“Yoga is a light, which once lit will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter your flame.” — B.K.S. Iyengar

Understanding the Spiritual India can only happen by learning Yoga. The relationship between Yoga and Indian Culture is believed to be 5000 years old. Yoga has been greatly associated with the culture and heritage of India.

In Yoga, the discipline for the mind comes from meditation and the body is aligned and strengthened. Yoga firmly believes that the nervous system is pivotal in a human body thus, daily Yoga helps in keeping the mind and body calm and sound.

The origin of Yoga is considered to be as old as human civilization though there is no concrete evidence. Many western scholars have stated that Yoga came into existence during the period of Buddha (500 B.C.).

Even during the excavation of the earliest known civilization of Indus Valley, many soapstone seals existed with figures like Yogi sitting in a Yoga-like posture engraved on it. It is safe to say that Yoga started for the betterment of us, the betterment of mankind and society.


Vedic Yoga

It is believed that according to Vedas, Vedic Yoga is the origin of Yoga in India. Vedic Yoga are the oldest known Yoga teachings, also known as ‘Archaic Yoga’. It can be found in these four Vedas: Rig-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda, and Atharva-Veda. The practices and rituals related to the Vedic Yoga is said to be created in order to beat and overcome the restrictions or limitations of the mind. During that period, Yoga was closely associated with the ritual part of the people’s lives.

The main agenda was related to the connection with the invisible world and detachment or sacrifice of the self. For decades, meditation was done on a single or a similar object. Therefore, Vedic Yoga is said to be the root of Yoga. The one who mastered it was known as a ‘seer’ or ‘Rishi’ in Sanskrit.

Pre-Classical Yoga

With the creation of Upanishads, came the period of Pre-Classical Yoga. This lasted until 2nd century A.D. and covered 2000 years. There are many forms of Pre-classical Yoga that existed though the initial forms are related to the Vedic Yoga.

There are three subjects covered in Upanishads – Truth (Brahman), The Transcendental Self (Atman) and their connection along with the teachings of Vedas. The significant holy book of Hindus ‘The Bhagavad-Gita’ is one of the finest Yoga scriptures of this period. Ramayana and Mahabharata too consisted of Yoga.

Pre-Classical Yoga consisted of various techniques of meditation that were deep and helped connect with the divine powers to discover the true self by surpassing the body and mind. Yoga of this period is connected with both Hinduism and Buddhism as Lord Buddha had started teaching the importance of meditation by the sixth century B.C.

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Classical Yoga

Patanjali’s ‘Yoga Sutra’ that was written around 2nd century marked the creation of Classical Yoga. ‘Sutra’ means ‘Thread’ and in this context, it meant ‘thread of memory’. Under this, the students of Patanjali retained knowledge and wisdom of Patanjali. There 195 aphorisms or sutras that constitutes the eightfold path of Yoga.

The eightfold path consists of: Yama (Ethical Values), Niyama (Personal Observance of Purity), Asanas (Physical Exercises), Pratyahara (Preparation for Meditation), Dharana (Concentration), Dhyana (Meditation), and Samadhi (Ecstasy). The belief of Patanjali stated that ‘each individual is made up of matter (Prakriti) and spirit (Purusha) and it can only be detached through yoga and the spirit can be restored in its authentic and purest form.

Post-Classical Yoga

Post Classical Yoga consisted of all schools that came into existence post Patanjali Yoga-Sutra. This period focused on the present. Unlike the Classical Yoga, the main theme or foundation is the ultimate unity of everything. Yoga took a compelling twist during this time when the hidden potentials of the body was explored. This led to the creation of ‘Hatha-Yoga’ which is considered to be an amateur version of present Yoga.

Modern Yoga

The period of Modern Yoga came into existence and began with the Parliament of Religion that was held in Chicago in 1893. It was then when the young Swami Vivekananda made an ever-lasting impression on the American Public. He attracted the students of Vedanta and Yoga.

Paramahansa Yogananda is another popular name, a popular Yoga teacher after him who spread the knowledge and practices of Yoga in the world. Presently, Swami Ramdev of Patanjali Yoga Peeth Trust is spreading the awareness about Yoga.

