Facts about the Evolution of Yoga to Impress your Friends | Isha USA Blog | Be, Breathe, Blossom


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  1. A: It is very interesting to learn about the history of yoga and it seems that the background of how it came to be is very accessible, more so than many other spiritual practices, the idea seems always to be to share and teach the practice to everyone possible, regardless of class. The practice does not teach hierarchy, but allows anyone to try their chance at attaining higher levels of consciousness.

    B: I liked how open and accessible Patanjali’s teachings were I am interested to read on of the sutras and see how it “explodes” my present day life. I am interested in hos writing style and the fact that he kept it very dull and bland. I think this must be to avoid dogma and misunderstandings the way many people take the metaphorical nature of the bible’s teachings literally rather than figuratively. With him there are less misunderstandings.

    C:The book Sidhartha was actually my first introduction into buddhist philosophy or an interest in enlightenment. Again, the running thread here is accessibility. Every one is looking to eliminate suffering from their lives, most just don’t know how to do it. It is really incredible that Siddhartha existed so long ago and yet is still making an impact and teaching people today how to reach the path to enlightenment.

    D: This week I continued to practice my Isha Kriya, I practice once a day, although I found I was very distracted this week with a new job and having a hard time focusing. Often as I am settling into a state of concentration, a thought pops up of something I really need to be doing and I break the meditation and go to do it. Also I work in new york city and I find it impossible to concentrate on the isha kriya on the train or most places because they are so busy and filled with activity. I have to really work to find quiet, free time to practice.

  2. I found these articles fascinating and they present a way of life and perspective that is so much different from the culture that I live in. It is a much more interconnected world that the history of yoga presents. I am interested to know more about the way celestial events are connected to the spiritual practice of yoga, as the cycle of the moon is mentioned throughout the articles. For example, Buddha was reach a fully enlightened state at the time of the full moon. Although this was not part of the required reading, I am fascinated by the siddha mystics who achieved mastery over healing herbs and minerals through not learning, but through inner experience using meditation. I really enjoyed the definition of intimacy as “there is no resistance; this person is absolutely open to whatever is being offered.” This seems like such a beautiful openness that you can achieve with another person.

    I’ve only done the Isha Kriya 3 times this week, as I’ve had an especially busy week, but really hope to reach the goal of 5 times next week. As I’ve written before, I mediate before bed. Before I go to bed, I’ve gotten in the habit of taking a hot shower and telling my self positive thoughts and what I am thankful for. The Isha Kriya process is such a nice addition to this habit as it slows down my breathing and relaxes me before I go to sleep.

  3. A) I found it so fascinating the humble beginnings of Yoga and where and how it was developed and some 40,000 years ago the first Yogi came about. According to the article it stated that people noticed Shiva the Adi Yogi experiencing something unfathomable, which is interesting because they soon became interested in what he was doing that they wanted to receive some portion of it. I like that he actually and genuinely wanted it to spread across the globe and not just kept as this “secret experience” in a box.

    B) Wow the last sentence explaining the sutra was the most definitive for me out of this whole article. To think that Patanjali’s brilliance was undermined because of the intricacies of his thought is disappointing. His first sutra, “And now, yoga…” concept was so simple in that he wants people to not have things in life define you. Whether it be material things, relationships or events emotions, they should never be your only fulfilment but an addition to you already being fulfilled in life.

    C) The article of Sidartha just renders the terms determination and strong will. It’s really encouraging to hear how this man deprived of food and nutrients stuck in an river and holding on to a branch for dear life can decide to make a change just on the switch of his thoughts in his mind.

    D) I have not been very successful with the Isha Kriya this week as I suffered a foot injury which caused slot of pain so limited my accessibility to practice the mediation. I have only successfully done the meditation two times this week as I literally could not sit still for the ten minutes. I honestly felt no change or difference this week maybe because of my injury and I was more concentrated on my pain and trying to ease it than completely staying focused. As my foot completely heals hopefully I can fully meditate and concentrate again going forward.

  4. Part A: I enjoyed reading this passage. I think anyone who practices yoga should understand the background of it. When people group yoga with new age practices for exercise, they are forgetting that there is an entire culture behind what they are doing. The practice of yoga has traditions and history, and we don’t have to agree with the ideology but should nonetheless respect it as we would expect others to respect our own culture. While some people in the United States treat yoga as a thing they do on the weekends or at the gym, there are millions of people who treat yoga as their foundation of understanding and way of life. It’s something everyone should consider whether or not they are prepared to respect and be a part of before starting their yoga practices.

    Part B: The thing that were said in this passage peaked my interest in the ways of other yogis. I thought the sentence “You wear the garland for its flowers but without a thread, there cannot be a garland” was very poetic and helps explain the idea that everyone has their own way of doing yoga despite having the same fundamental understanding of it. I think in the future I would like to try other forms of yoga or take a class with another instructor to see some of these differences. I’ve only had one other instructor in the past, and I have already noticed many differences in your “garlands” despite the shared thread. However, I was personally taken aback by the following quote: “If you have realized and understood that all these things — money, pleasure, family and property, are good to have but don’t truly fulfil you, then it’s time for yoga.” That really put our weekly readings in a simple context for me, and I think the reason I disagree with many of the things that are said is simply that I haven’t let myself become ready for yoga. I don’t know if I will be ready by the end of this course, but it’s something that I think you need to realize on your own over time. Yoga is something I will hopefully have if I feel ready to embrace that ideology, otherwise I will simply continue to enjoy the peace it can bring me in the moment and accept that as my understanding of yoga.

