All About Yoga : Origin, Traditions and More

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Etymology

“Yoga” is a ‘Sanskrit’ word that derived from ‘Yuj’. ‘Yuj’ means ” to attach, join, harness, yoke”. According to ‘Mikel Burley’, the first use of the root of the word “yoga” is in hymn of Rigveda, a dedication to the rising son-god. Where it has been explained as “Yoke” or “Control”.

All About Yoga : Origin, Traditions and More

‘Panini’, Vyasa wrote the first ‘Yoga Sutra’. He says that yoga means ‘Samadhi’ (Concentration). In the yoga sutra ‘Kriyayoga’ is yoga’s “Practical” aspect : the  “Union with the Supreme” in the performance of everyday duties. A person who follow high level yoga called ‘ Yogi’ or ‘Yogini’.

Definitions

Yoga is defined in many ways by Indian Philosopher and traditions.

1st century CE in “Yoga sutras of Patanjali”, yoga chitta vritti nirodhah-” Yoga is calming down the fluctuations/patterns of mind.

2nd century of BCE in “Bhagavad Gita”, “Be equal minded in both  success and failure. Such equanimity is yoga”.         “Yoga is skill in action” “yoga to be separation from contract with suffering”.

7th-10th century CE in “Linga Purana”, ” By the word ‘yoga’ meant nirvana, the condition of Shiva”.

According to “Knut A. Jacobsen“, yoga has five principal meanings:

  1. A disciplined method of attaining a goal.
  2. Techniques controlling body and mind.
  3. A name of a school or system of philosophy (darsana).
  4. With prefixes such as “hatha-, mantra-, and laya-, traditions specialising in particular yoga techniques.
  5. The goal of yoga practice.

Patanjali define an eight-limbed yoga in ‘yoga sutra’.

  1. ‘Yama’ ( The five abstentions): ‘Ahimsa’ (Non-violence, non-harming other living beings), ‘Satya’ (truthfulness, non-falsehood), ‘Asteya’ (non- stealing), Brahmacharya (celibacy, fidelity to one’s partner), and ‘Aparigraha (non-avarice, non-possessiveness).
  2. ‘Niyama’ (The five “observances”): Sauca (purity, clearness of mind, speech and body), Santosha (contentment, acceptance of others and of one’s circumstances), Tapas (persistent meditation, perseverance, austerity), Svadhyaya (Study of self, self-reflection, study of Vedas), and Ishvara-Pranidhana (Contemplation of God/Supreme Being/True self.
  3. Asana: literally means “Seat”, and in Patanjali’s yoga sutras refers to the seated position used for meditation.
  4. Pranayama (“Breathe exercises”): Prana, breath, “Ayama”, to “strech, extend, restrain, stop”.
  5. Pratyahara (“Abstraction”): Withdrawal of the sense organs from external objects.
  6. Dharana (“Concentration”): Fixing the attention on a single object.
  7. Dhyana(“Meditation”): Intense contemplation of the nature of the object of meditation.
  8. Samadhi (“Liberation”): merging consciousness with the object of meditation.

Yoga in different traditions

All Indian religions practiced yoga in different methods.

In Hinduism 

In Hinduism yoga in practice are include, jnana yoga, bhakti yoga, karma yoga, kundalini yoga and hatha yoga.

Jain yoga

Jain faith in three jewels, austerities (tapas) such as fasting, and yoga. In Jain religion the aim of yoga is liberation and purification of the self from the forces of karma, which binds the self to the cycle of reincarnation. Like yoga the Sankhya, Jainism believes in a number of individual karma. Early Jain yoga seems to have been divided into several types, including meditation, abandonment of the body (Kayotsarga), contemplation, and reflection (bhavana).

Buddhist yoga

Buddhist yoga a variety of methods to develop the 37 aids to awakening. Bodhi (awakening) or nirvana (cessation), permanent end of suffering (dukkha) and rebirth.

