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Where Hatha fits in to the History of Yoga

Seal found in Indus Valley

The earliest traces of Yoga activity were found in the Indus valley in the 1920’s. Seals were found showing men in the Lotus position and were thought to be from around 3000BC. The oldest known evidence of Hatha Yoga being practiced dates back to 2500BC.   Hatha Yoga is a complete disclipline and practice for the harmonious development of the entire being.   
The Bhagavadgita and the Upanishads are the main foundation of yoga teaching and the earliest writings are about 3000 years old. The later Upanishads (300 BC) teach the method of yoga.  
These writings were the beginnings of Yoga as we know today, and from them came the four main Paths of Yoga which all lead to the same – union with Brahman or God.

Paths of Yoga 

Karma Yoga – the yoga of action – this teaches selfless acts, no gain or reward. And to purify the Ego.  Mind is focused on repeating a mantra while engaged in any activity.

Bhakti Yoga – The path of  Devotion. The motivation is the power of unconditional love and devotion. Chanting and singing the praises of God, also prayer, worship and ritual, surrendering to God.

Jnana Yoga – The yoga of knowledge or wisdom, this is the study of yoga, the philosophy of Vedanta.  The yogi needs to practice the other paths before this, as this one is the search for self-realization.

Raja YogaThe science of physical and mental control, or ‘royal road’.  This is the Yoga most practiced in class in the UK. Hatha Yoga (Ha means sun; tha means moon) is the practical side of Raja Yoga
 The word “Yoga” means “yoke or union” and the union applies to the body, mind and breath, bringing together in harmony so that during your lifetime you are able to guide your own destiny with a healthy mind, a flexible body and a steady breath in all conditions, and preparing the body and mind for dharana, dhyana and samadi.

The basis of today's Yoga is Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. (The Eight Limbs of Yoga)

  • Yamas       (these are five restraints – moral injunctions)
  • Nyamas     (these are five observances – positive qualities)
  • Asana        (Postures)
  • Pranyama  (Breathing and kriyas – purification practice)
  • Pratahara   (Withdrawl of the senses to still the mind)
  • Dharana     (Concentration)
  • Dhyana      (Meditation)
  • Samadhi    (Superconsciousness)

This yoga has been developed for Western bodies. Many interpretations have been passed down by Gurus, teachers and from students of yoga being taught through the centuries right up to the present day. For a more comprehensive list of the different yoga schools, click on this link: 

Copyright 2015 Gill Gibbens