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India: Home of Yoga

Athulya Gopalakrishnan Thursday, August 26, 2021
India: Home of Yoga

India is a land of diverse cultures, festivals, spiritual leaders and many more. One such ancient art that originated from India is YOGA. Yoga is a spiritual activity which includes physical activities, posture, breathing exercises etc. Yoga helps in the spiritual awakening of a person. The word “Yoga” essentially means, “that which brings you in union with reality", and this could be through various methods. The founder of yoga – Patanjali Maharishi defines yoga as “ chitta vritti nirodhah” that is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind. By calming this mental chatter, we begin to cultivate the natural union within ourselves so that we find peace and bliss.

Being traced from North India for more than 5 thousand years old, Yoga is an invaluable contribution from the ancient heritage of India. Yoga can be a body-mind connector, man to nature barrier, and the controller of our thoughts and actions with the help of physical and mental principals. It is not just an exercise but also an understanding that, the nature and its man are one. That is why we do Yoga barefoot so that we can anchor us in the earth from which we were created and for which we are responsible. Internet searches show that earth absorbs all the negative elements in our body and by doing yoga we can capture the positive vibe from around us and our body.

The word yoga was first mentioned in the ancient sacred text called the Rig Veda. The Vedas are a set of four ancient sacred texts written in Sanskrit. The Rig Veda is the earliest developed sacred text which contains different slokas (hymns) and mantras written by old sages (rishi). The art of yoga was developed in the early ages by the “SAPTHARISHI” (7 sages) who documented and practised Yoga by travelling various continents and countries. The profound art of yoga was passed on to the saptarishis by Adiyogi (the 1st Guru/preacher/teacher). The Saptarishi, who travelled across the Indian subcontinent, crafted this culture around a core yogic way of life. Archaeologists have found several fossils and seals which pictured yogic postures and motives particularly near the Indus valley regions where Vedic and Upanishadic heritage, Buddhist and Jain traditions, Darshanas, epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana, theistic traditions of Shaivas, Vaishnavas, and Tantric traditions have believed been traced. The period between 500 BC - 800 A.D. is considered as the Classical period which is also considered as the most fertile and prominent period in the history and development of Yoga.


Fifteen thousand years ago, Shiva, the ADIYOGI (The one who practised yoga for the 1st time) started to meditate on the upper hill of the Himalayas. He stood there still for more than a month. At the beginning, a large group of people gathered trying to figure out what he was conveying. Often tears of ecstasy would fall down his cheeks, showing signs of life for never ate nor drank water or attend the nature call. He was so still that people could not make out whether he was alive or not.

Gradually over the months people started to disappear. Most of the people awaited a miracle, bit nothing happened. Amidst all this, there were 7 individuals who sat there still wanting to know what the Adiyogi was trying convey. These 7 people are known as the “SAPTARISHI”. They were the only people who later understood that, the stillness of the Adiyogi was possible only because he was able to capture the transcended physical nature. The SAPTHARISHIS were 1st official disciples of Adiyogi.

We know that the summer solstice begins on 21st of June. It is believed that, it is on this day that Adiyogi faced south to the sun and began teaching his disciples the mechanics of human being. On the banks of the lake Kantisarovar in the Himalayas, Adiyogi poured his profound knowledge into the legendary Saptarishis. He taught his disciples 112 way to which a man can attain his inner nature. The sages carried this powerful yogic science to different parts of the world, including Asia, the Middle East, Northern Africa and South America. However, it was in India that the yogic system found its fullest expression. Agastya, the Saptarishi who travelled across the southern Indian subcontinent, crafted this culture around a core yogic way of life. Agastya muni is known as the father of mysticism. He made sure that all the habitants south of the Vindhyas in the Deccan plateau had some kind of yogic practises and systems/ spiritual process around him.

Patanjali is often considered the father of yoga and his Yoga-Sutras still strongly influence most styles of modern yoga. A few centuries after Patanjali, yoga masters created a system of practices designed to rejuvenate the body and prolong life. Tirumalai Krishnamacharya was an Indian yoga teacher, Ayurveda healer and scholar. Often referred to as "the father of modern yoga," Krishnamacharya is widely regarded as one of the most influential yoga teachers of the 20th century.






Athulya Gopalakrishnan
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