    Part C: When I was young, we learned the story of Buddha in elementary school. At the time, that’s what it felt like: a story. Yet I see that it is so much more than that to so many people. Buddha’s life extends beyond the people he knew because his words continue to mean something to people today. I think that’s proof of his enlightened state of mind, that his words still hold a universal truth. He sought to improve the lives of few with enlightenment instead of living in luxury, and in doing so he helped millions to this day. Sometimes it takes great pressure to reach your best self, and Buddha’s story proves that.

    Part D: I did the Isha Kriya four times this week. I was very nauseous on Wednesday because of sinus pressure, but I wish I thought to do the Isha Kriya because it did make me feel much better for a few hours on Thursday; my airways were cleared and my headache was alleviated, and that was helped by doing the practice in the sauna and relaxing. I notice that my back is straighter while doing the practice and feels more relaxed afterward, which is a nice change of pace from the tension I often feel in the small of my back. It has become easier to stay focused, even without the audio to help if I can find a quiet place to practice, and I can feel that calm focus bleed over into other activities.

  5. The first reading was about the origins of Yoga and the Shiva. Shiva was the Adi Yoga, the first one to develop sutras, and he did so by spiritual dancing on a mountain, that sometimes led him to great activity, and sometimes to complete stillness. Given by the fact that this is placed to be some 40,000 years ago, I wouldn’t be surprised if our yoga practice now resembles absolutely nothing of his original, but I think it’s very interesting that the origins of yoga are attributed to dance in spiritual ecstasy. Shiva then passed his sutras on to his wife, and then seven sages, who later spread the sutras throughout the land.

    The second was on Patanjali, who consolidated all the different practices of yoga. Patanjali was a great intellectual, and wrote an incredibly boring book categorizing and generalizing the 1,800 different specialized practices of yoga. He wrote it to be such because he did not want to teach a philosophy, but merely provide a framework. This framework is the sutra, which is a thread without a garland – it is only a guide for the yogi to add his/her own experiential substance to make the practice. I found this to be similar conceptually to McAfee’s call for living in the moment as sensuality.

    The third reading was about the Gautama Buddha. I had heard this story before – Siddhartha Gautama was a prince who was sheltered from the world. After discovering suffering, old age, and death, he left his family and royalty to become a wanderer and ended up meditating under a tree for a month. This left him enlightened. What I did not know was the details of how he became enlightened. This, to me, sums up the practice I have learned so far. Only by sitting and focusing himself on one moment, and only by letting that moment become the most important thing “Unless the Ultimate happens to me, I will not move.” did Siddhartha become enlightened. It is being in the moment so fully that is paramount.

    This week I practiced the Isha Kriya Tuesday – Saturday. Wednesday and Thursday I practiced it a few minutes before bed. It was quiet in my apartment so I was able to focus and concentrate. I felt my body become lighter and my breathing so very relaxed. It was an amazingly calming experience. On Tuesday I did this right before I composed. I’ve been working on a new piece, which is usually very difficult to begin, but after practicing Isha Kriya I was so relaxed that I did not allow myself to become stressed out by the slow progress – I just went with the flow. This is definitely something I have to do more often.

    -Dakota Wayne

  6. A) I was perhaps most interested in learning that the origins of yoga did not incorporate yogic poses, as is typically considered today. I also found myself inspired by mentioning of the ‘ultimate goal’ as liberation, as I think that is a particularly vital ideal, especially in current Western civilizations. I hoped this writing would have discussed how the variety of cultural influences that created and appropriated yoga poses and postures would have been elaborated.

    B) The discussion of threads was particularly resonant. I was most interested in the notion of threads, or various ideals, and the necessity of them to be interwoven, not to create something complete, but rather as something for an individual to personalize and make their own, only after figuring out how to incorporate the threads together.

    C) As someone who had practiced Buddhism for several years, this is a story I am very familiar with. I was always particularly fascinated by the very specific practice of self-discipline and individual capability to reach enlightenment. I do think the story treads into notions of neoliberalism and underestimates the value of communal strengths, and so I disagree some of its ideals, but I think there is something inspiring in realizing an individual’s purpose and potential and practicing them for a greater good.

    D) As I mentioned last week, I practice my Isha Kriya in the evening while I am writing my thesis, which is typically daily. After a few hours, I do reach a point of burnout, at which time, I usually practice my Isha Kriya and am able to feel rejuvenated and more capable of focus. Lately, in times when I become stressed or unfocused in my writing, I have found myself being able to better focus on my breathing while still writing, and am able to continue on longer than in the past, sometimes to the point of forgetting to practice, as there are days when I no longer lose focus or feel exhausted. Still, I completed the practice 4 times this week.

  7. PART 1: I never fully knew the origins of yoga so, to say the least, it was interesting to read on the topic. I can’t be sure but Shiva seems to be a mythical story, at least so in the way it is recounted (specifically with the eighty-four years of sadhana). Nonetheless, I was reminded of something that always troubles me when reading on spirituality: Who has the authority to decide what “enlightenment” means? In this article, Shiva decides that his seven trainees are “ripe to receive” about 1008 full moons, seemingly an arbitrary number. And how did they all come to enlightenment at the very same moment?

    PART 3: This same display of authority is repeated throughout the article. Patanjali, the father of modern yoga, took it upon himself to, I believe, organize the yoga sutras in a way that was user-friendly. Again, it is difficult to understand how so much was drastically changed by one figure. Like the article mentions, their are some scholars that believe Patanjali’s work was actually work between a collective of people. I am more inclined to believe that yoga sutras were developed by a slow evolution of practices in different regions perhaps.

