We can divide the history of the practice of Yoga into two parts, first the past derived from the Hindu tradition, and the second, account based on research.
The history of Yoga is very long; we have written it here briefly. It is said that Yoga has been practiced in India continuously for about 15 thousand years.
Even before the age of civilizations, the sages developed the postures of Yoga by looking at animals and birds, and then in this way, many dimensions were added to Yoga.
History of Yoga based on Hindu Tradition
1. Hiranyagarbha Brahma preached Yoga first to the Sanakadikas, then to the Vivasvan Surya, Rudra. Later it was divided into two branches. One is Brahmayoga, and the other is Karmayoga.
2. The tradition of Brahmayoga was started by the Sanakas, Sanandanas, Sanatanas, Sanatkumars, Kapila, Asuris, Vodhu, Panchachashikh Naradas, and Shukadikas. This Brahma Yoga became famous among the people as Jnana Yoga, Adhyatma Yoga, and Sankhya Yoga.
3. The second tradition of Karmayoga is that of Vivasvan. Vivasvan preached Yoga to Vaivasvata Manu, Manu to Rishabhdev and Ikshvaku, Ikshvaku taught Yoga to the kings and subjects. Then sages Vashishtha and Vishwamitra gave this knowledge to Lord Shri Ram.
4. The gurus like Maharishi Sandipani, Vedavyas, Gargamuni, Ghor Angiras, Neminath, etc., gave this knowledge obtained from Lord Krishna’s tradition Shri Krishna gave it to Arjuna.
5. This knowledge of Yoga was later expanded by Lord Mahavir Swami as Panch Mahavrata and Gautam Buddha by the name of the eightfold path.
6. From tradition itself, this knowledge was propagated by Maharishi Patanjali through Yogasutra and Adi Shankaracharya through Vedanta.
7. This knowledge was later carried forward by the tradition of 84 Naths named Hatha Yoga, whose chief yogis were Guru Matsyendranath and Guru Gorakhnath.
8. According to Shaivite tradition, Yoga begins with Adidev Shiva. Shiva gave the first education of Yoga to his wife, Parvati.
9. Shiva gave his second education on the banks of Kanti Sarovar in Kedarnath to his first seven disciples, who are called Saptarishi.
10.The yoga tradition of Lord Shiva was carried forward by his disciples Brihaspati, Vishalaksha Shiva, Shukra, Sahasraksha, Mahendra, Prachetas Manu, Bharadwaja, Agastya Muni, Gaurashirish Muni, Nandi, Kartikeya, Bhairavnath, etc.
11. Guru Dattatreya was the most excellent guru of Yoga after Lord Shiva. The tradition of Adi Shankaracharya and Gorakhnath begins later in the yoga tradition of Guru Dattatreya.
12. In the tradition of Guru Gorakhnath’s 84 Siddhas and Navnath, many great saints carried forward Yoga in the medieval period. From Sant Gogadevji, Ramsapir, Sant Dnyaneshwar, Ravidasji Maharaj to Paramahansa Yogananda, Ramana Maharishi, and Swami Vivekananda, there have been thousands of yogis who have contributed to the development of Yoga.
Research-Based History of Yoga
1. Yoga during the time of Shri Ram: According to new research, Lord Shri Ram was born in 5114 BC. At that time, Maharishi Vashistha, Vishwamitra, and Valmikiji used to teach Yoga to the people.
2. Yoga in the era of Shri Krishna: According to new research, Lord Shri Krishna was born in 3112 BC. He taught Yoga to Arjuna.
3. Yoga in Indus Valley Civilization Period: Authentic depiction of yoga practice is found in seals and sculptures from the time of Indus Valley Civilization around 3000 AD. Apart from this, the signs of yoga asanas are still engraved on India’s ancient caves, temples, and monuments.
4. Yoga in the Rigveda period: The first book of the world, ‘Rigveda’, mentions yogic actions. The Vedas were written in 1500 BC after thousands of years of oral tradition.
5. Yoga during the time of Mahavir Swami: Lord Mahavir Swami was born in 599 AD. He propounded the principle of Panch Mahavrat based on Yoga.
6. Yoga in the Buddhist period: Lord Buddha was born in 483 AD. He had created the Eightfold Path based on Yoga.
7. Yoga during the time of Adi Shankaracharya: According to Math tradition, Adi Shankaracharya was born in 508 BC and died in 474 BC. According to historians, he was born in 788 AD and died in 820 AD. From him, a new tradition of Yoga begins.
8. Yoga during the period of Maharishi Patanjali: Maharishi Patanjali wrote the authoritative text of Yoga, ‘Yogasutra,’ in 200 AD. Later yoga teachers have written many commentaries on the Yoga Sutras.
9. Yoga in 13 Akharas of Hindu ascetics: In the year 660 AD, the first Avahan Akhara was established. There is mention of the establishment of Atal Akhara in 760, Mahanirvani Akhara in 862, Anand Akhara in 969, Niranjani Akhara in 1017, and finally Juna Akhara in 1259.
10.Yoga during the time of Guru Gorakhnath: After the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Guru Gorakhnath wrote the most popular book called ‘Hatha Yoga Pradipika.’ The oldest manuscript found in this text is from the 15th century.
11. Yoga in Medieval Period: In the tradition of 84 Siddhas and Navnath of Guru Gorakhnath, many great saints took Yoga forward in the medieval period.
There have been thousands from Sant Gogadevji, Ramsapir, Sant Dnyaneshwar, Ravidasji Maharaj to Paramahansa Yogananda, Ramana Maharishi, and Vivekananda of yogis who have contributed to the development of Yoga.