Yoga is more than mastering postures and increasing your flexibility and strength. "The traditional purpose of Yoga, however, has always been to bring about a profound transformation in the person through the transcendence of the ego," (Feuerstein 3) In Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism the word yoga means "spiritual discipline". People often associate yoga with the postures and stances that make up the physical activity of the exercise, but after closer inspection it becomes clear that there are many more aspects of yoga. It is an activity that has been practiced for thousands of years, and it is something that has evolved and changed overtime. Different factions of yoga have developed since its conception. The exact history and origins of yoga is uncertain; however, there are pieces that have been connected and allow us to make some conclusions. It is known that yoga originated from the East. The earliest signs of yoga appear in ancient Shamanism. Evidence of yoga postures were found on artifacts that date back to 3000 B.C. Evidence of yoga is found in the oldest-existing text, Rig-Veda. Rig-Veda is a composition of hymns. Topics of the Rig-Veda include prayer, divine harmony, and greater being."The primary goal of shamanism was to heal members of the community and act as religious mediators," ("History of Yoga" 1).Yoga originally focused on applying and understanding the world. Its focus later changed to the self. Self-enlightenment became the ultimate goal. It was not until the sixth century B.C. that the poses and meditation became a critical element. They were implemented by Buddhist teachings.
Ancient yogis had a belief that in order for you to be in harmony with yourself and your environment, you have to integrate the body, the mind, and the spirit. For these three to be integrated, emotion, action, and intelligence must be in balance. The yogis formulated a way to achieve and maintain this balance and it is done through exercise, breathing, and meditation, these are three main yoga structures. In yoga, the body is treated with care and respect for it is the primary instrument in your work and growth. Yoga exercise will improve circulation, stimulate the abdominal organs, and put pressure on the glandular system of the body, which can generally result to better health. Breathing techniques were developed based on the concept that breath is the source of life. In yoga, you gain breathing control as you slowly increase your breathing. By focusing on your breathing, you prepare your mind for the next step, which is meditation. There is a general misconception that in meditation, your mind has to go blank. It doesn't have to be so. In meditation, you bring the activities of the mind into focus resulting in a 'quiet' mind. By designing physical poses and breathing techniques that develop awareness of our body, yoga helps you focus and relieves you from our everyday stress.