    PART 4: I empathized greatly with the story of Gautama who became weak in the river Niranjana. His struggle to push through a very tough spot (but ultimately persevere) reminded me of times in yoga where a certain pose was really challenging, however, my ability to move past it proved me stronger to myself. When Gautama commits himself to sit in the position until “something” happens to him shows the process of meditation. Often I struggle with keeping still while meditating, and I believe it necessary to commit yourself to reach a new level of comfortability with meditation.

    ISHA KRIYA: I still struggle (like I’ve mentioned above) to stick with the Isha Kriya whole heartedly. Often my mind nudges at me to think: “Hey! We’ve got more important things to do.” However, I do recognize that Isha Kriya is one of the most organized forms of meditations I have tried. I feel that there is a better feel for timing. Also, the mantra in the first stage keeps the mind focused and in-tuned. I practice every other day, in morning, for about 10-12 mins.

    • I do hope Veronica as you stick with your IK practice that you are also recognizing your own personal wealth and value as you are fine tuning your energies to higher levels for successes that will come in time, the benefits build and it accumulates when attended to as energy evaporates unless cultivated properly and your struggle has to do with the difficulty with harnessing the energy for 48 hours is difficult and closer to impossible. If this is all you can provide for yourself it is a little drop in the bucket and better than nothing…I do hope one day in your life you may care to attend to your energies more seriously, Namaste

  8. Part One:
    I like how this reading started off saying that although all of the people were not the same, they had one common goal, which was to achieve liberation. During these ancient times, India and Pakistan did not exist as individual countries, but as one country called Hindustan. I am not sure if this was before or after they gained independence from Great Britain. The common goal of liberation is what held all of the people together in such a magical way. It is amazing how the practice of yoga was started by Shiva almost 15,000-40,000 years ago! I cannot even imagine how long ago that is! The way that Shiva’s enlightenment was described, I could see myself being one of those people who would go and watch him in amazement. I am glad that he eventually began to spread his knowledge and teach other people. Because if he never did, perhaps yoga would not be around today!
    Part Two:
    This part of the reading talks about Agastya, who was taught by Shiva. It is hard to imagine him being alive for 4,8000 years, that seems impossible to people these days. He was well-educated in the Tamil language and grammar, which is much prevalent in South India. This part of the reading also talks about Ayurveda. I have heard of this many times before as being a very good healing process. According to this reading, it is much more than that. It is believed that by using this and other herbs, people can change their destinies. For example, if they have an inherited physical disability, they can rid themselves of it. What I found most interesting about part 2 of the reading was this unique form of martial arts, called Kalari. This was taught based on anatomy, physiology, and medicine specializing in dealing with injuries. It also incorporates spiritual processes and higher states of consciousness.
    Part Three:
    The third part of this reading talks about Patanjali, who is the father of modern yoga. He is the one who compiled the yoga sutras. It was interesting to read that he did not particularly describe certain practices, methods, or techniques of doing these yoga sutras, but rather was very general about it. I would think that one should say exactly how to do these sutras, like how we are taught how to exactly do the practices we carry out in class. Patanjali was also described as a very intellectual man. He seems well-rounded with being good at math, music, etc. It was a bit ironic to read that the sutras were dull and interesting. One would think that the sutras would be so compelling that it would attract people into wanting to practice yoga. But it makes sense that he did not want it to become a philosophy. It also talks about how a sutra literally translates to a thread. From my understanding, this is the basic unit of yoga, and we are to choose any way to expand on it.
    Part Four:
    This part of the reading focuses on Siddhartha, who later became Gautama Buddha. I was surprised to learn that Siddhartha was made to stay in his palace and be “protected” from the outside world. I think it is not right to hide the religious teachings and knowledge of human suffering from any person. I believe that every human being should see it how it is so that they are prepared for when they come in contact with the real world. When Siddhartha eventually went out of his palace, as predicted, he was shocked by what he encountered. I think that is what truly made him take the extreme measure of leaving his home and continuously walking and starving. The reading goes on to talk about how Siddhartha had, almost, an epiphany that all he needed was within himself. This is what enlightened him. What we can learn from this, is that, we have to gather our own selves, and look at everything as a whole. All we need is the willingness. Buddha was such an inspirational man. To get up and just leave everything is a very difficult task that not all of us could have done.

  9. It is really amazing hearing how ancient yoga is. And how much more advanced it has gotten over the years. Personally I did not know it originated in India, I thought it originated in Pakistan. Even though I was close its good to know the facts. In ancient times, as I learned, India did not exist as one country, but still it was considered one entity called Bharat Varsha. By race, by language, the people were not the same; by religion, they did not worship the same gods; politically they were never one, but still the land south of the Himalayas was referred to as Bharat Varsha. So somewhere, there was some sense of unity because of the common spiritual ethos they carried in them. It has come to my attention that yoga is very important. As I learn more about it, I learn to appreciate it more. When I was younger I just thought that yoga was something you do once just for fun and you feel relaxed after it. But as I take this class and read about yoga, I’m finding that its much more than that. By doing yoga, you’re doing yourself a huge favor. It is the answer to all your problems in life and you can say bye to stress because after yoga sessions, you feel so refreshed and brand new. I would like to say that yoga has changed me in a way that I thought couldn’t. Coming from a background where my parents are very strict and don’t really allow much became very stressful within the years. I would stress for the most smallest things. Taking this yoga class has broaden my knowledge of yoga and how rewarding the results are. After this class is done, I am for sure making yoga a regular basis thing.
    Lumi Huseinovic

