Yoga means to join.
The joining of mind & body, body & breath, breath & movement. A.K.A. = Consciousness.
The literal translation is: to yoke. We also refer to this as union.
The West has a pretty specific image that comes to mind when defining yoga. If you travel East, yoga looks entirely different. It is true that traditional yoga has become Westernized, but that's the nature of evolution. The beauty of yoga is: it can be however and whatever you want it to feel and look. The goal of this union and connection to consciousness is to overcome suffering and create inner freedom.
Yoga originated in India, over 5,000 years ago. Mentions of yoga have been found in ancient fossil remains, seals, and documents throughout Asia, Middle East, Northern Africa, and South America. Yoga has even been mentioned in some of the oldest sacred texts ever discovered called The Vedas. These texts contained songs and rituals and were created by the Brahmans (Vedic priests).
The Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gîtâ, documented yogic scriptures, helped bring these practices to many around the world. These scriptures encouraged letting go of the ego through self-knowledge (Bhakti Yoga or basically what I do in therapy), action (Karma Yoga), and wisdom (Jnana Yoga).
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras - Once upon a time around the 2nd Century B.C.E., a man named Sage Maharshi Patanjali distilled all of the knowledge and historic traditions of yoga from around the world and organized these collections of yogic theories and practices into a textbook called The Yoga Sutras (this includes The 8 Limbed Path). You can buy it here on Amazon!
From Patanjali's Sutras sprang the invention of Hatha Yoga, which is the physical yoga we practice today in the West! Ha= sun, Tha = moon, Sun & Moon, Body and Breath, Physical and Mental. All one. All joining together to create union.
The origins of yoga do include a spiritual component which I resonate deeply with, but the practice doesn't have to include spirituality. In fact, some of my favorite teachers are not spiritual and I find their classes to be some of the most unifying.
Learn something new? What did you find interesting? I'd love to hear about it! Comment below and let's connect!