What is Yoga

"Illumination means: to find one’s own Self in the whole universe. He who sees unity everywhere has vanquished delusion and care."

Upanishads

The origins of Yoga

It is generally believed that Yoga has its origins going back about 5000 years to an area of northern India, known today as Pakistan.

Artefacts excavated from this period depict figures folded in yogic postures, the most famous being a soapstone seal found in the Indus Valley city of Mohenjo-daro. This city formed part of an ancient civilization that flourished long before the Aryan settlers arrived around 2000 BC.

As is often the case, these settlers quite probably assimilated some of these practices within there own culture and were the first to produce scriptural texts in the form of hymns to the Divine, extolling the virtues of unity consciousness.

The Vedas, as they are known, make references to "prana" or life-force and "nadis" or currents of life-force that form a grid work throughout the body.

A mystical brotherhood, known as "vratya", from that period, refer to the practice of "pranayama" or breath control and throughout these and the later writings of the Upanishads, there is a constant reference to the raising of consciousness from our ordinary awareness to cosmic levels, culminating in ecstatic union with the Divine Source.

We are indebted to these ancient Indian masters who maintained, refined, classified and documented yoga for thousands of years. Without such work the teaching might not have survived as it has to the present day.

The techniques of yoga, however, are not exclusively Indian, but probably as old as mankind itself, spanning many cultures throughout the world. From the first stirring of human consciousness, 45,000 to 70,000 ago, there was a prevailing sense of the domain of Spirit within all things and beyond all and everything.

There is now a growing belief that similar practices existed on other continents within prehistoric civilisations long before the period in which they were known on the Indian subcontinent.

The Aboriginal people of Australia, the Shamans of Siberia and Central America, the medicine men and women of North American tribes, the South American Incas, Druidic, Celtic and ancient Egyptian civilisations point to the fact that these ideas and practices are in fact universal.

The knowledge of the ages is written in the heart of mankind, is encoded within the genetic makeup of the race and embodied within each of us, awaiting discovery.