  10. I deeply enjoyed reading about the ways in which the Yogic practice has developed since its inception. Often I have wondered about the roots of yoga, and how it has come to take the form it has taken in modern culture. The wisdom that was consciously held in the past has been repressed by many into the subconscious. This becomes very clear when one considers his/her environment. In my experience, the majority of people living in the United States today are ignorant to the power of yoga. In many conversations I have felt inhibited to fully express my passion and ideas concerning issues related to yoga/spirituality. I believe that becoming more learned on the origins of yoga has contributed to my confidence when speaking my truth. I find that it is better to know the history of what one is talking about, as opposed to working off purely subjective experiences.
    By stating “And now, yoga…” at the beginning of the Sutras, Patanjali has given a subtle hint to the audience. One that implies there is a prime time in one’s journey to start practicing yoga. This strongly resonated with me. How can one pursue inner work when his/her attention is fixated on the external, material world?
    The story of Guatama Buddha has been one of my favorites for many years since I initially learned about it. Thus, I delighted in reading this version of the story. Reading it again in this format allowed me to re-contextualize the story within my own mind using fresh/updated imagery. The author of this writing was able to include pieces of information that made this a very potent explanation. As a whole, reading about this evolution has reminded me about how important yoga is in our lives, whether we are aware of it or not.

    – Conrad –

  11. The first part of the reading is about how the regions of Bharat Varsha were connected, though they differed religiously, politically, geographically. It talks about how Shiva was instrumental in facilitating the spiritual bonds which connected the regions. After Shiva obtained the status of the first yogi, he first began to teach his wife the practice of yoga, and then taught it to the first seven sages over a period of 84 years, after which he became the first guru and his disciples were ready to teach the practice of yoga to others. It is interesting to know where the practice of yoga began, and more of the history of the region of india. Yoga has developed so much since Shiva first began developing the practice. I am curious as to how he knew what to do. Did he teach his wife and his disciples yoga poses as we know them today? or simply more of the spiritual side of the practice?

    This second section talks about how Agastya, one of Shivas disciples, brought the spiritual practice of yoga to southern india, influencing not only religion but language and culture as well. One of the principles he brought to the regions religious ideology is the idea that one must obtain shiva within themselves. Agastya is also considered to have been instrumental in the development of the Kalari marshal art, which not only focused on fighting but in anatomy, physiology, and medicine. He also had a system of wellness based on the reciting of mantras and incantations.After reading this i am left wondering how exactly one would obtain shiva. how would they know? How does one gain mastery over material subjects simply through meditation and inner experience? How does a healing system based on mantra really work?

    This third section is written about Patanjali, and his development of the yoga sutras. The book he wrote is supposedly very dry, written like a schematic to the operations of lifes functions. The yoga sutras are just the bare thread on which yoga is based, on which the totality of yogic practices are based. I wonder how Pantajali could figure all of this out.How could Patanjali know so much about life? How do we know he is correct? How do we know the sutras are correct?

    The fourth section discusses sidartha. This is a story I am familiar with, that of the quest for nirvana, the middle path. Again, i am curious to know how we find this. Maybe the answer is that we all must find out what works best for the individual, and allows to to live most spiritually.

  12. Truly fascinating read. I had never known the history of Yoga, India, or Shiva. Also, the word “mukti” had me question a lot and what it means to be “liberated”. I went to research more about this “mukti” and In Indian religions and Indian philosophy, moksha (Sanskrit: मोक्ष mokṣa), also called vimoksha, vimukti and mukti, means emancipation, liberation or release. Moksha or mukti connotes freedom, self-realization and self-knowledge. It is closely related to the word ‘nirvana’. So have humans always been searching for the meaning of life? Has there always been one (or a few) strong character(s) throughout history that are able to corral a group of people with extreme amount of unearthly energy? Characters like Shiva, the Christian God, Dieties altogether have always seen so alien to me. There presence is more than human. Even if people don’t believe in their teachings, it’s undoubtedly so that these people existed and that they still have the energy and power to be talked about today his remarkable to me. With the continuation of my last though this part in Part 2 sums up my opinion perfectly “Siddhars were also believed to be adept in telepathy, teleportation and transmigration. They had an interesting tradition that towards the end of their lives, they always traveled to a major temple to attain samadhi. Many temples in Tamil Nadu are alive and vibrant even today because of these energies. Unfortunately, much of this tradition has become obscure and largely decimated over time.” I’d like to talk about a few topics and questions that came about when reading this section. I couldn’t help but think about India’s current global situation. According to the Borgen project 1. India is estimated to have one-third of the world’s poor.
    2. In 2012, 37 percent of India’s 1.21 billion people fell below the international poverty line, which is $1.25 a day, according to the Indian Planning Commission.
    3. According to 2010 World Bank data, India’s labor participation rate (for those individuals over the age of 15) totaled 55.6 percent; however, the percent of wage and salaried workers of those employed only equaled about 18.1 percent.
    4. According to the World Health Organization, it is estimated that 98,000 people in India die from diarrhea each year. The lack of adequate sanitation, nutrition and safe water has significant negative health impacts.
    So a lot of part 2 seemed sad to me. Agastya set out to help his people by maintaining a knowledge of physical and mental health and sharing it amongst others, and educating his nation in the South with healing systems. If Siddhars truly gained mastery of their herbs would problems that have arisen today be in question. How is it that such a blissful, or as it may seem, an “in tune” nation would have such strife. I think about this a lot. Many religious nations don’t live in proper living conditions. From gallup.com “Each of the most religious countries is relatively poor, with a per-capita GDP below $5,000. This reflects the strong relationship between a country’s socioeconomic status and the religiosity of its residents. In the world’s poorest countries — those with average per-capita incomes of $2,000 or lower — the median proportion who say religion is important in their daily lives is 95%. In contrast, the median for the richest countries — those with average per-capita incomes higher than $25,000 — is 47%.” yet on the other hand India is so rich in other areas. They are rich in spirituality and wisdom, but how does this not reflect in their politics. Then again who am I to say what is proper and what is not proper. India’s global impact is strong, spreading that of Yoga, spices, and other amazing traditions, food and culture yet on the other hand there people suffer from inbreeding, poverty, rape, brutality. Every good has it’s bad, but from someone coming from western American culture and reading something so impactful like this story of Agastya I would think there would be truly peace and freedom in a large region of India (I’m sure there is!!)(I know there is) But I am speaking monetarily and in terms of welfare, healthcare, and all other areas of life. On the other hand, I am truly Westernized and I am privileged to have clean water and I feel like everyone should have that even people who seem so in touch with their well being. Why do I deserve clean water, clean clothes on my back, a table for eating, a car, etc and some don’t. I am not always spiritual. Sometimes my evil side presides me more than my good, so why do people who seem to be doing everything right have nothing? I am baffled by this. Then again every culture has it’s richness and every culture has it’s poverty.
    I don’t really believe that such an intellectual man would purposefully write something uninteresting or boring. This section actually bothered me. “Patanjali wrote it in such a way that nobody should be interested in it. It is the driest and dullest book in the world, to read. He wrote it like this intentionally because the idea is that this is a formula to open up life.” Perhaps the text was boring to the writer of this blog, but I find this subjective. And perhaps “now yoga” means “to be”, to be aware of the self, to be aware of others, and don’t let life’s superficial values get in the way of your true self. I feel as if I need to read the text for myself then from this secondary source.

