Yoga's roots began in India thousands of years ago. Yoga is one of the greatest achievements of Indian civilization, which has spread its influence far and wide.
The ancient seers used yoga as a means to explore the exterior and interior world and ultimately achieve the knowledge and wisdom of Vedas, Shastras and Upnishads which have been passed down to the world. Yoga was envolved by the ancient Indian Rishis as a practical method for complete physical, mental and spiritual transformation of an individual. Different periods of Indian history can tell the origin of Yoga.
(i) Pre-Vedic period : The excavation of Mohan-jodaro and Harappa in Indus Valley reveals that yoga was practised in some forms during that period. The idols as well as statues which were found in excavation, are in various yogic postures. The language which was used in Indus Valley Civilization, is still unknown to us, but it is sure on the basis of idols that yoga was performed during that period.
(iijxVedic period : Vedas refer to the oldest "portion of the sacred canon of Hinduism, they are four RIG, ATHARVA, SAMA and YAJUR. The word 'Yunjate' used in Rigveda gives the idea of the yoga for sense control. Some concepts of yoga are partially developed from Vedas.
(iii) Upnishads period : It is the upnishads, from which the later parts of Vedas provide the main foundation of Yoga teaching and philosophy known as Vedanta i.e., 'Absolute reality' or consciousness. The real basis of yoga can be found in upnishads. Pran and Nadis are discussed in upnishads along with the physiological effects.
(iv) Epic period : Around 6th century B.C. appeared two massive epics; the Ramayana written by Valmiki and the Mahabharata written by Vedvyasa. Various types of yogic practices were used during that period. Bhagavad Gita is perhaps the best known of all yogic scriptures.
(v) Sutra's period : The backbone is furnished by Patanjali Yoga Sutra. He was rightly called the father of Yoga, who around 200 B.C, compiled, sythesized, modified, systematised and refined yoga in a metaphysical whole.
(vi) Smriti Period : Smrities were written till about 1000 A.D. During this period, of Smriti literature, we find various change in ideas, beliefs, worship and customs. Pranayam and other purification techniques used to occupy a significant place in every ritual of people.
(vii) Medieval Period : In this period, the two cults i.e., Natha cult and Bhakti cult were very famous. The literature of these cult shows that yoga was very popular in these cults. Hathayoga was evolved and became very famous in the Natha cult. The saints of these periods used to do various yogic practices.
(viii) Modem period: Swami Vivekananda made Yoga very popular and continued to spread its knowledge outside India also. Modern men have adopted this oldest science of life as a tool for keeping the systems of the body and mind in good health. Interest in Yoga is again at high pace with good reason. Yoga is the oldest form of personal development in the world, encompassing body, mind and spirit.
Yoga has its roots in the Indus Valley Civilization. The Vedas, Upanishads, the famous epics Ramayana and Mahabharata specially the Gita, Smrities, Yogasutra are authentic evidences of development of Yoga in ancient times. The seeds of yoga were sowed and developed in India and now it is spreading all over the world by Swami Ramdev ji.