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What is Yoga

Yoga is an ancient science of understanding the mechanism of your body. You may think of it as an instruction manual for the human marvel. With the deep understanding that there is a symbiotic relationship between the mind and body, yoga provides practices that allow training and developing the body and mind so as to break barriers of conditioning and end suffering.
Yoga has not only been used to alleviate suffering from chronic ailments but also provide a roadmap to mental health too.
Although many have often viewed Yoga as a religious practice. We like to think of it as a set of codes to enhance our physical abilities and calm our minds. This results in reduced stress levels, and improved flexibility, strength, and balance.

History of yoga

Yoga originated roughly 5000 years ago in India. The word ‘Yoga’ originates from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’ which means ‘Union’. It was first seen in the Vedic text ‘Rig-veda’. It was refined and developed by Rishis (sages) who documented their practices and beliefs in the Upanishads. The venerable sage Patanjali compiled the principles of yoga in the form of aphorisms called yoga sutras


Just as the meaning of the word ‘Yuj’ means ‘Union’, Yoga is all about connecting with the body, mind, and spirit to reach one’s fullest potential.

Yoga is thus not only related to physical poses and exercises but also an all-around and complete guide for human existence encompassing continuous self-development working at the various level of body, mind, emotion, and energy, leading to ultimate self-realization.

Patanjali who was the first to compile the essence of yoga in his yoga sutras propounds The Eight Limbs of Yoga as.

The 8 limbs

The Three Margas (Paths) of Yoga

The ancient masters realized that the main dimensions of human existence were the physical body, emotions, and intellect. Thus, the entire knowledge of yoga was categorized into three broad margas.

Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti or devotion stems to channelize the most powerful of human motivators namely emotions. The path of Bhakti yoga is the path of love and devotion which lies dormant in each one's heart veiled by layers of ignorance and suffering. Once the prominent emotions of love and devotion are evoked, all thoughts and actions can only be for the greater good.

Gyana Yoga

Gyana yoga is the path of knowledge and wisdom. It emphasizes the usage of the intellect rooted in wisdom. It is this path where the sharp intellect cuts through the false illusions of the limited ego, giving you better clarity to connect with the essence of the self within and disassociate from the external elements with reasoning.

Karma Yoga

The path of perfect action with the understanding of taking responsibility for one's actions as the means of creating the desired future. Karma yoga emphasizes the performance of actions without attachment to the outcome and directs to the path of selfless service for attaining the final goal of freedom, bliss, and equanimity.

Evolution of Yoga

Over the centuries different masters both traditional and contemporary have fine-tuned and adapted knowledge and practices to maintain relevance and increase its efficacy, each in turn giving their own unique innovation that either improves upon or caters to specific needs. This evolution has led to various schools and styles of yogic knowledge and practices which either distinguish themselves or project a different identity. Some of the widely known and practiced ones are listed below.

Ashtanga Yoga

Follows ancient teaching methods outlined as the 8 limbs propounded by Patanjali

Hatha Yoga

This stream of yoga caters to the body and teaches physical poses to cater to physical well-being and its undeniable influence on mental and emotional well-being.

Iyengar Yoga

Named after the founder of the style BKS Iyengar, this style of yoga focuses on finding the correct alignment of a pose with the help of props.

Kundalini Yoga

As the name suggests focuses on the activation of dormant energy called kundalini through a sequence of asanas, pranayama and meditation with the aim to release and flow through channels of energy flow called “Nadis” This flow of energy has both healing and empowering abilities which are sought to be activated.

Power Yoga

It was developed from the traditional Hatha Yoga to be an active and athletic form of yoga around the 1980s.  Unlike traditional Hatha yoga where the emphasis is on attaining perfection in a particular pose and maintaining it to get the benefit from it. Power yoga focuses more on the movements and the agility with which poses are performed.

Sivananda Yoga

With a five-point philosophy as its foundation Sivananda yoga believes maintaining proper breathing, relaxation, diet, exercise, and positive thinking work together to create a healthy yogic lifestyle.


Viniyoga is all about form over function, breathing and adapting to the exercise, repetition and holding, and the art and science of sequencing.

Yin Yoga

An active form of yoga, which focuses on holding static poses for long periods of time. It targets strengthening deep tissues, ligaments, joints, bones, and fascia.

Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga

These yoga poses have been specifically designed for pregnant women. It may help individuals achieve physical fitness after childbirth, and may also enhance health during pregnancy.

Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga classes allow you to rest and relax in only four or five basic postures using props such as blankets and cushions to drop into deep relaxation without exerting much effort.

Yoga Masters

Swami Kuvalayananda

Swami Kuvalaya Nanda, the founder of Kaivalya Dhama was a prominent researcher and yoga teacher. He was instrumental in propagating the scientific aspect of yoga to the common man through his journal Yoga Mimansa.  

Paramahansa Yogananda

In his own quest for enlightenment, the pioneering father of Yoga Paramhansa Yogananda has been instrumental in uplifting the lives of millions through his Kriya Yoga – a powerful meditation technique that aims to help spiritual seekers attain the peak of spiritual experience. 


Tirumalai Krishnamacharya

A yoga teacher, ayurvedic healer, and scholar, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya built his teachings around Patanjali’s Yoga sutras, emphasizing greatly on Asana and Pranayama. Being the founder of different styles and forms of yoga, he was considered the father of Modern-Day Yoga. 

B.K.S Iyengar

Padma Vibhushan Yogacharya B.K.S Iyengar was considered one of the foremost yoga gurus. His introduction of Hatha Yoga focusing on the correct alignment of the body and making use of belts, wooden blocks, and other props has been welcomed by millions of practitioners. 

Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Swami Sivanand Saraswati founded the Divine Life Society, dealing scientifically with all aspects of Yoga and Vedanta, Universal Religion, and Philosophy. He introduced the ‘Yoga of Synthesis’ – a balanced synergy of the ‘hand’, ‘head’ and ‘heart’ through the practice of Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. 

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Considered as Indian yoga guru and one of the principal scientists in the field of consciousness of modern times, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was the founder of the Transcendental Meditation technique and was also responsible for reviving the knowledge of consciousness enshrined in the Vedas in its intended form. 

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Aiming for a stress-free and a violence-free society, Padma Vibhushan Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of Art of Living has spearheaded an unprecedented worldwide movement globally through the practice of Sudarshan Kriya, a powerful breathing technique, empowering individuals to tackle challenges at global, national, community and individual levels. 

Swami Rama

A world leader in the field of yoga meditation, spirituality, and holistic health, the founder of Himalayan Institute Swami Rama was an Indian yoga guru who demonstrated the immense potential of the human being in mastering the otherwise unconscious abilities. His teachings have had a profound effect on the modern mind-body field of medicine, serving millions of spiritual aspirants. 


Jaggi Vasudev

Having gained a profound experience in mastering the mechanisms of life – an outcome of his profound experience on the Self, Padma Vibhushan Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s major contribution has been the transformational programs relevant to contemporary minds, touching millions of lives worldwide through his educational and spiritual activities.  

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