    • Great journal entry…let me try to answer some of your questions….Patanjali’s text was written in Sanskrit and depending on which english version one reads a different translation and interpretation, Teachers and Spiritual Guides from this tradition didn’t have to pen a text to get a Publisher interested to market it for public consumption….students and followers were (remain in many places in Gurukuls in India) grateful and were interested in learning so the Guru-disciple relationship is something unknown to western minds. India was pillaged by many conquerors for centuries, raped of it natural resources for centuries and colonized by several nations that left a powerful Bharat (India) destitute in many areas…divide and conquer left a bad taste in those who were pitted on high against the masses to continue up to this date….Mixing politics with spiritual pursuits is a dangerous cocktail…doesn’t mix well, see them both with clear and distinct filters….the history of places like India (currently many states with over 400+tribal languages, customs and differences) is long and vast and must be studied to understand contemporary realities. However, the current growth since 1949 has been one of the fastest in world history and the last 20 years alone has brought amazing economic changes for peoples and regions never before touched by progress. Lastly, Indian Classical Hatha Yoga is and never sprouted to be any kind of religion, it is a philosophy and an Art, the Art of Livng Well.

  13. I had never thought about it, but yoga has much in common with other religions, there is a leader with disciples, and they try to spread the word. There are texts to live by and even rituals to do. The thing, I feel, that sets it apart from other religions/spiritualties is that there is very little focus on a communal “worship”. There are many rituals, but there are all intrinsic and self-exploratory rituals. “It’s about realizing,”- the purpose is to look inward and by doing that becoming enlightened.
    It was cool to see this evolution of yoga in this article,; I had no idea how far back it’s roots went, or that there was so much more than just the mat work we had been doing. I didn’t know about the aspects of herbal healing, poetry and the martial art Kalaripayattu.

    Katherine Gilmartin

  14. Brianne Malloy
    For Yoga Tools for Relaxation and Peace

    Part 2
    Agastya is a sacred figure with the history of yoga believed by some to live from 400 up to 4,800 years. This long rich life is very much a result of the yoga practices such as mastering the usage of herbs to control ones destiny and health. He was sent by his direct ancestor Shiva to South India to spread the practice of yoga. Agastya practices a special martial art called Kalari that teaches many subjects within science including medicine. Agastya is still cherished today and is remembered all around the south of India.

    Part 3
    As yoga evolved over thousands of years eighteen hundred different types of yoga emerged. Patanjali is known to be the father of modern yoga as he took the complexity of what yoga had become and simplified it into one unified thing that everyone can understand and do together. He had no specific way of teaching people how to do it, but rather gathered like minded people together to avoid everything becoming to segregated. Patanjali brilliantly and intentionally wrote a book of 200 sutras. An accomplishment that many believe to be impossible off one man to pull off but he still was able to do it. A sutra is just one thread amongst other sutras that when woven together create the practice of yoga. The reason why the first sutra is “and now, yoga…” is to make sure that when people start the practice of yoga they are ready. In order to be ready to start doing yoga you must not be limited things in your life and you should not make your life goals about money.

    Part 4
    As Siddhartha began to venture outside of his royal life he learned more about the harsh realities of the world such as sickness and aging. He wanted to find a way to avoid having these things happen to himself. He did this by following the path of a ascetic and discovered many things during the process. While practicing as a samana Siddhartha began to starve and grow weak. It was through his weakness that he found the true meaning of strength.

