Chapter 3: Relaxation
Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India. There is a broad variety of Yoga schools, practices, and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Among the most well-known types of yoga are Hatha yoga and Rāja yoga.
The origins of yoga have been speculated to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions, it is mentioned in the Rigveda, but most likely developed around the sixth and fifth centuries BCE, in ancient India’s ascetic and śramaṇa movements. The chronology of earliest texts describing yoga-practices is unclear, varyingly credited to Hindu Upanishads. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali date from the first half of the 1st millennium CE, but only gained prominence in the West in the 20th century. Hatha yoga texts emerged around the 11th century with origins in tantra.
History of Yoga
The origins of yoga are a matter of debate. There is no consensus on its chronology or specific origin other than that yoga developed in ancient India. Suggested origins are the Indus Valley Civilization (3300–1900 BCE) and pre-Vedic Eastern states of India, the Vedic period (1500–500 BCE), and the śramaṇa movement.
Pre-philosophical speculations of yoga begin to emerge in the texts of c. 500–200 BCE. Between 200 BCE–500 CE philosophical schools of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism were taking form and a coherent philosophical system of yoga began to emerge. The Middle Ages saw the development of many satellite traditions of yoga. Yoga came to the attention of an educated western public in the mid 19th century along with other topics of Indian philosophy.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a style of yoga codified and popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois during the 20th century which is often promoted as a modern-day form of classical Indian yoga. Ashtanga means eight limbs or branches, of which asana or physical yoga posture is merely one branch, breath or pranayama is another. Both Pattabhi Jois and Sharath Jois, his grandson, encourage practice of Ashtanga Yoga – all eight limbs. The first two limbs – Yamas and Niyamas – are given special emphasis to be practiced in conjunction with the 3rd and 4th limbs (asana and pranayama).
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois began his yoga studies in 1927 at the age of 12, and by 1948 had established the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute for teaching the specific yoga practice known as Ashtanga (Sanskrit for “eight-limbed”) Yoga. Ashtanga Yoga is named after the eight limbs of yoga mentioned in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
“Power yoga” is a generic term that may refer to any type of aerobically vigorous yoga exercise derived from Ashtanga yoga.
In Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, a chakra (Sanskrit: Cakra, Pali : Cakka) is thought to be an energy point or node in the subtle body. Chakras are believed to be part of the subtle body, not the physical body, and as such, are the meeting points of the subtle (non-physical) energy channels called Nadi. Nadi are believed to be channels in the subtle body through which the life force (prana) (non-physical) or vital energy (non-physical) moves. Various scriptural texts and teachings present a different number of chakras. It’s believed that there are many chakras in the subtle human body, according to the tantric texts, but there are seven chakras that are considered to be the most important ones.