History of Yoga and Meditation

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There is an increasing number of students who practice yoga and meditation. This has also directly resulted to the influx of new yoga methods and techniques to cater to the growing needs of its practitioners. But how did this practice initially started out? What were its initial influences? And what made yoga a lasting practice that has produced devoted practitioners?

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Innovation of Yoga and Its Development

Although it wasn't until recently when yoga earned massive recognition and gained a huge following, it has existed for the past thousands of years. The earliest written scriptures that would help trace the origins of yoga were found in the Indus Valley during an archeological excavation. Hence, it could be very well that yoga started out during this early antique period.

Yoga has also been associated by many to Stone Age Shamanism, although there is no valid link between the two except for the fact that they have a few similarities in their method and approach. However, most modern yoga methods are still deeply rooted to the Indian philosophy, which provides this practice with its religious and spiritual aspect.

Ever since yoga was introduced, it has seen varied evolution. In the east, yoga remains to be a sacred practice that incorporates a lot of prayer and chanting into each session. But in the Western parts of the world, yoga has been used mainly for its physical exercises that are known to provide health and fitness benefits.

Vedic Period

This period represents the existence of the Vedas, which is a sacred scripture used by modern day practice of Hindusm. These scriptures collect various hymns that praise a divine power. If you were to examine the teachings of the Vedas, then you'd identify similarities to the teachings of yoga. All of the activities involved aim to go beyond the limitations of the mind and in the process allow the physical body to do things it is normally incapable of doing.

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Classical Period

This time period represents the creation of the Yoga Sutra, authored by Panjatali during the 2nd century. His writings will then pave the way for the standardization of the Classical Yoga that now serves as the basis for the practice and philosophies of Raja Yoga. At this point, the eight stages of yoga were established as follows: yama or social restraints, niyama or personal observance of discipline, asanas or physical exercises, pranayama or proper breathing control, pratyahara or sense withdrawal, dharana or concentration, dhyana or meditation, and samadhi or ecstasy.

Post-Classical Period

Now that Panjatali was able to establish the eight-limbed paths toward the ultimate goal of practicing yoga, this period witnesses the gradual spread of yoga and its teachings. This was evident not only in practice, but also in the growth of literature dedicated to the proliferation of the teachings and principles of yoga.

One of the major focus of the practice of yoga during this time period is the focus on the present moment. It has also resulted to the formation of the five principles of yoga, which are proper relaxation, proper exercise, proper breathing, proper diet, and proper meditation.

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Yoga Today

Ever since those different periods, yoga has increasingly gained popularity. As of today, over 30 million people have devoted themselves to practicing yoga regularly. Most of this can be credited to the increasing awareness of various health problems and the need to find natural but effective treatment method. Another thing that makes yoga appealing to modern individuals is that it can be utilized to improve overall health and quality of life. This are all beneficial in preventing illnesses and disease formation.

Spread of Yoga in the West

Yoga was introduced to the Western part of the world by famous yoga disciples when they traveled to this part of the world. It wasn't difficult for the Westerners to accept and practice this art, given the tremendous benefits it has to offer.

There are two main reasons why the people from the West intuitively accepted yoga as part of their routine. The physical exercise aspect of it provided essential fitness and health benefits. With several threats to someone's health, finding a natural and effective treatment method could means tons of savings in health care.

On the other hand, the emotional and spiritual aspect of yoga has provided them means to combat everyday stress and improve quality of life.

Innovation of Meditation

The modern world will always be thankful that meditation was innovated for it has allowed several people to overcome mental difficulties and disorders. Plus, it does have its wide range of benefits too for everyday living.

According to history, the earliest traces of practicing meditation where in several countries in Asia. These includes Sri Lanka, China, Japan, and India. But even though meditation finds its root in Asia, it is a universal practice that has several practitioners throughout various parts of the world. Like yoga, archeologist records for studying the history of meditation was also identified to be during the Indian Valley civilization, thus reinforcing the idea that yoga and meditation indeed were closely tied up with each other.

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Newer Meditation Techniques

Since meditation first came about, newer techniques were introduced to aid one in practicing meditation with more success. Two notable and major techniques are currently available: concentrative and mindfulness meditation.

Concentrative meditation is basically a technique that requires a certain amount of focus. You will begin by paying attention to your breathing pattern and focusing your thoughts on a particular image chosen. As soon as your body and mind relaxes, it becomes a lot easier to achieve clarity of mind and boost concentration level. Meanwhile, mindfulness meditation goes deep down inside of you. Try to pay closer attention to your internal sensations to become increasingly aware of your thought patterns. Proper mind control is the key here.

What is the Future of Yoga and Meditation?

If the continued increase in the presence of yoga studios and yoga practitioners were any indication, then it is most likely that yoga and meditation will continue to bloom in the health industry. A convergence of numerous influences has contributed in the widespread of yoga and despite the advancements in medicinal technology, yoga and meditation has managed to firmly establish its place in the industry that you can expect a flourishing future for this practice.

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