  15. It was interesting and informative to read about the evolution of yoga because I had never learned about its creation/evolution before reading these passages. One thing that stuck with me was from the first reading, that in ancient times India did not yet exist as one country, but was still considered a single entity called Bharat Varsha. That entity was united in a common spiritual ethos, that everyone, from every caste has the same ultimate goal: liberation. In the fourth reading, Buddha achieves liberation from the world. It reinforces the idea that since ancient times, through today, spiritual yogis have been striving to achieve the same single goal, liberation. I was always curious how yoga began, so it was interesting to find out that the first yoga class was performed by Shiva on the full moon day called Guru Pournami, when Shiva officially became the first guru, the Adi Guru. The first class sounds magical.
    Agastya, one of the seven direct disciples of Shiva, attended that first yoga class. His life was fascinating to learn about, I cannot believe all of the things he was able to achieve in his long life on Earth, that lasted somewhere between 400 to 4800 years. He is the father of South Indian mysticism and explored spirit and matter through the philosophies of the siddhars. I strongly agree with the message and philosophies of the siddhars. They believed that through mastering the usage of herbs, a person can shape their own destiny, regardless “of one’s caste, creed, illness, or physical and mental disabilities inherited by birth.” That is a very important and inspirational message to have in India, where the caste system dictates the lives of peasants. If one can control their own destiny, they can escape the confines of their caste and are still able to achieve enlightenment. It also helps that cause that siddhars emphasize meditation and inner experience as sources of wellbeing.
    I took an interesting World Religions class, in which we extensively covered Buddhism and Siddhartha Gautama. Although I was already familiar with his story, it is always inspirational to reread. A rich man giving up his excessive wealth, material possessions, and family to follow the path to enlightenment full of suffering and despair sounds like a fairytale in today’s world. It is a reminder that possessions and sensual pleasures are not the only way to achieve happiness and his resolve is inspirational. It is honorable that when he sits under the tree he has decided to either achieve his goal of enlightenment or die.

  16. The article about the origins of yoga was very enlightening. I’m not sure why but I never really wondered how yoga began. I guess I just thought it existed forever passed down from generation to generation by a yoga master. I guess in a way that is true but there is much more about yoga that. Yoga was started in India a country filled with diversity and at the time it wasn’t even a nation it was a cluster of regions. All these different people had the same spiritual Ethos meaning that they all wanted liberation. One of the most influence people in yoga history was shiva a god but at the time they weren’t considered a god. They were known as Adi Guru. The Adi Guru danced around and stood still he did this for many years. Many people came to watch him do his ritualistic type dance and rest wondering what gave him such ecstay. The first person that was taught these movements was the adi Guru’s wife. This teaching required a level of intimacy and trust this slowly began to develop in the teaching of yoga to others. The history shows how if one would life to take yoga as a practice seriously they must open their hearts and surrender themselves to the process of learning and accepting the ways of yoga.

  17. Part 2.
    Agastya one of the seven disciples of Shiva, after learning and practicing went back to southern India where he came from to spread teachings to others. He lived longer than a normal human and achieved many things that would take a normal human many life times to accomplish. He is a very spiritual man and is given credit to many things. Including a type of martial art that focuses on that anatomy and scientific aspects of the body. I always forget that there have been experiments that prove the usefulness of yoga and how it’s beneficial in many aspects of human life. Even though Agastya lived thousands of years ago his impact on humanity is not gone we can still trace lessons and teachings to him today.
    Part 3.
    Patanjali unlike Agastya is considered a modern day man of yoga. Although he too lived thousands of years ago. He was responsible for creating Yoga Sutras.
    He however wasn’t a teacher. He was considered an intellect. One of his more memorable lines in the book were “ and now yoga”. Again I did not realize there was such a rich history in yoga. I had no idea how long ago it was created and how many people it took to shape it into the kind of yoga we practice today. And there are several different types of yoga practiced around the world.
    Part 4.
    This part of the article explains how yoga and Buddha and Buddhism are related. This makes sense to me on so many levels. As I learn more about yoga and its practice the more I connect it to Buddhism. It describes the story about how a prince upon realizing that death old age and suffering were happening to those around him decided to over come all. He realizes that one can only achieve happiness through the acts of mediation and through letting go of worldly desires can you truly be happy.

  18. I found these readings regarding the major figures behind the evolution of yoga to be very informative, as I’d never learned about any of the history behind yoga. The first section regarding Shiva, the Adi Guru and Adi Yogi, held a few surprises — for example, I wasn’t aware that Shiva was said to live between 15,000–40,000 years ago! I’ve always heard about how yoga is an “ancient” practice, though my thought on it’s age was perhaps a couple thousand years. This reading was the first time I’d encountered the history of Agastya Muni, a direct disciple of Shiva, who is regarded in India as a saintly figure. He also invented the Siddha medicine system (traditional Indian medicine), the Indian martial art form, Kalaripayattu, and Agastya is also considered the Father of Tamil Literature. Throughout his productive life, Agastya comprised a system of well-being for others to follow in order to add a spiritual element to life and culture, and allow spirituality to become intertwined with our lives. In the second reading, I learned of Patanjali, who is considered the Father of Modern Yoga. Patanjali noticed how yogic philosophy and science had taken on too many specializations since its advent, and created the yoga sutras in order to show the core foundation among the specializations that had formed. The yoga sutras are essentially a “formula” to yoga, and examine the general guidelines within any specialization or practice. Lastly, discussed in the final article, is the famed Gautama Buddha. While I’d previously heard some of the anecdotes recounting the life of Siddhartha, I’d never heard how exactly he became the Buddha. It was fascinating to me how simply his enlightenment occurred under the Bodhi tree, and how it took so much time him to realize that he had the absolute will to become enlightened, and which he came to realize was all that was necessary, and was enlightened instantly in that moment.

  19. The historical context these readings gave was truly fascinating. I found a particular connection with Patanjali, and his work toward the unification of the many teachings at the time. Since our class incorporates many different yogic practices, we learn a respect for different sub-disciplines. Since spiritual teachings as ancient as yoga have had so much time to develop since their birth, there is often great divergence between practices today, and it is important to remember that these are all a part of the same framework, going back to the same teachings of the Adi Guru so long ago.

