A BRIEF HISTORY OF YOGA
Written by Dee Oh (referencing Jennifer Fitzsimmons' Pathways Academy of Life Yoga Teacher Training and various other sources)
Yoga originates from India and has been in existence for around 5,000 years, thus being one of the longest standing tradition/ritual/practice in modern day. It was created during the Indus Valley Civilisation during the Vedic Period (around 2500 BC) by the Aryans. The Indus Valley Civilisation was one of the first civilisations on earth according to recorded history on earth. The creators of yoga were prosperous not only spiritually but in the material world too. Sanskrit was the language of the Aryans and became the original language of instruction for yoga, thus yoga terminology is in Sanskrit, although there has been wide translation of many terms into English and other languages.
Some Observed Controversial Issues with Yoga
As opposed to popular belief among many who practise yoga, especially in the commercial centres, yoga is not just a physical practice. In my own experience as a yoga practitioner, I have encountered many who have this misguided aim and focus in their practice of yoga as they fully focus themselves on working on the "Asanas" with emphasis on perfecting the poses and purifying their diet and nutrition with vegetarianism, cutting out alcohol and smoking from their lives while placing a far less emphasis, forgetting or even not being aware of the main goal of practising yoga, which is to attain harmonic union of the body, mind and spirit within and with the divine Creator and all beings in the universe.
With that said, the great emphasis on an Asana-focused yoga practice in modern culture is not to be undermined in its benefits for society and the promotion of yoga as a whole. As many people are more naturally drawn to introducing a physical practice in their lives for the sake of keeping fit, healthy and looking good, the Asana limb of yoga does play a huge part in drawing wide interest among the masses towards learning yoga. Further, even if one practises yoga that is predominately focussed on Asanas, their mindset and lifestyle are very likely to transform positively towards the ways of a yogi as I have previously experienced in my own personal practice of yoga where I found practising Asanas made me a calmer and more mindful person, helping me tremendously with coping with a highly stressful job and life whilst having clinical depression and anxiety.
Also, I have observed many yoga practitioners and yoga teachers placing a lot of emphasis on glorifying their yoga gurus and themselves as teachers, which is contradictory to the precept of equanimity whereby everyone is supposed to be equal. Many yoga practitioners and teachers end up encouraging idolatry of the teachers as a result of the overt projection and glorification of the yoga masters/gurus/teachers to the extent of creating new lineages of yoga under the name of the particular guru/master/teacher, which is quite unnecessary in my humble opinion, and the placing of the photographs of these gurus/masters/teachers as a worshipping item at their altar.
Yoga also instils in us a mindset and lifestyle of being thankful and grateful towards everything in life, including being thankful for our body, our breath and all the beautiful people and things that we are being blessed with in this life. Taking time during our yoga practice to give gratitude everyday in our Sadhana practice is necessary and helps us to have better perspective in life especially when faced with some difficulties.
Yoga to me is not a religion but rather a healthy and balanced way of life that is based on a systematic school on psychology, physiology and spirituality. Therefore, yoga can be practised hand in hand with any other religious beliefs as religion is a set of beliefs while spirituality is a way of life or system that enhances one's efforts to work towards a change within.
To get the full benefits of yoga, just like for anything else in life, we need to keep up with our regular practice.
YOGA AND OTHER RELIGIONS
As a religious Catholic and a practising yogi, I had faced issues with the controversies surrounding whether a Christina/Muslim/Jew and believers of any other religion should be practising yoga at the same time. From my personal experience, I have learned that yoga is a process that actually enhances my religious practice as a Catholic as it enables me to go deeper within myself through deep meditation, thus aiding me in gaining a closer connection with God/Christ. We are in control of our own thoughts and beliefs and when we are practising yoga and meditation in a spiritual way, our one point of awareness for concentration is up to us to decide. The God that we have in our mind and heart is the one that we personally believe in and no one can take that away from you through the practice of yoga.
Finding the right yoga teacher that is non-denominational and will not enforce his/her own beliefs in a particular way of worshipping God is important for you if you are from another faith. At Dee Dream Life, all our yoga classes are non-denominational and helps enhance your own connection to your own beliefs if you wish to treat your practice in a spiritual/religious way. The beauty of yoga is that anyone with any religious faith can use this process to help them to connect more deeply with their own faith and beliefs, be it Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, etc.
The other significant change of my view of yoga through this course is how it is life coaching in essence. I have been working on setting up my life coaching practice and this course has helped me by giving me a framework for me to work on my life coaching clients through all their issues holistically.
How yoga has changed my life?
Yoga is by far one of the most powerful tools to achieve a holistic health solution that I have experienced in my life. On a personal level, I have gained from the practice better control over my emotions, better handle of stress from work and life, a stronger physique, a more mindful way of life, higher energy levels, positivity and a strengthening of my can-do attitude, calmness, less flaring of my temper, strengthening of my joints and bones for preparation for other physical work, lower occurrence of illnesses and many more in my practice over 15 years as a devoted student and aspiring teacher.
I have become more conscious of my actions, thoughts and communication. Eating excessively has been a problem I have been dealing with almost all my life and I used to eat out of suppressing an emotion. This emotional eating would involve eating big bags of chips, lots of sugary snacks and just a large amount of food in general to make myself feel good whenever I was feeling upset, emotional, disappointed, stressed, anxious. With learning and gaining a deeper consciousness of my actions, I now eat more mindfully, meaning I eat more slowly and mindfully think of each bite of food that I take into my body. Eating is
I am a highly emotional person since young and was always having large upswings and downswings in life through the dualities. It was highly disruptive. My family, friends and people close to me in a professional or personal setting had to endure this often highly disruptive behaviour. With the active and regular practice of yoga, I aim to achieve a more healthy and balanced relationship with my family and loved ones.