There are a few early signs of a physical form of yoga but it is
more common with references to ascetic way of life where you are
turning away from the world and to others more meditative
Over time, however, yoga is described as a separate practice for
spiritual development. The classic yoga is a fusion of several
philosophical schools, where both Hinduism and Buddhism had a great
The text often spoken of as yoga's basic text is the Yoga Sutras
of Patanjali. Nowadays, scientists believe it was created around
400 years b.c, but many say that it would be much older.
Patanjali is spoken of as a legend in Indian mythology and the
Yoga Sutra is one of the earliest descriptions of yoga.
It is written in the classical language of Sanskrit and in 195
short sentences, called aphorisms, yoga is described as both a
philosophy and practice. This is where you will find the
description of yoga's eight branches.
Patanjali's Yoga Sutra has been very pervasive in the world of
yoga. It begins by stating what yoga is. Translated into english,
it would be something like this:
"Yoga is the ability to concentrate on an object without being
distracted," or: "Yoga is the quieting of all the movements of the
mind". If you read further, you understand that it is about to
reach a state, or a kind of present state, which has a quieted
consciousness. The ultimate goal is called Samadhi in sanskrit.
A popular modern description of yoga is that it means union of
body, mind and soul. How to reach this union - or how to still the
mind - there are then a number of different ideas about. Those who
wants to deepen their understanding about the different branches of
Ashtanga Yoga, or learn more about the history of Yoga, has a great
treasure of ancient texts to study. A good way to start could be to
read Patanjali's Yoga Sutra.