Origin Of Modern Yoga

Have you ever wondered where Yoga came from? Does your mind immediately think of Indian culture, and the Hindu traditions that have been passed down orally over generations and generations? The answers might intrigue you, as they are not as cut and dry as reason would suggest. This article will delve further into the fascinating story behind the origins of Yoga.

One of the reasons it is not so cut and dry is because of a book by Mark Singleton titled; Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice. He asserts that Yoga as we know it is more an extension of British Body Building and has nothing really to do with Hindu Culture. This view has gotten a lot of attention because he states it is a natural outlet from the naturopathy insurgence that began in the nineteenth century. According to Singleton then, Yoga was a recent invention to encourage western practitioners.
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There is an ongoing campaign by the Hindu-American Foundation to take Yoga back. This may be the result of the new schools of Yoga that were being introduced during the Hindu revivalism of the late 19th century really taking hold on western society. So much so, that the foundation is left to defend the spiritual origins of Yoga. This outreach has gotten some support especially by the New York Times, but the truth seems to be a trend toward denying the connection between Yoga and its spiritual origins by most of the western civilization.

All kinds of time frames as to where Yoga began and when, only confuses things more. Some say 26,000 years ago, while most authorities believe it is closer to between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago. However, there is scientific evidence that Yoga practice existed in the Indus Valley at least 3,000 years ago. This can be accepted as fact, because a figurine that was sitting in a Yoga pose was excavated there. But even with this important find it still doesn’t answer the question posed; where did Yoga begin?

Around 500 BC, the Bhagavad-Gita was written. To date this is the oldest known Yoga scripture. This tome is completely dedicated to Yoga and in it, it is explained how Yoga has been an old practice with a long standing tradition. However, once again there is no supportive evidence as to when and where Yoga began.

According to Margaret (Saraswati) Kruszewska Yoga has its roots in African culture, and long before India did. There is some evidence that Yoga originated in ancient Egypt. Egypt was known as Kemet and there is a tradition of Kemetic Yoga that is 10,000 years old. Hieroglyphics very surely back this assertion up, but do not explain the origins or explain where the ancient Egyptians got their knowledge from.

The traditional history of Yoga is divided into the following four broad categories; Vedic Yoga, Pre-classical Yoga, Classical Yoga, and Postclassical Yoga. However, this could be a mistake, because we now have evidence to suggest a non-Indian origin to their spiritual practices. It seems they actually adopted them from ancient Kemetic priests. Maybe the Kemetic priests escaped religious persecution and went east teaching their ways to Indian shamans.

One thing is fact, Yoga is here to stay. The origins however are not as easily explained. Indians have a long oral history, but that can not be used as a factual basis to claiming origins. The ancient Egyptian people seem to actually have historical proof suggesting that they may in fact be the originators.

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