The word yoga is often interpreted as “union” or a method of discipline from the Sanskrit word “yuj” (to yoke or bind). A male practitioner is called a yogi, a female practitioner, a yogini.
The Postures ….
The contemporary western approach to yoga is not based on any particular belief or religion, however Yoga does has its roots in Hinduism and Brahmanism. Yoga was developed by seers or ascetics living primarily in the southern parts of India. The seers observed nature and lived as close as they could to the earth, studying the many aspects of nature, the animals and themselves. By observing and emulating the different postures and habits of the animal kingdom they were able to develop grace, strength and wisdom.
It was through these very disciplined lives that the practice of the yoga postures were developed. It was necessary to develop a series of postures to keep the body lithe and able to endure long periods of stillness when in meditation.
The Writings ….
Brahmanism dates back to containing sacred scriptures called “the Vedas”. These scriptures contained instructions and incantations. It was in the oldest text “Rg-Veda” from the scriptures that the word Yoga first appeared, this was nearly 5000 years ago. The fourth text called “Atharva-Veda” contains mainly spells for magical rites and health cures many of which use medicinal plants. This text provided the average person with the spells and incantations to use in their everyday life and this practice of “Veda” can still be seen in the streets of India today.
The Bhagavad-Gita, another ancient work on spiritual life describes itself as a yoga treatise, although it uses the word Yoga as a spiritual means. It was from this literature that Patanjali’s “eight limbs of yoga” were developed. Yoga Sutra’s are primarily concerned with developing the “nature of the mind” and I will explain more of this in the next section.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1017053