The history of yoga is based during the epoch of the Indus Valley civilization. The yoga exercises and philosophies are practiced by the Indus to instigate spiritual growth and awareness. The yogis promote inner unification with the finite jiva or transitory self and with the infinite Brahman or eternal self. Brahman is a name used by the Hindus to mean ‘God.’
Yogis usually believe that God co-exists with all of reality, manifesting itself to all living things that breathe life, from humans to flora and fauna. This belief is called pantheism which is the view that everything is God. Yoga views man’s problem and suffering in terms of ignorance. Human beings simply bound themselves to materialistic things and forgetting to serve God, the source of all things. That’s why humans need enlightenment or an experience of union with God.
Earliest archaeological evidence indicated Yoga’s existence and can be found in engraved stone seals which illustrate figures of yoga positions. The stone seals depict yoga’s existence dating around 3000 B.C. However, archaeologists and scholars, have reasons to suppose that yoga existed long before that and traced its origins in Stone Age Shamanism. Both shamanism and yoga have comparable characteristics predominantly in their efforts to polish the human condition at that time. Both methods aspire to treat community members and the practitioners act as chief religious mediators or gurus.
A number of steatite seals were unearthed at Indus Valley Civilization sites describing figures in a certain yoga position. These meditation-like postures are forms of ritual discipline, signifying an originator of yoga. There are particular figures that were discovered in the core of Mature Harappan relics that indicate Harappan devotion to ritual discipline and focus and that the yoga poses may have been used by both humans and their deities. Some type of link between the Indus Valley seals and later yoga and meditation practices is backed by many other researchers.
These archeological discoveries allow people to cogitate with some good reason that an ample range of yoga activities was already accepted by the pre-Aryan India people. A seal recently revealed in the Cholistan desert evidently depicts a “yogi”. The puzzling Indus Valley seal images display figures in a position known in hatha yoga as Mulabhandasana. The most commonly known of these images was named the Pashupati seal by John Marshall who uncovered the artifact and who believed that it represented a “proto-Shiva” figure.
The genesis of the 200-scriptured Upanishads describes the inner vision of reality ensuing from Brahman devotion. The Upanishads further elucidate the teachings of the Vedas. Yoga also shares some attributes not only with Hinduism but also with Buddhism as well. Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, studied yoga and obtained enlightenment at the age of 35.
Later, around 500 B.C., the Bhagavad-Gita or Lord’s Song was created and this is currently the oldest known yoga scripture. The Yoga Sutra, composed of 195 aphorisms or sutras, was written by Patanjali around the second century attempting to classify and even out yoga at that time. Then, yoga was introduced in the West during the early 19th century. It was first studied as part of Hindu Philosophy and began as a system for health and vegetarianism. During the 1960’s, Hindu gurus gave further details about the system of yoga and its philosophies.