    I also found the story of Gautama Buddha to have a message connected to the teachings we have heard. His realization that an ascetic lifestyle does not contain all the answers, and that enforcing one’s own sadhana through excessive fast does not truly remove attachment, gets to the deep point of John McAfee’s book. He realized as he sat that the path to enlightenment is about reflecting on one’s attachment rather than the futile fight to remove it.

  20. The first part of this article talks bout Shiva. Shiva was the Adiyogi, first yogi, in history. The article explains some of the backstory of Shiva and how Yoga came to be. People saw him experiencing things that nobody had before. He first taught his yoga to his wife, Parvati. There was great intimacy between them. He later created the first yoga program on the banks of Kanti Sarovar. He was able to enlighten people with his teachings and would later send people to spread his yoga around the world.
    The second part focused on Agastya, who was one of the seven direct disciples of Shiva. He is credited as the father of South Indian mysticism. His teachings involved having to experience Shiva within yourself in order to be followed by wellbeing. And his teachings were not based on rituals or scriptures but on meditation and experience. Agastya is also responsible for Kalari which is taught as a science with instruction on human anatomy and physiology and helps with treating illness. Shiva wanted his spirituality to reach all corners of the world.
    The next part discussed the father of modern Yoga, Patanjali. He assimilated the formula for Yoga Sutras. Patanjali never gave any real method and was general about a lot of things. He later wrote a book on Sutras which was intentionally boring in order to open up lives more. He believed that if you just take one sutra and live by it, it will completely transform you and your experiences. Sutras are still just the fundamentals and he explains that the first one is based on how that you are truly ready for yoga when you realize and understand that pleasure and family are good but don’t fulfill you.
    The last section talked about Siddhartha Gautama. He left is palace at 29 and wasted to overcome age, sickness and death after seeing it firsthand outside his palace. After searching for a long time, he realize she didn’t have to go all around the world and the meditated intensely. So intense that he essentially said that he wasn’t going to stop unless he was enlightened or dead. Once he woke up successfully enlightened, he aided people on the path of enlightenment.
    These four in-depth facts of yoga were very interesting to read and understand more. It’s nice to learn who came up with these ideals and how long ago they were founded. The line that resonated with me the most was talking about Patanjali and his sutras. When he said that if you just took one Sutra and made it a reality in your life, your life would better itself. I believe this to be promising and true. I’d like to think that the basic sutras are extremely insightful and reflective topics for one to think about and meditate on. And by simply focusing on one alone can greatly change one’s outlook on their life and others. This is something I hope to achieve by the end of this course. Having focused on at least one sutra or yogic theme in order to better myself and become more aware of myself.

    -Max Pollio

  21. Part One
    One of the things I found most moving about this excerpt was the first few opening sentences that described how India was originally Bharat Varsha, a land of which all of the people were bounded by spirituality. That in itself is beautiful, that people can have different viewpoints politically and can have language barriers between them but can be unified by spiritual beliefs. The general public should be more aware of this, especially during a time where political views are so polarized that there is a lack of peace throughout the nation. I was also moved by the description of intimacy as something that “should not be understood as sexuality. It means there is no resistance; this person is absolutely open to whatever is being offered.” The true meaning of intimacy is separate from a description of physical barriers because it transcends physical barriers, and is really more of an inexplicable closeness and comfort.

    Part Two
    In the article, the author states, “Another interesting underlying belief is that through mastering the usage of herbs one can shape one’s own destiny irrespective of one’s caste, creed, illnesses, or physical and mental disabilities inherited by birth.” I was always fascinated with the use of holistic remedies for healing and do believe that in almost every single situation, and for every medication, there is always some herbal counterpart that can be just as effective, if not more effective, and we are just unaware of it or do not have access to it. The article even discussed “a whole system of health and wellbeing based solely on the usage of mantras” and “a system of treating illness and creating wellbeing through the practice of occult.” On a much smaller scale, these ideas reminded me of when I was struggling with my skin as a teenager, and how my dermatologist wanted to give me oral antibiotics that would clear up my skin quickly. When I hesitated, she told me that if I strictly went with topical creams and products, it could take a long time for my skin to clear up, whereas if I took the antibiotic, it would clear up much quicker. I felt that I did not want to take a medication or put chemicals into my body if I did not absolutely have to, so I went with the less aggressive route. Even with all of the different creams and products, nothing cleared up my skin so quickly and so effectively as an all-natural toner that my friend showed me, made from African black soap and tea tree oil. There are many instances where natural remedies are superior to chemical remedies. It is just a matter of having access to them and being knowledgable enough to be a “master of the usage of herbs.”

    Part Three
    My favorite part from this selection was the definition of “sutra,” meaning thread. By saying that “a thread by itself does not mean anything,” the author is trying to demonstrate that Yoga Sutras are fundamentals to leading a healthier life. Every success starts from the smallest of components, and sutras are building blocks. The priority is not in the significance of the sutra itself, but more so in what the sutra is able to create as an overall experience, as the greater picture. Part three was also profound in its explanation of materialism, and how if someone does not have priorities in order, he or she is not ready to practice yoga. This is a concept that is important to remember, because many people take the practice of yoga for granted. Yoga is fun, but it is also a serious and respected spiritual discipline, and should be treated with respect, and not tainted with superficiality or materialism.

