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The Art of Yoga

The history of yoga can be traced back about 5,000 years, although some experts believe it may have been in existence for up to 10,000 years. Unfortunately, the early writings on yoga would have been transcribed on delicate palm leaves that have been destroyed or lost over the centuries, so our modern-day knowledge is limited.


Records show that yoga was developed by the Indus-Sarasvati people of India more than 5,000 years ago, as the word "yoga" was mentioned in the ancient sacred texts, the Rig Veda. Documents contained details of mantras, songs and rituals used by Vedic priests (the Brahmans).

The priests and the mystic seers, the Rishis, gradually developed yoga over the centuries and documented their practices in a book called the Upanishads, which contained more than 200 scriptures. The Bhagavad-Gîtâ is the most revered of the scriptures, dating from around 500 BC - it teaches karma yoga and jnana yoga.

Religious Links

The principles of yoga have always been closely linked to Eastern religions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism. Yoga was a mixture of several ideas until the second century AD, when Patanjali's Yoga-Sûtras defined the start of what was known as the classical period. His teachings describe Raja Yoga - a series of eight steps towards achieving Samadhi or enlightenment. Patanjali's Yoga-Sûtras have influenced most modern yoga styles.

The art of yoga continued to evolve in the post-classical era but it didn't permeate into the Western world until many centuries later. The emphasis in yoga progressed into practices that would rejuvenate the body and mind to achieve enlightenment.

Modern Yoga

Tantra yoga was developed, providing new techniques that explored the physical and spiritual connections. This evolved into body-centred practices and the creation of yoga as we know it in the Western world, Hatha yoga.

It was only in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that yoga masters travelled to the West, attracting followers. This began in 1893 when an Indian Hindu monk, Swami Vivekananda, attended the Parliament of Religions in Chicago to give lectures on yoga and the universality of religions.

Hatha yoga became popular in India in the 1920s and '30s, after the first Hatha Yoga school opened in Mysore in 1924 - and 12 years later, the Divine Life Society was founded on the banks of the Ganges River.

Principles of Yoga

Prolific author and Hindu spiritual teacher, Sivananda Saraswati (1867-1963) began writing about yoga and philosophy; completing more than 200 books, establishing nine ashrams (spiritual retreats) and numerous yoga centres around the world. He lived until the age of 96 - testament indeed to the benefits of yoga.

He also created a yogic system called the Five Principles of Yoga; which are relaxation (Savasana), exercise (Asanas), diet, breathing (Pranayama) and positive thoughts (Dhyana) - as well as practicing meditation.

Throughout the 20th century, yoga continued to grow in popularity, with one of Sivananda's disciples, Swami Satchitananda, arranging yogic chanting among thousands of concert-goers at the Woodstock music festival in the USA in 1969. Yogi Bhajan's Kundalini Yoga classes for Westerners in the 1970s are largely credited with its boom in popularity across America.

Famous Yoga Devotees

Today, there are many famous yoga devotees. David Beckham practices Bikram yoga; actress Jennifer Aniston; comedian and TV personality Russell Brand; singer Justin Timberlake; Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen; Maroon 5 vocalist Adam Levine; pop legend Madonna; actor Robert Downey Jr and singer Beyoncé, to name but a few.

Yoga is about your total wellbeing and with that in mind, Coruba stocks a range of rubber gym and studio matting to help you achieve all those poses. Beneficial for yoga classes, mats such as our slip-resistant pyramid pattern PVC matting or our hammered rubber gym mats will enhance safety and stability in workout areas.

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