. Specifically, the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda refer to central concepts of yoga such as prana or vital energy and its relationship with the breath, or energy channels and centers of the body (chakras and nadis).

    Then, the Upanishads are the next classical texts on yoga that are acknowledged. These represent the last part of the Veda and embody the pillar of the yogic teachings, based – as we explained in previous articles – on the idea of ​​an absolute consciousness (Brahman) that exists in the entire Universe. Thus, the Self, the true essence of oneself, can only be known through union (yoga) with the Absolute.

    In the Upanishads also appear fundamental concepts such as Kundalini (the primordial energy that lies asleep at the base of the spine), meditation, Karma Yoga (yoga of action), concentration on the Om mantra, or some practical aspects on the postures (asanas).

    Later, in the sixth century BC, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata came to light, two elementary works in which other important aspects of yoga are described. The second contains the Bhagavad Ghita, one of the most known epic yogic writings, in which Brahman, in his incarnation as Krishna, shows the warrior Arjuna the path of yoga and teaches him how to achieve liberation through the fulfillment of the duties of life.

    Finally, in the third century BC, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali surface, which order and systematize the practice of Raja Yoga(mental yoga) and other texts that collect Hatha Yoga (physical yoga) as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. The latter is the one that describes the asanas and breathing exercises (pranayama) in more detail and that offers the basis of the modern practice of yoga.


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