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Many people have heard or at least have some idea about Yoga. So, what is yoga? This is basically a mental, physical and spiritual discipline exercise. There are very many schools goals and practices in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. All the same, Raja Yoga and Hatha Yoga are the most common.

Where it started

Yoga can be traced back to the time before Vedic Indian conventions although major developments took place during the 5th and 6th centuries BCE mainly during the ascetic circles of ancient India characterized with the prehistoric sramana movements.

The account of the first tests used to define the practices in yoga is not well documented. It has varyingly been linked with Buddhist Pali Canon and the Hindu Upanishads possibly during the 3rd century BCE or years after that.

Another notable aspect relating to yoga is the “Yoga sutras of Patanjali” during the first half of the first millennium CE. It is notably one of the main surviving main texts connoting Yoga practices. Texts for Hatha yoga came to existence in the eleventh century CE. It was much related to Tantrism especially in its origins.

Developments and its use

Gurus of yoga from India later took yoga to the west after the resounding success of Swami Vivekananda towards the end of the 19th century and in the start of the 20th century. During the 80s, yoga grew in popularity as a manner of doing physical exercises across the western community. However, yoga was something of high value than just mere physical exercises in the Indian traditions.

Most importantly, the founders of Yoga used it as a spiritual and meditative core. One of the well-established orthodox schools in Hinduism is also known as Yoga having its own metaphysics and epistemology and is closely linked to Hindu Samkhya Philosophy.

A lot of studies have endeavored to establish the effectiveness of yoga as a modern intervention for various health complications such as asthma, cancer, heart disease and schizophrenia. The studies have produced inconclusive and mixed findings. More especially, cancer studies have suggested almost none to uncertain effectiveness while others making a suggestion that yoga could reduce risk factors and help in the psychological healing process of a patient.

Yoga is indeed a great discipline and despite its varied use, it has increasingly grown in popularity. There are a lot of positive gains that have been realized by those who practice yoga. The benefits have reached far and wide and it is likely that its popularity will continue to grow even in the future.