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Educational Opportunities in Yoga

Educational Opportunities in Yoga

Indian Colleges Offering Courses in Yoga

Diploma and PGD Courses:

  1. Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, Pondicherry

Post Graduate Diploma in Yoga Therapy

  • Dr DY Patil University, Navi Mumbai

Diploma in Yogic Science

  • YBN University, Ranchi

Diploma in Yoga

  • Indira Gandhi Technological and Medical Sciences University, Ziro

Diploma in Yoga Therapy

  • Maharishi Arvind University, Jaipur

Diploma in Yoga Science

  • Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar

Diploma in Naturopathy and Yoga

  • Madhav University, Sirohi

Diploma in Yoga and Naturopathy

  • Apex Professional University, Pasighat

Diploma in Yoga Instructor

  • Apex University, Jaipur

Diploma in Naturopathy and Yoga

  1. Sri Sankara School of Management and Computer Science, Trichy

PGD Yoga and Naturopathy

  1. Khalsa College for Women, Ludhiana

Diploma in Yoga and Physiotherapy

  1. Aditya Yoga Naturopathy Hospital and Research Institute, Kiccha

Diploma in Yogic Science

BNYS – Bachelor of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences

  1. Jayoti Vidyapeeth Women’s University, Jaipur
  2. G Madegowda Institute of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences, Mandya

MD Courses:

  1. Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University, Kanpur

MD Swasthavrita Avam Yoga

  • Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, Bangalore

MD Yoga

  • Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara College of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences, Ujire

MD Clinical Yoga

  • CMJ University, Shillong

MD Yoga and Naturopathy

  • Maharishi Aurobindo Subharti Institute of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences, Meerut

MD Yoga

  • Indira Gandhi Technological and Medical Sciences University, Ziro

MD Yoga

MS Course:

  1. Chhatrapti Shahu Ji Maharaj University, Kanpur

MS Asthi Sandhi Marmagat Yoga

Ph.D. Courses:

  1. Sri Dharamasthala Manjunatheshwara College of Naturopathy and Yogic sciences, Ujire

Ph.D. Naturopathy and Yoga

  • Apex Professional University, Pasighat

Ph.D. Yoga

Top Yoga Ashrams in India

Top Yoga Ashrams in India
  1. Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram & Retreat Centre, Rishikesh

Located in Tapovan – Rishikesh, the Ashram brings the concept of east-meets-west retreat for yoga enthusiasts around the world. It is stated as the gateway to Himalayas and is surrounded by mountains on three sides and is located above the banks of Ganges.

They provide facilities like yoga halls, library, guest rooms along with laundry and wi-fi facilities with timings. They also conduct various events, offline, and online classes.

It is truly a nurturing sanctuary for Yoga Enthusiasts!

2. Art of Living International Centre, Bangalore

The ashram was built in 1986 and believes in blending the old and new and apart from offering pleasant meditative walks, they have various courses that helps you connect with yourself.

It is located 21 kms south of Bangalore in rural Karnataka. They conduct various events across the country and also have trainings and practice groups.

Want to know how to reconnect and find the happiness again: they have the solutions ready for you!

3. Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute, Mysore

K. Pattabhi Jois developed Ashtanga Yoga, which became a world-wide phenomenon. It is situated in beautiful Mysore, which is also a yoga centre. It is advised to pre-register for these courses as they fill up quickly.

They offer ‘teacher training courses’ in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and Hatha Yoga along with short-term courses customised according to your requirements. It not only helps in bringing together the harmony between mind, body, and soul but improves and deepens the practice and knowledge that helps in teaching others better.

Find their next program dates and schedule on their website!

4. Auroville, Tamil Nadu

Sri Aurobindo and his spiritual partner, The Mother, are considered chief spiritual figures of the 20th century in India. The Mother recognised Auroville as an experimental, world community. Set among lush palm groves and white sand beaches north of Pondicherry, there are many accommodation options and courses available.

You can be part of volunteering and be interns there. They offer various workshops and therapies along with their own created products.

Their dream? ‘Envisioning an ideal society’

5. Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, Chennai

Krishnamacharya was considered to be the guru of gurus (Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois, were among his learners) This teaching centre is highly regarded and is perhaps the best place to learn therapeutic yoga. It is located in an urban area of Chennai, India’s fourth largest city (formerly called Madras).

They offer a number of programmes and workshops focusing on specific aspects of Yoga such as philosophy, asana, pranayama, meditation, and yoga therapeutics. You can also enroll for teacher training programmes in yoga, healing chants, and yoga therapy.

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Top 5 Yoga Books to Read

Top 5 Yoga Books to Read
  1. Light on Yoga by B.KS. Iyengar

The Bible of Modern Yoga gets you into Iyengar’s mind and his Yoga and you can turn to time and time again for years to come. The book offers comprehensive introduction to Yoga with 200 yoga poses (asanas) and 14 breathing exercises (pranayama’s).