    Part Four
    The story of Siddhartha trying to cross the river and ultimately finding that the strength he needed to finish the path was coming from his inner self and not his physical body was extremely profound. When I read that, I immediately connected it to the first part of Isha Kriya where we say, “I am not this body, I am not even this mind,” because we are so much more than a physical being. Our energies and enlightenment come from within, and we possess so much more strength and will than we are even aware of in our everyday lives, and are not given the opportunity to prove to ourselves all of the qualities we possess until we are in the most adverse of situations.


  22. This was a fascinating-in depth look at the origins of yoga. I had previously thought that Gautama Buddha (Siddhartha) was the “inventor” of yoga. I would never have guessed that yoga dates so far back-perhaps to 40,000 years ago! Shiva’s spiritual journey is a fascinating one; I’d be curious to know what spurred him to head to the mountains and seek such a transformative experience. I love the fact that the first person he shared his new knowledge with was his wife Parvati. I also feel reassured to know that it took his first seven disciples over 84 years to become ready to fully receive his teachings! Agastya is also a fascinating character-taking Shiva’s teachings and not only spreading them to the world, but taking his teachings further and developing new systems and disciplines still studied today. Pantajali created the sutras and it’s hard to imagine yoga existing without those principles. Indeed, the first sutra “and now yoga” seems so apt when we think of the sapta rishis waiting so long to begin their studies with Shiva…Pantajali strikes me almost as an ancient DaVinci type, with his capacity for knowledge of such varied subjects as math and music, and these on top of a deep spiritual journey. Guatama Buddha is probably the figure I identify most with from these readings. That he strove to learn something about the world after being closed off from it for so long is fascinating-he could have easily buried his head in the sand. While Shiva’s experience seems arduous, Guatama Buddha’s seems almost simple (although, I realize it did not happen overnight), but when he let go, he realized that the answers he had searched so hard for were already within him. The answers are within all of us if we are willing to ask the right questions. Sadhguru says that “the first thing is to gather yourself,” and for me, this is truly the most difficult thing-to sit in complete stillness is easy-I could do that all day if I’m in a comfortable position, but to quiet my mind is very difficult-to shut out the to-do lists, and the responsibilities and desires requires such discipline. But, when it happens, even if only for a moment or two, that stillness is profound and opens us up to amazing possibilities.

  23. The articles involving the history and true beginning of yogic practices connect the reader to a very interesting place of thought. Involving immense accessibility and capability within one’s future, the ideas implemented through Agastya, Patanjali, and Siddhartha explore evolution, connection beyond oneself, and the constant reminder of this spirituality which is still inherent – from yoga of the past to yoga of the contemporary. Beyond an idea of caste, the practices introduced influenced such a vast area of Southern India and beyond in the way that they did due to their inability to be constrained through hierarchy. In stripping the practices of notions that could constrict, the ability for Tamil peoples to meditate and explore mysticism, healing, and wellbeing become inherent and constantly translated. It becomes especially noticeable, towards the end of the article, how connected yoga is with wellbeing and the ability for one to enter into an amazing plane of existence.
    Personally, exploring the second material opened up a very intense conversation within my mind. Focusing on the sutras and their essence of “probably the greatest document on life and the most uninteresting book on the planet”, the notion of becoming entranced within something greater than you and perhaps even perpendicular to this lived reality is evoked. The idea of Patanjali’s broad teachings expands, again, into the notion of removing from hierarchy and existing beyond the initial idea of common philosophy. This, again, connects to the intense interest in these teachings, these Sutras – Patanjali never intended this scripture to be just that. There was no interesting, magnificent interpretation of metaphor – instead, the least interesting notions of existence and life that could be possibly conceived. Enlightenment is wrapped, in essence, by the thread (the sutra) when being informed through these teachings – and with this, we now exist with many sutras over us, connecting as threads, acting almost as a quilt of enlightenment.
    The notion of Siddhartha is one that seems consistent in most teachings of contemporary practices of meditation and enlightenment. In the ability to abstain from bodily, Earthly delights, one can achieve a greater understanding of themselves, humanity, and the abilities of the human to overcome negativity that is consistent within reality. Through exploring different notions of these abstentions Siddhartha acts as an icon in contemporary teaching even today. Through the ability to align oneself with enlightenment – just as the moon became full, aligning itself with its wholeness – Siddhartha teaches his followers and predecessors that the paths of exploration though costly, timely, and perhaps consistently tough, will achieve the proper moments of enlightened mastery.

  24. This article, in its all sections, discuss the beginnings of the yoga practice, beginning with the Shiva. Before there was India as a whole country, the people were unified through their spirits. Shiva, the first Guru brought about the connection. In creating intimate bonds, Shiva was able to share his teachings. Being that these teachings were so important to all the different people and races, the seven sages separated to carry with them the teachings. The article then focuses on Agastya, Patanjali, and Siddhartha. Agastya is one of the seven followers of Shiva from the south of India. Patanjali is considered the father of modern yoga. And Siddhartha was a prince, shielded from the outside world. As he grew older he decided to leave behind his family and life to become an ascetic.
    The story that stood out most to me was that of Siddhartha. It is an important, especially in contemporary society, in distinguishing the things that are necessities for us. I feel so often we get caught up in lives of luxury that we often dismiss the fact that our spirits are needing as well. When Siddhartha abandons his life as royalty to seek Enlightenment, stepping beyond his comfort zone into a place of seeking something more, it speaks to the need of contemporary society to also strive for Enlightenment. Agastya was more focused healing the body, and using the mantras as a way to achieve wellbeing. Another super important in life, and something that I am very interested in as a person. I follow a vegan diet with minimal processed foods, and try to heal myself holistically and homeopathically before resorting to Western medicines. As I use different practices to heal my body and my mind, I respect the history of Agastya.

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