Although the precise history of yoga is difficult to determine, there is evidence available that the foundations of yoga were laid approximately 5,000 years ago. Yoga is an ancient practice that many people across the world have integrated into their lives.
In recent times, many Western individuals have realized the true benefits of yoga and it has never been more popular.
This article will explore the early history of yoga, the modern history of yoga, and then will conclude with research concerning yoga and overall wellness. Learn more about the history of yoga below.
Early History of Yoga
As mentioned, the early history of yoga is somewhat difficult to determine. However, what is known about the early origins of yoga is that it originated in ancient India through the Ascetic and Sramana movements around 600 BC.
The Yoga Sūtras of Patanjali, the Yoga-Yajnavalkya, the Yogacarabhumi-Sastra, and the Visuddhimagga are all considered important pieces of text in terms of the foundations, methods, and practice of yoga.
Yoga was originally designed to form a synergy between the "lower and higher self" as well as aligning other philosophical ideologies. These ideologies include non-violence, a reflection of self, truthfulness, meditation, and cleanliness of mind and body, just to name a few.
During the Middle Ages (500-1500 AD), the original yoga philosophy was adapted into different forms of YOGA that we still see today. This was due to the increased travel of explorers and the increase in trade between sovereign nations or tribes. Yoga found its way into non-Hindu religions such as Buddhism and Sikhism and thrived.
The Modern History of Yoga
Yoga was introduced on a wide-scale to Western nations in the late 19th century. Important trade routes crossed India, China, and Southeastern Asian countries which allowed travelers to move around the world more freely.
Swami Vivekananda is widely credited with adapting and introducing yoga to a wide Western audience in the later 19th and early 20th Centuries. He is also credited with bringing worldwide awareness to Hinduism and interfaith awareness. Swami Vivekananda traveled widely from 1893-1897 and visited countries such as Canada, China, Japan, and the United States. He published an incredibly influential book in 1896, called Raja Yoga, which is considered one of the most important texts in the Western understanding of Yoga.
Indian Yoga and Western Yoga can be differentiated by how yoga has developed into a stress-relieving, posture-based exercise with less spiritual connotations outside its country of origin. Indian yoga, in contrast, serves as a vessel for a meditative and spiritual practice that has importance within the Hindu religion. Other types of yoga, not originally from the Hindu religion, have also become popular in North America and other Western societies.
How Does Yoga Benefit Wellness?
Yoga, health, wellness have been linked for hundreds of years.
A study entitled Yoga in the Workplace: A Systematic Review, claims that "a company that allowed or planned a randomized controlled trial of yoga at work is interested in reducing stress levels, increasing job satisfaction and productivity; in consequence, it could be a place with a lower stress environment", (2019).
Corporate Wellness Magazine highlights a Harvard case study concerning major conglomerate Johnson & Johnson that states: "Johnson & Johnson found that the return on their wellness programs have been $2.71 for every dollar spent, resulting in cumulative savings of $250 million on health care costs for the company over the past decade" (Harvard Business Review: 2010).
In yet another study, from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, exercise was highlighted as a major factor in their productivity and problem-solving. The study claimed, "critically, workers performed significantly better on exercise days and across all three areas we measured, known as mental-interpersonal, output and time demands.”
Integrating yoga into a corporate wellness, or personal fitness, routine is simple, effective, and the results are backed up with academic studies. Learn more about how to implement a corporate wellness program by clicking here.
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Yoga in the workplace and health outcomes: a systematic review from https://academic.oup.com/occmed/article-abstract/69/3/195/5382477?redirectedFrom=fulltext