YOG

There are about 84 million postures and these include the pattern of sitting of different species which are known as Asanas. In the beginning the postures which were used for prolonged sitting performing the spiritual practices like Sandhya, meditation, pooja and fire ceremony were known as Asanas. The mythological root of yoga asanas can be traced to Lord Shiva who is said to be seated in the yogic pose (padmasana). As far as written evidences are concerned, asanas had been explained by Patanjali while discussing the Bahiranga Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga for the first time. Yoga insists on the primary need for day-to-day good health. This has to be achieved through physical education which, in turn, promotes moral and mental discipline and psychic absoluteness. Asanas are instrumental in achieving this end. It begins with postural training and rhythmic breathing associated with preventive measures and autotherapy or the process of nerve purification. There are numerous kinds of asanas or poses that can be grouped under Meditative and Cultural poses.

The history of yoga in India can be divided into three eras: Pre-Classical, Classical and Post Classical. Yoga can be easily said to have its origin in Shramanic and Upanishadic traditions. There are several historical sources that trace the existence of yoga to Indus Valley civilisation as well. Seals bearing the image of a figure seating in a yogic pose were excavated from Mohenjo daro. However, written evidences are only found in the Vedas. Probably it is the Rig Veda which, for the first time mentions yoga. Yajur Ved, Atharv Ved and the later Satapath also discuss yoga. Karma Yoga, one of its branches, is to be found in the Lord Krishna's divine discourse in Bhagawat Gita.

Asana have been used for thousands of years in the practice of meditation. Cave drawings from around 3000 B.C. depict people in the lotus asan. However it was in the Classical age yoga was systematically compiled by Maharishi Patanjali for the first time in 5th century BC. He simplified the concepts and principles of yoga so that it could reach out to the masses as well. The traditions of yoga developed further in the Post Classical era. During this period Samhitas, religious works of the Vaishanava sect and others mention this ancient Indian discipline.