It was first published in 1966, he properly explained how one can achieve a balance between the both sides of the body through continuous practice of Yoga.

His book has helped many beginners to start and practice Yoga on a regular basis.

2. Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

First published in 1946, the book was the first of its kind as it was written by the well-known Indian Yogi – Paramahansa Yogananda for yogis. The book has been translated many times and is a spiritual classic till date.

The book contains everything right from exploration to the depths of Hinduism to the spiritual aspect of India and various supported philosophies. It is considered to be remarkable documentation which released in western countries.

3. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Sri Swami Satchidananda

The book is a collection of Sanskrit sutras based on the theory and practice of Yoga with 195 sutras and 196 sutras respectively. These sutras were compiled in the early centuries.

Yoga Sutras are best known for its reference to ashtanga that incorporates eight elements leading to ‘samadhi’.

4. Prana and Pranayama by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

He is the successor of founder of ‘Satyananda Yoga’ – Satyananda Saraswati.

This particular form of Yoga focusses and emphasises on ‘Internal Yoga’. Upanishads clearly states ‘Prana’ as a vital force and ‘Pranayama’ as the pause in the movement of inhalation and exhalation of breathing. The art of Pranayama has been known for more than 4000 years.

Swami Saraswati in the book has explained how the practice of Pranayama can bring in harmony, influence the direction and flow of energy through all the chakras.

5. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga by Deepak Chopra & David Simon

The book sheds light on the seven spiritual laws of Yoga based on the laws of nature which is applied to human experience.

The book is for everyone, whether you have just started your yoga journey or are an expert practitioner because it gives a deeper understanding of the spiritual dimension of yoga.

The book also helps encourage take a path to enlightenment through breathing exercises, yoga poses, mantra chanting, and meditation techniques.

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Top Movies to Watch on Yoga

Top Movies to Watch on Yoga
  1. Kumare

This is an all-time favourite documentary about the myths and nuances of gurus. It tells the story of a prank that turns into reality and the turmoil it causes and the unconventional ways life can teach us lessons and enlighten our minds.

It was premiered at the 2011 South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW) and it received ‘Feature Film Audience Award’ for ‘Best Documentary Feature’ and enjoyed fair reviews.

2. Awake: The Life of Yogananda

If you want to watch only one movie ever about yoga, it should be this one. A biography about the Hindu Swami who introduced yoga and meditation to the West in the 1920s, the movie will keep you intrigued till the very end.

Released in 2014, this unconventional autobiography examines the world of yoga, explores both the sides of east and west, and explores why millions of people have changed their direction towards Self-Realisation.

3. On Yoga: The Architecture of Peace

Adapted from the story of photographer Michael O’Neill’s book of the same name, this documentary studies the author’s 10-year journey through the development of yoga.

This 2017 release shows the conversation of the author with yoga masters of India, Tibet, and New York.

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Top Free Yoga Apps

Top Free Yoga Apps

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  1. Universal Breathing: Pranayama

An app based on breathing help battle with anxiety, stress, and PTSD and keeps the blood pressure and heart rate in control and check. The app offers mindful breathing techniques with breathing courses ranging from beginners to advanced. It also offers different sound settings to help meditate.

2. Track Yoga

With easy-to-follow classes, Track Yoga is ideal for people who are figuring out their pace with the yoga workouts. They have customised series such as ‘Yoga for Depression’ and ‘Yoga for Flexibility’ etc.

You can level up by practicing daily and unlock new features to keep up with the consistency.

3. Glo Yoga and Meditation

The app is unique as it helps users to pair music with their yoga poses. Which means, it helps focus more and with different classes, you can specifically curate and prioritize the programs based on your needs and schedules.

It even offers various kinds of introductions to Pilates and meditation.

4. Down Dog

The app has its subscription plans though it also offers a free version for people looking for a steady routine.

Users have options when it comes to voices and languages. It includes visual instructions for practices of Vinyasa, Ashtanga, and Sun Salutation along with guide to full body workout.

5. 5 Minute Yoga

If you are the one who cannot spare a lot of time for yoga then 5 Minute Yoga app is the most suitable for you. It shares 5 simple postures everyday that is pre-set for 365 sessions.

It is great for beginners who are struggling to keep up with regularity in the practice and for people who cannot spare a lot of time.

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So here it is, the connection between Yoga and Indian Culture, its journey throughout different periods, and the modern association but what remains the same is the benefits of it – enlightening the mankind, enlightening the society.