People who are interested to know more about yoga, often wonder about who invented yoga? Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in India almost 5,000 years ago. Yoga, in simple words is an ancient physical and spiritual discipline and branch of philosophy that was started by the Hindu yogis. Yoga emerged from the Sanskrit word yuj which means to unite or join. The purpose of yoga was to connect with the divine and to explore the inner awareness through the asanas and meditation. According to the Iyengar School of yoga, yuj means to join or integrate all aspects of an individual and create a balanced harmony of the body, mind, and soul. The ultimate aim of practicing yoga is to achieve kaivalya which means emancipation or absolute freedom.
History doesn't give us any accurate record of who invented yoga because the tradition of yoga started long before ancient Indians learnt how to write. For the same reason, nothing can be said about the exact date when the basic principles of yoga were written. The earliest record of yoga was that which was written by Patanjali, an Indian yogic sage. It is believed that Patanjali wrote the eight sutras of Ashtanga Yoga around 500 BC and soon afterwards it became a tradition to practice yoga. The eight sutras of Patanjali serve as the basis of all other schools of yoga that were later developed by other yoga practitioners. It is surprising that though the practice of yoga started long back, it is as valid and popular today just as it was in ancient times.
Yoga has become popular since it doesn't only make you physically stronger, but it also makes you mentally and emotionally sound and spiritually connected. Unlike other form of exercises, it aims for overall well-being and development of an individual and creates a perfect harmony between your body, mind, and soul. Yoga is practiced today by many western practitioners and therapists. Moreover, it has been scientifically proven that sincere practice of yoga can cure a large variety of physical and emotional illness.
Different schools of yoga have evolved over the centuries. All these schools teach yoga styles based on the basic principles of Patanjali. Buddhism and other spiritual traditions adopted yoga to practice meditation, to connect with their spirituality, and to explore the divine mystery. Although, yoga was started by the Hindu yogic sages but the practice of yoga was not confined in any particular religion or cult.
Initially, the practice of yoga was seen only as a means to attain spiritual enlightenment and to create a superior connection with one's own pure, essential nature. But the concept of yoga has stood the test of time because it yields manifold health benefits. Today, this ancient Indian practice has become the new fitness mantra for all workout enthusiasts. We don't know who invented yoga but we are glad that we are able to reap the benefits of this ancient practice today.