The Story of Yoga: A Brief History and Introduction to the Yoga We Know and Love

More than 37 million people practice yoga in the United States. That number has nearly doubled since 2012 and is expected to hit 55 million by 2020. Clearly, yoga’s popularity is exploding as we soar into future.

Yet, for many, the history of yoga seems shrouded in mystery. Where did it come from? What was its original purpose? The Westernized version of yoga is quite different from its Eastern origins, focusing more on physical benefits. For Yogis in the East, it remains a core meditation and religious practice.

In today’s blog, we take a quick tour back in time to tell you the story of your favorite fitness discipline.

How It All Started

Yoga came into existence in India, around 3000 B.C. Stone carvings of yoga postures have been discovered in the Indus Valley, showing the importance of the practice to ancient people. Over time, Yoga became one of six major orthodox schools of Hinduism.

Originally developed to align the heart and soul on the path to enlightenment, the practical benefits of yoga were discovered a little later. After committing themselves to this spiritual practice, ancient people of India began to realize that yoga helped heal their physical side as well. This internal medicine is called pranayama. 

Through the last century, the West has begun to view yoga as an answer to aiding in the healing of aches and pains, arthritis, diabetes, high blood sugar, indigestion, and other maladies. As yoga has grown popular beyond its home of India, many sub-practices have developed from its original form.

Types of Yoga

Throughout Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, you’ll find a variety of yoga schools and practices. However, the most well-known types of yoga are Hatha yoga and Rāja yoga. Of these two main types, the most practiced variety in the Western Hemisphere is Hatha.

Hatha essentially is a broad term that refers to any yoga that teaches physical postures. Almost every yoga class you’ll encounter in the United States will be a version of Hatha yoga. Typically, if a class states “Hatha Yoga” you can expect a basic, gentle class, introducing you to the postures.

Specific types of classes that build on this Hatha foundation include:

Ashtanga – Ashtanga is based in ancient yoga teachings, but was popularized in the West by K. Pattabhi Jois in the 1970s. This heart-pumping style of yoga is similar to vinyasa, in that it aligns each movement with a breath. However, Ashtanga poses are always performed in the same order. Our Power Yoga class combines Ashtanga with Vinyasa, ensuring you get a sweaty cardio session.

Vinyasa – Also performed in a flowing style, where the breath partners every pose, Vinyasa is much more freestyle than Asthanga. “Vinyasa” is actually Sanskrit for a phrase that means “to place in a special way.” Intense like Ashtanga, you’ll get a good workout that challenges your physical fitness. You’ll also find that no two Vinyasa classes are the same, keeping you eager for what’s next in every session. Core Fusion also carries Vinyasa in our class schedule.

Restorative – Emphasizing yoga’s ability to relax your entire body and mind, restorative yoga is popular for those experiencing pain or stiffness. Restorative classes are also ideal for those who want to just relax and allow the stretch to heal them slowly from the inside out. Many classes include the use of bolsters, blankets, and blocks to help you optimize these passive poses. Check out our restorative class in our class descriptions.

At Core Fusion, we love sharing our versions of this ancient practice of health and being, along with telling the history of yoga. You’ll find that our multiple class offerings and friendly, well-educated instructors can put you on the path to your own person enlightenment. For information on signing up for different types of yoga, contct us today.