While the most ancient mystic practices are vaguely hinted at in theVedas, the ascetic practices (
Certainly breath control and curbing the mind was practiced since theVedic times.
Popular yoga writer Georg Feuerstein believes that yoga wasfundamental to Vedic ritual, especially to chanting the sacred hymns.
one of the earliest Upanishads (approx. 900 BCE). The main textualsources for the evolving concept of Yoga are the middleUpanishads,(ca. 400 BCE),theMahabharata(5th c. BCE) including theBhagavad Gita(ca. 200 BCE), and the
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali(300 BCE-200 BCE). Several seals discovered atIndusValley Civilization(c. 3300–1700 BC) sites depict figures in a yoga- or meditation-like posture, "a form of ritual discipline, suggesting a precursor of yoga" that point toHarappan devotion to "ritual discipline and concentration", according toArchaeologistGregory Possehl.
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
The Yoga philosophical system is closely allied with theSamkhya
The Yoga school as expounded by Patanjali accepts the Samkhya psychology and metaphysics, but is more theistic than the Samkhya, as evidenced bythe addition of a divine entity to the Samkhya's twenty-five elements of reality.
The parallels between Yoga and Samkhya were so close thatMax Müller says that"the two philosophies were in popular parlance distinguished from each other asSamkhya with and Samkhya without a Lord...."
The intimate relationship betweenSamkhya and Yoga is explained byHeinrich Zimmer :These two are regarded in India as twins, the two aspects of a single discipline.Sā
khya provides a basic theoretical exposition of human nature, enumerating anddefining its elements, analyzing their manner of co-operation in a state of bondage(
), and describing their state of disentanglement or separation in release(
), while Yoga treats specifically of the dynamics of the process for thedisentanglement, and outlines practical techniques for the gaining of release, or 'isolation-integration' (
The sagePatanjaliis widely regarded as the founder of the formal Yoga philosophy.
Patanjali's yoga is known asRaja yoga,which is a system for control of the mind.
Patanjali defines the word "yoga" in his second sutra,
which is the definitionalsutra for his entire work: