By , on September 18th, 2019 Ancient Wisdom


If there’s anything from the Eastern part of the world that has attained global “rock-star” status during the last couple of decades, it is “Yoga” for sure!

Unlike two to three decades ago, today Yoga is as American as grilled-cheese sandwich and apple-pie.

However, most of us often wonder what exactly Yoga is!

Sometimes some of us skeptics even wonder if it could be some superstitious voodoo Indian practice. You know, with incenses and chants and meditation, topped off with some “exaggerated” mental and physical health benefit claims!!!

So, is there any real science behind this millennia-old, seemingly powerful practice? Let us try to get some clarification here…..

Initially, Yoga practices originated in India about 15,000 years ago. According to the yogic lore, during that time-period, somewhere in the Himalayas, it was Adi-Yogi (i.e. the First Yogi), who first sowed the seeds of Yoga in the human mind.

In the Indian or Hindu culture, Adi-Yogi is also known as Adi-Guru (i.e. the First Guru) or Shiva.

The word Yoga literally means “union” – union with “the Source” or “the Ultimate”.

Since Adi-Yogi introduced Yoga to the human race, around 2nd century BC, the great Indian sage-scientist, Patanjali, categorized and codified the principles and practice of Yoga in his treatise “Yoga Sutra”.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is the oldest written record of Yoga and it is a treasure-trove of guidelines for a meaningful and purposeful life. Even today, Yoga Sutra provides the framework for the various forms of modern-day Yoga.

Patanjali defines Yoga as having eight components or eight limbs, which is referred to as “ashtanga” in Sanskrit. These eight limbs are:

  1. Yama (i.e. abstinences)
  2. Niyama (i.e. observances)
  3. Asana (i.e. yoga postures)
  4. Pranayama (i.e. breath control)
  5. Pratyahara (i.e. withdrawal of the senses)
  6. Dhaarana (i.e. concentration)
  7. Dhyana (i.e. meditation)
  8. Samadhi (i.e. absorption)

The current global popularity status of Yoga didn’t happen overnight or just over the last one or two decades. Rather, it has been a gradual process of “East meets West”.

In 1893 the great Indian sage, Swami Vivekananda, sowed the seeds for a promising global spirituality, at the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago.

In 1920, another great Indian Yogi, Yogananda Paramahansa, who is widely regarded as the “father of Yoga in the West”, established the Los Angeles based Self-Realization Fellowship. This served to disseminate Yoga practices to millions of Americans.

Several Yogis, Swamis and Yoga teachers have followed since that time, paving the way for the “current state of Yoga” in the West.

Fast-forward to 2014…..

Recognizing the universal appeal of Yoga, on 11th December 2014, by resolution 69/131, the United Nations proclaimed June 21st as the International Day of Yoga.

In recent times, many see Yoga as some sort of exercise or mini-gymnastics where you twist and turn your body in all sorts of poses. However, this perspective is a gross underestimation of the power of this ancient holistic and scientific practice.

Sadhguru says that Yoga is a science to determine the nature of who you are and what you want to be.

The science of Yoga is based on a deep understanding of the human system and all aspects of life, and has been evolved over thousands of years. Even modern science now shows that brain activity, body chemistry and physiology can be changed by practicing certain types of Yoga.

Yoga is a powerful scientific technology that has the potential to essentially change who you are. It has the power to help you realize and blossom to your full potential.

Resources for you:
(1) What is Yoga? Sadhguru – Part 1:

(2) What is Yoga? Sadhguru – Part 2:

(3) Isha Kriya: A Free Guided Meditation – Sadhguru:

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