Yoga is the journey of the Self, to the Self, through the Self.” The Bhagavad Gita
Let’s talk about yoga in Indian culture, shall we! Yoga is one of the ways that you get to understand and learn the spiritual India, and it is very well associated with the heritage and culture of the nation.
Yoga in Sanskrit means ‘to unite’. Yoga also describes how you should live your life in a healthy way. The mind is disciplined through the act of meditation in yoga, and the body is strengthened. According to yogic experts, it is actually the nervous system of our bodies that controls the health. And with daily yoga done, the nervous system is purified and kept healthy.
When we talk about the origin of yoga, it is said that the system is as old as the human civilization itself. However, there are no strong evidences to prove the same. Although there has been so much of research and work in this field, the origins of yoga per se have had no concrete proof yet. The belief is that yoga originated in India around 5000 years ago. But there are some schools of thought that believe it was 500 BC, around the time of Buddha that yoga came to be. When the earliest facts were being excavated from the Indus Valley, a lot of astonishing facts came forth. There are soapstone seals that existed during that period and were excavated, showing a yogi sitting in a posture that resembled a yoga pose. It is believed that yoga began earlier for the community at large, rather than for the individual self.
With the Parliament of Religions that was held in 1893 in Chicago, USA, modern yoga is believed to have begun. It was the then young Swami Vivekananda who made a very strong lasting impression on the Americans. It was he who attracted the students of Vedanta and yoga. Post him; there was another teacher who was equally popular, Paramahansa Yogananda, who brought more of the yoga concept to the west. In this day and age, it is Swami Ramdev of Patanjali Yoga Peeth Trust who has managed to bring yoga into every home in India and in the west as well. This is the answer to how many years has yoga been practiced in India.
In the modern times, a further push has been given to yoga. This has happened with the inauguration of the Lakulish Yoga University in Ahmedabad, India. This was done by the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, who now is the Prime Minister of India. The university is self-funded and a private one, which has had its support by the Surendra Nagar, based Life Mission Trust.
Yoga thus is an integral part of the Indian culture and there have been changes that have been seen in each period of its historical journey. Yoga is evolving furthermore and is never-ending, so be a part of this never-ending growth and learn yoga for the betterment of the mind, the body, and the soul.
There are very strong opinions on the study of yoga in India, and some may agree and others may not with the same. Yoga is part of the Indian culture and is one of the six schools of Hinduism too. It is said that you cannot separate yoga and India, because the latter gave birth to it. When attempts have been made to transfer yoga to the west, the essence of the same has been lost in translation. This is because yoga, when transferred to the west, became more focused on the physical practice of the system, the asanas and achievements.
There are many yoga ashrams in India that teach yoga to students, but most of them cater to Indians on a large part and hence may not be suitable for the western crowds. The major yoga ashrams to be found or the major yoga centers in India are the following;
Known as the yoga capital of the world, here you would find plenty of westerners flocking to learn yoga. There are many programs, ashrams, and yoga teacher training courses and retreats that happen here. Being
the hub of yoga, one can expect to immerse in the authentic teachings of yoga that trace back to its roots.
Talking about where did yoga originate? It is thought to have its origins in the Himalayas, and in places like Uttarkhand where Rishikesh is, yoga is still very strong. The more you go up into the hills, into places such as Uttarkashi, the more authentic it would be your experience of yoga.
When it comes to Mysore and yoga, we have the famous K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute here. Mysore is a charming small town in the state of Karnataka. There are many yoga centers here for one to choose from and there is a thriving yoga culture as well.
Home to the famous Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, it is one of the best and most genuine places to study yoga in the nation. You can do intensive courses here and you would be guided and trained by well-experienced yogis and therapists.
Although Goa is known more like a party place than a traditional yoga center, in recent times there have been yoga retreats in India that have come up here which caters to the demands of students.
Just like in Goa, there has been a yoga culture that has been created in the beautiful city of Dharamshala too with yoga retreats in India sprucing up everywhere.
There is no special clothing as such worn by Indians when practicing yoga. Most Indian clothes are made of cotton, and hence they are comfortable and cool. In hot and humid climes, such clothing is preferred. For yoga, you can wear clothes that are modest and loose. They can be bought from the markets in Rishikesh. It would be wise not to wear tight-fitting spandex yoga pants or skimpy tops while performing yoga and you would not be comfortable in them as well.
Yoga ashrams are peaceful and place where one would have a lot of solitude too. They are made in such a way so as to break you away from the hustle and bustle of city life. You get to break away from the responsibilities and the obligations of the world, and you get to connect with your inner self for the time being. This in the modern day is true luxury.
When looking to choose yoga teacher training in India, one must ensure the following at all times:
In a nutshell…
We hope this article provides you in-depth knowledge on yoga in Indian culture and more. If you have more information to share with us on the origin of yoga, the ashrams, and more, do write in. We would be glad to learn more from you.