Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines that originated in ancient India. There is a broad variety of yoga schools, practices, and goals. Among the most well-known types of yoga are Hatha yoga and Rāja yoga, and on December 1, 2016, yoga was listed by UNESCO as an Intangible cultural heritage.
The origin of yoga is believed to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions, as it is mentioned in the Rigveda. However, it most likely developed around the sixth and fifth centuries BCE, in ancient India. The chronology of earliest texts describing yoga-practices is unclear but only gained prominence in the West in the 20th century. The Hatha yoga texts emerged around the 11th century with origins in Tantra.
Yoga gurus from India later introduced yoga to the West, in the late 19th and early 20th century. In the 1980s, yoga became popular as a system of physical exercise across the Western world, but in Indian traditions, however, is more than physical exercise.
Yoga has a meditative and spiritual core, and one of the six major orthodox schools of Hinduism is also called Yoga, which has its own epistemology and metaphysics and is closely related to Hindu Samkhya philosophy.
Many studies have tried to determine the effectiveness of yoga for wellness, and as a complementary intervention for cancer, schizophrenia, asthma, and heart disease, and the results of these studies have been mixed and inconclusive.
Yoga has so many different forms and passionate devotees that it can be intimidating if you’re just getting started, but whether you’re aiming to nail a handstand or simply looking for a place to find some balance, yoga is a great form of mental and physical exercise and a great way to maintain general wellness.
To access and enjoy the benefits yoga has to offer, it’s important to figure out which type of yoga (Vinyasa, Hatha, or heated) is the right match for you, and you’ll also need to find the right level of class to fit your skills so that you avoid injury and still get a challenge.