Origin of Yoga and its connection with Buddhism
Nowadays, you can find yoga classes in nearly every city, and there are numerous online platforms that facilitate practicing yoga at home.
Yoga involves a combination of physical postures and breath work, which can be either static or flowing, slow or fast.
Table of Contents
Historical origins of Yoga
It is essential to understand the core essence and purpose of yoga and its historical origins.
In summary, the history of yoga and its spiritual evolution unfolds as follows:
- The Indus Civilization (3000 BC – 1300 BC): This ancient civilization hints at the early presence of yoga-like practices, as seen in archaeological findings.
- The Vedic Period (1750 BC – 600 BC): The Vedas, the oldest Sanskrit texts, emerge during the decline of the Indus Civilization. The Upanishads, a part of the Vedas, introduce yoga in the context of self-realization and unification with the cosmic principle, “brahman.”
- The Buddha (6th Century BC): The Buddha’s teachings in the post-Vedic period emphasize asceticism and philosophical exploration.
- Ashtanga Yoga: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (1st centuries AD) provide a structured path emphasizing moral conduct and meditation.
- Hatha Yoga: Hatha yoga, originating from Buddhist texts, centers on physical postures and breath control, sometimes focusing on developing superhuman powers (siddhis).
Attachment in Modern Yoga
In modern yoga, the focus is primarily on holding and varying physical postures while incorporating rhythmic breathing. Occasionally, short sessions of meditative practice are included, followed by a brief relaxation period.
Some yoga instructors, like Ahba, have pointed out that this type of yoga primarily serves as an energy exercise and carries the risk of attachment to this energy.
Concentration, a crucial element in the original yoga path towards ultimate liberation, is not adequately developed in this form of yoga.
Furthermore, there’s a potential danger of nurturing attachment to one’s physical body, leading to increased pride, arrogance, jealousy, constant comparison with others, and a certain harshness.
These factors can lead to deeper entanglement in the cycle of samsara.
Classical Yoga and Buddhism
In stark contrast with modern Yoga, the emphasis of classical yoga from ancient times was on meditation and renouncing worldly attachments, including one’s own body.
Interestingly, there’s a significant resemblance between classical yoga and Buddhism, especially in the path they follow and the tools used for spiritual progress. Nevertheless, there are underlying differences that highlight key Buddhist principles.
All of this makes it worthwhile to explore the relationship between yoga and Buddhism more deeply.
In summary, while modern yoga differs significantly from Buddhism, classical yoga aligns closely with Buddhist principles.
Those who wish to deepen their yoga practice beyond a mere fitness routine are advised to place greater emphasis on moral conduct and meditation, shifting their focus from the physical to the mental and spiritual aspects.