Origin of Yoga, different paths of Yoga

a. Origin

It is believed to be started very close with the beginning of human civilization, about at least 5000 years ago, with the Stone Age of Shamanism (History of Yoga, 2005). There were found similar cultural similarities between the modern Hinduism and Mehrgarh a neolithic settlement (now called Afghanistan). Not only by a set of common practices, rituals, both concepts share together the same primary goals and ideas.

e.g. When Herodot was writing about Shamans, he also described their understanding of healing the body with plants together with healing the spirit with songs.

The first archeological evidence (1920s) of yoga, asana, sets it also back aprox. 3000 B.C. when some excavated stones from the Indus valley were depicted with figures performing yoga postures. Before that, scholars placed yoga more to a 500 B.C. timing it with Gautama the Buddha (Feuerstein)

b. History of Yoga

  • Vedic Yoga

o   Veda = knowledge / rig= praise

o   Yogic teachings were found in songs of Rig-Veda

  • Preclassical Yoga

o   Brâhmanas and Âranyakas

o   Upanishads

o   Bhagavad-Gîtâ

  • Classical Yoga

o   Ashtanga Yog Limbs – Pantajali Yog Sutra

  • Postclassical Yoga

o   Some particular attention to the body and its hidden potential

o   Influence of alchemy, using the system to rejuvenate the body, to prolong its life

o   Body getting attention as the temple of the immortal spirit

o   Time of Hatha-Yoga and Tantra-Yoga

  • Modern Yoga

o   Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893 / Swami Vivekananda

c. Noun “Yoga” – योग

From the verbal root युनक्ति (√yuj, “to yoke”), from Proto-Indo-European *yewg- (“to yoke, harness, join”), whence also Proto-Indo-European noun *yugóm that gave Sanskrit युग (yugá).

  • The act of yoking: Joining, attaching, harnessing
  • Yoke, team, vehicle
  • Putting on (of armour)
  • Remedy, cure

–          Yoga as the union of the Microcosm (individuality) and the Macrocosm (universality)

–          Yoga as the union of the Atman (Center of consciousness, Self; Vedanta) and Brahman (Absolute reality; Vedanta)

–          Yoga as the union of the- Jivatman (Soul as consciousness plus traits; Vedanta) and Paramatman: (Self/soul as only consciousness; Vedanta)

–          Yoga as the union of Shiva (Static, latent, unchanging, masculine; Tantra) and Shakti (Active, manifesting, changing, feminine; Tantra)

–          Yoga as the dis-union of Purusha (Untainted consciousness; Sankyha-Yoga) and Prakriti (Primordial, unmanifest matter; Sankyha-Yoga)

(Word Yoga Note)


d. Different Paths

The 4 paths of Yoga

i.            Jnana Yoga

The yoga of knowledge, of wisdom

“This is the most difficult path, requiring tremendous strength of will and intellect. Taking the philosophy of Vedanta the Jnana Yogi uses his mind to inquire into its own nature. We perceive the space inside and outside a glass as different, just as we see ourselves as separate from God. Jnana Yoga leads the devotee to experience his unity with God directly by breaking the glass, dissolving the veils of ignorance.” (THE FOUR PATHS OF YOGA)

ii.            Karma Yoga – the Yoga of Action – union through action. Pointing the need of understanding by experiencing the union, the action without expecting benefits, considerations or any desires.

iii.            Bhakti Yoga – Union through surrender – or to accept, to realize the relationship with the God or your super-Soul, higher-Self

“This path appeals particularly to those of an emotional nature. The Bhakti Yogi is motivated chiefly by the power of love and sees God as the embodiment of love.” (THE FOUR PATHS OF YOGA)

iv.            Raja Yoga

Raja – Royal – seen as the union at the higher level, mind level

Because of the culmination practice which is meditation, its also known as Ashtanga Yoga – for the path, the 8 limbs to arrive there. Directly connected also with Hatha Yoga (being a principle of Ashtanga Yog + Kriyas)


Other Paths

v.            Hatha Yoga

Sun – Moon – Union / Balance

Foundation of every type of Yoga, Hatha Yoga is more an embodiment of Ashtanga Yog and Kriya practices.

vi.            Kundalini Yoga / Laya Yoga / Tantra Yoga

Focuses on the awakening of kundalini energy, also known as the yoga of awareness, aims “to cultivate the creative spiritual potential of a human to uphold values, speak truth, and focus on the compassion and consciousness needed to serve and heal others.” (Swami Sivananda Radha, 2004)

Kundalini energy – as the primordial energy – represented as spiral starting a little above the sacrum – maybe to the root place where spinal nerves meet

vii.            Kriya Yoga

viii.            Mantra Yoga

ix. Ashtanga Yoga, Swara Yoga, Nada Yoga

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