Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India. Yoga is one of the six Āstika schools of Hindu philosophical traditions. There is a broad variety of yoga schools, practices, and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

This is only a small example of the powerful message that is contained in the seven week GAIA Healing Course.

We use of the 7 basic chakras as our guideline and the yoga positions that are connected to each chakra.

Click Here to book your seven week GAIA Deep Healing Meditation Course.

Yoga. We all know this term so well. It is so common in our vernacular that this Sanskrit word has been incorporated into English dictionaries.

The word yoga itself first appeared in writing in the ancient and sacred texts of Hinduism – the Vedas. Specifically, yoga first made an appearance in the Rig Veda, the oldest of these scriptures.

The word “yoga” itself comes from the root “yuj,” which means “to yoke.” Now this is no longer a word that is commonplace in the English language, so you might not catch its meaning at first glance.

Yoking was a practice used to connect and harness two animals. They would be “yoked” together (typically at their necks) to then be able to perform tasks (such as plowing a field). So, essentially, to yoke is to create a union, and this is typically how we hear yoga defined today.

Yoga is so old, that nobody knows exactly when it started. But, it began long ago when people started trying to understand what life was all about. Only a legend can give us an idea about the history of yoga.

According to the legend, Shiva was the first yogi. And many thousands of years ago, Shiva reached enlightenment in a place called Mount Kailash.

The story says that he had seven disciples who became known as the seven rishis. They are considered the founders of most spiritual traditions in the world.

No one can prove Shiva’s existence or if any of these stories are true.

Many scholars and yogis dispute the starting period of yoga and how it evolved. Often, it is believed that yoga dates back upwards of 5,000 years. Others believe it goes back more than 10,000 years.

But, don’t expect to find old paintings of yogis practicing Crow Pose. Yoga is not quite the same thing it is today that it was back then . . .

The only yoga position that existed more than a few centuries ago was Lotus Pose.

So if we want to gain a deeper, accurate understanding of the history of yoga, we can look to what is often referred to as “the bible of yoga” for insight. The Bhagavad Gita (which literally translates to “the song of the lord”) is a scripture of yogic philosophy written between 400 BC and 200 CE.

Yoga is not quite the same thing it is today that it was back then.

It is a sacred text that focuses entirely on the practice of yoga. But don’t be fooled by that! The practice was not all Up Dogs and Handstands back in the day. This practice was entirely spiritual.

The Bhagavad Gita is an epic poem that takes place on a battlefield. Shocking, right? Not your typical setting for peace, love, and happiness yogis! But this setting is often believed to be a metaphor for the “battlefield of the mind.”

Want to learn more about the Bhagavad Gita?

Here are 3 Seriously Relevant Life Lessons We Can Learn from the Bhagavad Gita

Throughout the epic poem, there is a classical yoga teaching set-up. A guru (which literally translates as “to lead from darkness to light” – AKA a spiritual teacher) discusses life and yogic philosophy with his pupil.

Click here to see the Eight Limbs of Yoga Meditation


The Bhagavad Gita Explains Three Paths:

The “Bible of yoga,” or The Bhagavad Gita, was the first spiritual text to declare that anyone could be enlightened. In it, the guru (Krishna) lays out three specific margas (or paths) of yoga.

Each path is unique but they all lead to one ultimate goal: enlightenment. Enlightenment is the true essence and origin of yoga.

1. Bhakti Yoga

This is the path of the heart. It is pure love and devotion. By faithfully and devotedly loving all beings and following the eternal creator, you can reach enlightenment via this path.

2. Jnana Yoga

This is the path of the intellect. It is the way of knowledge and wisdom. Studying ancient scriptures and keenly studying yourself through the practices of self-contemplation and meditation are said to lead you to enlightenment via this path.

3. Karma Yoga

This is the path of work. It is all about selfless service and action. To follow this path, you must devote yourself to your dharma (your ultimate purpose in the world) and unwaveringly fulfill this purpose.

Curious about the concept of dharma? Learn more about this Hindu and Buddhist principle:

How the Buddhist Concept of Dharma Can End All Your Suffering

From There, Other Paths of Yoga Began to Emerge:

After The Bhagavad Gita, many other sacred texts arose from the yogic tradition.

Raja Yoga

The Yoga Sutras where also written between 400 BC and 200 BC by Patanjali, and this book became a big player in the yoga scene.

It was the first time in the history of yoga that the knowledge of this practice was compiled and organized in a comprehensive system.

In The Yoga Sutras, yoga was described as an eight-fold path to reach enlightenment. This path become known as the Raja Marga (or royal path), and this is the path of pure meditation or introspection.

Tantra Yoga

Many centuries after The Yoga Sutras, there was a group of yogis who lived in the forests that developed different ways to quiet the mind and realize the divine. This is when Tantra Yoga became a big player on the scene as well. And, despite what you may have heard, Tantra is not all about sex and orgies.

Tantra is about balancing our energies: male and female, hot and cold, internal and external. It is actually one of the closest forms of yoga that most of us practice today.

Tantra negated the long-held belief in yogic philosophy that the body was an obstacle to spiritual life, being “bad,” “dirty,” and “evil.” Tantric yogis believed that our bodies were the supreme, sacred, and ultimate vessels to enlightenment and therefore should be cherished just as highly as god.

In fact, Tantric yogis removed the idea that we were even separate from god. So this somewhat New Age idea that we are all one has its roots in Tantric Yoga. Also, the ideas of “energy bodies” (such as chakras) arose from Tantra.

Hatha Yoga

Because of Tantra’s emphasis on the body being a holy vessel, the art of caring for the body arose. The Tantric yogis were having a hard time trying to meditate more than 10 hours a day, so they had to find a solution.

They began to observe the movements of animals and nature. And they began to imitate them: stretching their backs like a cat or a dog, standing like a tree, and so on. And thus, Hatha Yoga was born. Once the body was stronger and healthier, they could go much deeper.

Hatha Yoga is the practice of physical yoga and this is definitely the closest branch to what most of us practice in our modern world.

Click here to go to History of Yoga Part 2 of 2


This is only a small example of the powerful message that is contained in the seven week GAIA Healing Course.

We use of the 7 basic chakras as our guideline and the yoga positions that are connected to each chakra.

Click Here to book your seven week GAIA Deep Healing Meditation Course.