Here we take an overview of ancient classic yoga and western modern yoga.
When did Yoga start?
Yogic practices has existed for more than 5,000 years. The oldest known recorded form of Yogic methodology is referred to as “Vedic Yoga,”dating back 3,000 years. The Indus-Sarasvati civilisation in Northern India created the Vedas, which are the oldest existing scriptures in the world.
The original context of yoga was spiritual development practices to train the body and mind to self observe and become aware of their own nature.
What is the true meaning of Yoga?
The sanskrit word for Yoga meant "Union". It was the search for truth, the meaning of life, and who we are.
In ancient times, people were curious about life, and what its purpose was. They questioned who they were, why they were here, their background, society, and the eternal truth.
A few would search for truth, for the eternal, for the true meaning of life, that mattered most.
Often starting on a journey, in search of someone who truly understood the meaning of life. They sought out elders, prophets, gurus, a master who they felt knew the "truth" the "meaning of life".
The seeker or student, would either ask the master questions or sit in silence with them. The types of questions they would ask can be found in Ancient Indian Scriptures, such as The Upanishads.
In the Upanishads, pupils would often ask questions like: "What is the meaning of life?", or "Who am I?".
The masters would then give an answer to that pupil or tell them to keep meditating or keep quiet. After a few months, or maybe years, the student would have no questions left. They would be very quiet, and full of sat-chit-ananda, which is "pure-consciousness-bliss".
Once, the student was established in this eternal knowledge, they would no longer be called a student, but rather be seen to have discovered "yoga", or "union" with the master, and life itself.
The search would be over for them. They would then be able to return to the village, or town that they had previously lived in, or they could keep living with the elders.
When reading the Upanishads, we can get a good idea of what "Ancient Yoga" was like, and the types of pupils and teachers there were, and the conversations that they had.
Early yoga practiced the search for enlightenment, the truth about ourselves and the world around us.
Modern Yoga focuses on the physical experience
Today it is much easier for pupils to find a yoga teacher. Students no longer need to trek through the mountains or jungles in order to find an elder, or enlightened master. They can search on Yoga Class Near You, from their mobile phone, computer, TV or home hub.
Hi, Siri find a yoga class near me.
Yoga is extremely popular with western middle class women, they make up the bulk of students and teachers (80%). Fact is millions of Brits and Americans practice yoga regularly unlike in ancient times.
They are less interested in self enlightenment and more focused on physical wellbeing and fitness.
Many classes in Modern Yoga focus on postures, or poses "asanas". New yoga students can be forgiven for thinking that yoga poses reflect ancient yoga practice.
Western Modern Yoga is big business
Ever year billions of Pounds and dollars are spent on yoga classes, courses, workshops, retreats, clothes, mats, and assorted products.
Ancient classic yoga was about seeking enlightenment, from elders, wisemen, master, it was not about self aggrandisement perpetrated by the likes of Bikram and others keen to earn a buck.
Ancient literature, like the Bghavad Gita, or Upanishads, or Ashtavakra Gita, focus not on money which is transient but on the eternal, the search for truth, the true meaning of life, that mattered most.
You may not find the meaning of life in a Western Yoga class, but you will feel better, calmer, less stressed.
These yoga studios can have different classes on at once including: Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Hot Yoga sometimes called Bikram Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Anusara Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga. Find out more about the different styles of Yoga here.
Is Yoga Changing?
Today we see more people turning to spiritual development practices to train the body and mind to self observe and become aware of their own nature.
According to ClassPass a USA based business their research indicates that Meditation is seeing exponential growth in the USA, as people seek more than pure exercise.
They are seeking out spiritual development practices to train the body and mind to self observe and become aware of their own nature.
If you would like to find out more about Ancient Yoga, or Meditation, or Modern Yoga, please feel free to read are other blogs, like:
Where do I find the best meditation class Near me?
To find a yoga meditation class that is suited to you, there is the class finder tool on Near You.Best, which allows you to select the category of yoga you would like to do, and in a location near you.