In early Buddhism, yoga practices included:-

  1. The four dhyanas (four meditation or mental absorptions).
  2. The four satipatthanas( foundation or establishments of mindfulness).
  3. Anapanasati (mindfulness of breathe).
  4. The four immaterial dwellings (supranormal sates of mind).
  5. The brahmaviharas (divine abodes).
  6. Anussati (contemplations, recollections).

Chinese Buddhism developed the ‘Chan’ practice of ‘Koan’ introspection and ‘ Hua Tou’. Tantric Buddhism developed and adopted tantric methods which are the basis of the Tibetan Buddhism yoga systems, including deity yoga, guru yoga, the six yoga of Naropa, Kalacakra, Mahamudra and Dzogchen.

Tantric yoga

According to Samuel, Tantra is a contested concept. Tantra yoga may be described as practices in 9th to 10th century Buddhist and Hindu (Shiva, Shakti) texts which included yogic practices with elaborate deity visualizations using geometric arrays and drawings (mandalas), male and female deities, life-stage-related rituals, the use of chakras and mantras, and longevity and liberation.

Hatha yoga

Hatha yoga focuses on physical and mental strength-building exercises and postures describe in three Hindu texts:-

  1. Hatha yoga Pradipika by Svatmarama (15th century).
  2. Shiva Samhita, author unknown (1500 or late 17th century).
  3. Gheranda Samhita by Gheranda (late 17th century).

Some other’s Goraksha Samhita in 11th century by Gorakshanath which popular present day. Vajrayana Buddhism, founded by the Indian Mahasiddhas has a series of asanas and pranayamas (such as tummo) which resemble hatha yoga.

Classical yoga 

The origin of classical yoga are not clear, although early discussion of term appear in Upanishads. Classical yoga referred as ashtanga yoga or raja yoga is outline in the dualistic ‘yoga sutra of Patanjali’. Raja yoga originally denoted ultimate goal of yoga; Samadhi, but was popular by ‘Vivekananda’ as a ‘ashtanga yoga’. yoga philosophy came to be regarded as a distinct orthodox school (darsanas) of Hinduism in the second half of the first millennium CE.

Classical yoga incorporates epistemology, metaphysics, ethical practices, systematics exercises and self-development for body, mind and spirit.

Yoga in Advaita Vedanta

Advaita Vedanta emphasizes Jnana yoga (Yoga of knowledge), which aims at realizing the identity of one’s atman (Individual consciousness) with Brahman (the absolute consciousness). Yoga in Advaita is a ” meditative exercise of withdrawal from the particular and identification with the universal, leading to contemplation of oneself as the most universal, namely, consciousness.

Yoga Vasistha teaching seven stages of yoga practice, it was major reference for medieval Advaita point of view is the ‘Yoga Yajnavalkya’.

Laya and Kundalini yoga 

Laya and Kundalini yoga, closely related associated with hatha yoga. According to George Feuerstein, laya yoga (yoga of dissolution or merging ) ” makes meditative absorption (laya) its focus. The laya yogin seeks to transcend all memory traces and sensory experience by dissolving the microcosm, the mind, in the transcendental self-consciousness. Laya yoga a number of techniques which include listening to the “inner sound” (nada), mudras such as Khechari and Shambhavi mudras, and awakening kundalini (body energy).

Yoga in other religions

Christianity

Some Christians integrate physical aspects of yoga, stripped from the spiritual roots of of Hinduism, and others aspects of Eastern spirituality with prayer, meditation, and Jesus-centric affirmations.

In 1989 and 2003, the Vatican issued two documents: “Aspects of Christian meditation” and “A Christian reflection of New Age”. The 2003 document was published as a 90-page handbook detailing the Vatican’s position.

Islam 

Early-11-century Persian scholar Al-Biruni visited India, lived with Hindus for 16 years. He translated the Sanskrit work into Arabic and Persian. Al-Biruni version of the yoga sutras reached Persia and the Arabian Peninsula by about 1050. In 16th century, the hatha yoga translated in Persian and Arabic.