Yoga has received a lot of attention recently in the fitness and exercise community as a trendy new workout plan. Images of the incredibly slim yet muscular “yoga bod” are splashed all over social media and news sites, and many celebrities endorse yoga as a quick way to lose weight and gain flexibility. With all the hype, it’s easy to forget that yoga is actually an ancient interdisciplinary practice that focuses on enriching the mind, body, and spirit.
There are many different kinds of yoga, the most well-known include Hatha, Ashtanga, and Birkram. Origins of the tradition can be traced back to sixth and seventh century India in both Hindu and Buddhist texts. The word “yoga” stems from the Verdic Sanskrit root “yuj,” meaning “to add,” “to attach,” and “to unite.” People who dedicate themselves seriously to the practice are called Yogis (men) or Yoginis (women).
Yoga has a rich history including many different variations over the past 5,000 years or so. The phases can be broken down into four periods:
2,500 to 3,500 years ago, a text called the Vedas formed the basis for Hinduism. Yogis tended towards solitary lives in the woods and focused on sharpening their minds through meditation. They believed this mental practice helped to endure physical struggles as well.
The Bhagavad Gita is the oldest yoga scripture and dates back to 500 BCE. This brought yoga to more people and helped to create a community mentality versus the more hermitlike practice of the yogis in the Vedic period.
Another text, the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, further outlines what the discipline of yoga entails. It outlines the Eightfold Path of yoga: how to relate to others, how to sit, breathe, withdraw, meditate, focus, concentrate, and enlighten. The physical poses are only provided as a vehicle to stretch the body and further enable the process of sitting to meditate for long periods of time.
Yoga has branched into the multifold techniques that we have access to today. It likely came to the U.S. long before the 1960s, but quickly gained popularity during that decade along with LSD and soul-searchers traveling to India in search of enlightenment. There is a greater focus on the physical aspect and some of the more spiritual attributes have been lost.
If you are one of the many people today who enjoy practicing yoga, check out some Orchid Alley looks for your next class. Whether it’s sitting to meditate, or sweating it out in a cotton tee, we’ve got your yoga booty covered!
Cover up in an anatomy inspired tee:
Into hot yoga? Try a tank:
Try a tote big enough for your mat and blocks:
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