The Rigveda talks of Yoga, as a physical and spiritual discipline, with origins in pre- Vedic times. It has several schools, practices, and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali date from the first half of the 1st millennium CE, and became popular in the West only in the 20th century. Hatha yoga texts with its origins in Tantra, emerged around the 11th century CE. After Swami Vivekananda's popularity in the late 19th and early 20th century, yoga teachers or gurus from India introduced this 'New Age' discipline to the west.

Though practiced in Western countries for its physical benefits, yoga has a meditative and spiritual core in Indian traditions. Nowadays, yoga is a complete exercise program and physical therapy routines with the physical postures of yoga used to alleviate health problems, reduce stress and make the spine supple.

The various schools of Yoga fall broadly into 4 main categories:

  • Gyan Yoga or Philosophy
  • Bhakti Yoga or Path of Devotional Bliss
  • Karma Yoga or Path of Blissful Action
  • Raja Yoga or Path of Mind Control. The Yoga Asana is the heart of the Raja Yoga system, balancing and unifying the various schools or practices.

A few myths about Yoga:

  • -It's all about intricate Asanas or postures.
    • It's not. There are over 200 Yoga Sutras and only one of them is dedicated to Asanas. But nowadays, this sutra is the one most people are familiar with. Each asana, mudra, and technique of breathing is focused towards attaining your higher nature.
  • -Yoga Gives You 6 pack abs.
    • Yoga is not only about fitness. It's healthy, but you won't get bulging muscles. It's not about building muscling or burning fat only. Yoga is not competitive by nature, rather it is subtle, harmonious, and gentle. Yoga teachers in gyms who urge you to go faster or force you into poses that you may find painful or not yet ready for may put you at risk of injury.
  • -It's Chill Out Time
    • Yes, it's to relax your mind and find inner peace. However, the No Talking rule isn't just a guideline- it's a rule for all forms of traditional yoga. Focusing on breathing and the stability of energy is extremely important to the asana being performed, and speaking destroys the goal you are trying to achieve.

An important aspect of yoga practice- often overlooked, except as a fashion statement are clothing. You wear clothes that you can just forget about during yoga practice.

    -Practitioners term Yoga as 'practice' for a reason. It's not about the competition, opinions or conforming to conventional beauty. Yoga is an introspective journey that you can go on even when not dressed stylishly.

    -Choose clothing that is comfortable and allows easy movement. Avoid clothing that can fall down around your knees, bunch up around your waist while in inverted positions or inadvertently expose more than you'd planned.

You're doing it right when you relax and are comfortable with your body. Voice your concerns to your guru or teacher feel any sort of pain or discomfort in any asana or posture.