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Yoga with a rich tradition
history goes back a long way

Yoga is first mentioned in the Indian Vedas, 2000 years before our era. Then spoken of again in well-known Indian texts like the Upanishads (500-300 b.c) and the Bhagavad Gita (ca. 300 b.c).

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 exercises.

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 influence.

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. 

 

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