Yoga is an ancient Indian physical and spiritual practice. The discipline includes meditation, exercises, and the use of breathing techniques. Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit expression “to yoke,” and it has been uniting the universal consciousness with the consciousness of the exerciser (Carlson & Barry 130). In terms of application, the practice can be thought of as revolving around the balancing of the mind, body, and emotions through the use of asana (postures). Thanks to its dynamic existence, which articulates changing trends and needs, yoga has managed to keep its relevance up to date. There are five major stages of history that the discipline has undergone until today.
The first stage is thought to be more than 5000 years ago when the exercise began. Yoga is said to have started in the famous Indus Valley in the afternoon hours (Alter 23). This fact is proven through the study of the stone carvings at the location which showed people sitting in positions that suggested unique forms of meditations. This period was before Hinduism came into existence. Besides the carvings at the Valley, there are other images dated 5 000 years in Egypt which showed unique poses, an indicator of the Yoga practice (Alter 23). This early stage was followed by the Vedic Period believed to be approximately 3500-2500 years ago, a time when Vedas was being written to inform the basis of Hinduism.
The pre-classical Yoga period is estimated to be 2 500 years ago when the Upanishads was put to record. Yoga at this stage was now softening to be more of meditation and less of reclusion. Later on, there were restrictions on what to do and what not to during the classical stage of Yoga. People were taught how to relate well with others, how to breathe and how to sit. The only physical activity at the classical stage was proper sitting (Carlson & Barry 130). Today, Yoga has incorporated so many ideas to improve on its effectiveness, and this has made it more fun to practice. Over the last few decades, there are new Yoga styles geared towards the presentation and preservation of its ancient history. Unlike the past, the exercise has become readily accessible to the masses particularly through literature. Before this access, the practice of Yoga had been kept as a secret and could only be handled down from one generation to the other through word of mouth from a teacher. Written accounts that we have today were, therefore, absent during the early stages of its evolution.
There are still higher chances of Yoga maintaining its relevance in the future, reducing its chances of getting lost or forgotten. Until today, the exercise has maintained its relevance to become one of the most popular in the contemporary world. A projection into the future based on the current trends of Yoga reveals that it will remain to be among the most profitable exercises for all ages. More research should be done, and if satisfactory results are discovered on its real benefits, campaigns should be started to emphasize on its practice to the population for the benefits that accrue. This is one of the effective ways of making the people who have negative perceptions on the exercise (considering it as a bad religious practice) to embrace it.
Alter, Joseph S. Yoga in modern India: The body between science and philosophy. Princeton University Press, 2004.
Carlson, Linda E., and Barry D. Bultz. “Mindbody interventions in oncology.” Current treatment options in oncology 9.2 (2008): 130-133: 23