The word yoga is derived from ‘yuj-’ which means to “yoke”. It was used at first to mean the “yoking of horses”, which symbolised the poetic implication of yoking the Self in the light of spiritual dawn. (usually called the “bay/tawny horses” – hari-ashva in Rigveda). Thus, yoga is the art of yoking (attaching) yourself to the spiritual rays of the Dawn, the Uṣas, that are said to be facilitated by Indra or Brahmaṇaspati. The Indra, through his bay horses yoked to his vacoyuja (yoked with the word; word of the poet/devotee) viśvasammiśla (universally mingling) chariot, enters the mind of devotee in order to help him in his spiritual struggle.
Thus yoga is a spiritual activity, that promotes the spiritual journey of the self, through the self, to the self. So, in commemoration of International Day of Yoga on 21st June, here are some really interesting facts about Yoga.
1. The Rig Veda is the oldest known text in the world, dating back to 1500 B.C. or earlier . It is the first of the Vedas and contains thousands of hymns and Sanskrit mantras. The word Yoga appeared for the first time in Rig Veda.
2. Maharishi Patanjali is a yogi who is said to have lived some time during the 2nd century BCE. He is known for writing his treatise on Yoga, titled “Patanjali Yoga Sutra”.
3. Yoga Sutras refer to a collection of texts that were written by the sage, Patanjali, around 400 C.E. This collection contains a detailed guide of yoga that forms much of the basis of classical yoga philosophy and is made up of 196 sutras (“threads” or discourses).
The 196 sutras are compartmentalized into four topical books:
● Samadhi pada (what is yoga )
● Sadhana pada (how to achieve a yogic state)
● Vibhuti pada (benefits of regular yoga practice)
● Kaivalya pada (how to get freedom from suffering)
4. There are 84 classic Yoga Asanas. The Asana is one of the 8 limbs of Yoga.
5. Swami Vivekananda is said to be the greatest proponent of Yoga in the West. He played a key role in introducing the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world.
6. The Hindu mythology considers Shiva to be the Supreme Lord of Yoga. He is also known as the Adi Guru or First Guru and Adi Yogi or First Yogi. Lord Shiva is believed to have imparted the knowledge of Yoga to the Saptha Rishis (seven saints).
7. Doing yoga regularly can enhance the mood of a person. Breath indicates mood. Yoga primarily involves changing breathing patterns and inhaling and exhaling in rhythm with the postures. Breathing in patterns can help in changing the mood of a person and making them more content.
8. Yoga is believed to be able to increase one’s life span. Regular practice helps in expanding the lungs and benefits the heart. Thus, yoga practitioners live longer than those who do not.
9. In many parts of the world, nude yoga is also practiced. These practitioners believe that it deepens their yoga practice and encourages acceptance and love for their bodies, as well as building intimate bonds with people in their yoga community.
10. The first use of the word “yoga”, denoting the same meaning as the modern term, is in the Katha Upanishad, composed in around the 4th to 3rd century BCE.
11. Paramahansa Yogananda was an Indian yogi who taught Kriya Yoga around the globe.
12. B K S Iyengar is credited to be the foremost of the modern yoga teachers in the world.
13. Lenovo has a tablet named Yoga.
14. According to research, yoga improves social and occupational functioning in schizophrenic patients.
15. In May 2012, Guinness World Records awarded Porchon-Lynch as the world’s oldest yoga instructor at age 93. Tao Porchon-Lynch was an American yoga master who discovered yoga in 1926 when she was eight years old in India and studied with, among others, Sri Aurobindo, B.K.S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois, Swami Prabhavananda, and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
16. Ancient yogis used to believe that we only have a limited number of breaths in each life. Hence, in order to stretch your life out a little longer we should take slow and deep breaths.
17. The Indian Postal Service released a commemorative stamp on the occasion of the first International Yoga Day on June 21, 2015.
18. The 8 branches of Yoga are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyhara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi.
19. The Muslims in Malaysia are banned from practicing Yoga by the top Islamic body in Malaysia. This ban is not legally binding.
20. ‘Doga’ refers to yoga for Dogs. Doga is a practice started by Suzi Teitelman in New York in the year 2002. Dog owners practice Doga to secure a bond of friendship with their dogs.
Stay healthy, stay safe 🙂