What is Yoga?
Yoga is a mind and body practice with historical origins in ancient Indian philosophy. Various styles of yoga combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation.
There is no written record of the inventor of yoga apart from it originating in INDIA. Yogis (yoga practitioners) practiced yoga long before any written account of it came into existence. Yogis over the millennia passed down the discipline to their students, and many different schools of yoga developed as the practice widened in global reach and popularity.
India's ancient religious texts, gave birth to both the literature and the technique of yoga.
The "Yoga Sutra," a 2,000-year-old treatise on yogic philosophy by the Indian sage Patanjali is a type of guidebook that gives guidance on how to gain mastery over the mind and emotions and advice on spiritual growth, providing the framework upon which all yoga practiced today is based. The Yoga Sutra is the earliest written record of yoga and one of the oldest texts in existence.
The Sanskrit word "yoga" has several translations and can be interpreted in many ways. Many translations point toward translations of "to yoke," "join," or "concentrate" - essentially a means to unite or a method of discipline. A male who practices this discipline is called a yogi or yogin and a female practitioner is called a yogini.
The postures that are now an integral part of health and fitness in many centers around the world were not originally a dominant component of yoga traditions in India. Fitness was not a chief aim of practice; focus was placed on other practices like pranayama (expansion of the vital energy by means of breath), dharana (focus, or placement of the mental faculty), and nada (sound).
Yoga, in ancient times, was often referred to in terms of a tree with roots, trunk, branches, blossoms and fruits. Each branch of yoga has unique characteristics and represents a specific approach to life.
The six branches are:
Hatha YogaPhysical & Mental Branch
Involves Asana & Pranayama Practice
Preparing the Body & Mind
Raja YogaMeditation & Strict Adherence
to the "Eight Limbs of Yoga"