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Chapter: Yoga its origin, history and development

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Yoga its origin, history and development
(Take Demo Test)
  • Topics, Revision Notes and 2 Tests
  • Subject: Yoga Science

  • NIRF Yoga Certification Ranking: 27
  • Syllabus: CBSE (NCERT) + UGC NET (University Grants Commission National Eligibility Test) Based
Yoga its origin, history and development
(Read Demo Chapter)
  • Topics, Revision Notes and 2 Tests
  • Subject: Yoga Science

  • NIRF Yoga Certification Ranking: 27
  • Syllabus: CBSE (NCERT) + UGC NET (University Grants Commission National Eligibility Test) Based

Audio Chapter  

Yoga its origin, history and development



 Unit Objecives


At the end of this unit, you will be able to:


1.             Explain the roots of Yoga in India


2.             Describe the history & evoluion of Yoga


3.             Describe the journey of Yoga from India to the World


4.             Explain the contribuion of Yog Gurus in spreading Yoga to the World


The land of Yoga


The science of Yoga has its origin thousands of years ago, long before the first religion or belief systems were born. According to Yogic lore, Shiva is seen as the first yogi or ādiyogi and the first guru or ādiguru. Several thousand years ago, on the banks of Lake Kanisarovar in the Himalayas, ādiyogi poured his profound knowledge into the legendary saptarishis or "seven sages". These sages carried this powerful Yogic science to different parts of the world including Asia, the Middle East, northern Africa and South America. Interesingly, modern scholars have noted and marvelled at the close parallels found between ancient cultures across the globe. However, it was in India that the Yogic system found its fullest expression. Agastya, the saptarishi who travelled across the Indian subconinent, crafted this culture around a core Yogic way of life.




Fig: India - Land of Yoga


Yoga is widely considered as an "immortal cultural outcome" of the Indus-Saraswai Valley Civilisaion daing back to 2700 BC – and has proven itself to cater to both material and spiritual uplift of humanity. A number of seals and fossil remains of Indus-Saraswai Valley Civilisaion with Yogic moifs and figures performing Yoga sādhana suggest the presence of Yoga in ancient India. The seals and idols of Mother Goddess are suggesive of Tantra Yoga.


Paricipant Handbook


The presence of Yoga is also available in folk tradiions, Vedic and Upanishadic heritage, Buddhist and Jain tradiions, Darshanas, Ramayana, epics of Mahabharata including Bhagawad Gita and theisic tradiions of Shaivas, Vaishnavas and Tantric tradiions. Though Yoga was being praciced in the pre- Vedic period, the great sage Maharishi Patanjali systemaised and codified the then exising Yogic pracices, its meaning, and its related knowledge through Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.


After Patanjali, many sages and Yoga masters contributed greatly to the preservaion and development of the field through well-documented pracices and literature. Yoga has spread to all over the world by the teachings of eminent Yoga masters from ancient imes to the present date. Today, everybody has convicion about Yoga pracices towards the prevenion of disease, maintenance, and promoion of health. Millions and millions of people across the globe have benefited from Yoga, and the pracice of Yoga is blossoming and growing more vibrant with each passing day.



History and Evoluion of Yoga


There are many theories associated with Yoga. It is mentioned in Rig Veda, and its evidence was found in the oldest civilization of Indus-Saraswati, which is considered to be more than 5000 years old (3000 B.C.), it means Yoga is older than 5000 years. It was invented by ‘Rishi Munis’ for doing meditation, but apart from that, it has a very good effect on the body. During the journey of more than 5000 years, Yoga evolved in many forms. As explained earlier, mainly it has following four paths -


         Janan Yoga


         Bhakti Yoga


         Karma Yoga


         Raj Yoga


After Veda Period, the great ‘Mahrishi Patanjali’ created systems in Yoga. He created text which was named as ‘Patanjali Yog Sutras’. Although many other Sages or ‘Rishis’ contributed in the development of Yoga, but the effect of ‘Maharishi Patanjali’ is greatest. Due to that evolution of Yoga is divided in to the following periods -


1.            Pre-Patanjali Period (Before500BC)


2.            Patanjali Period (500 BC to 800 AD)


3.            Post Patanjali Period (800 AD onwards)




Fig: Maharishi Patanjali



1-       Pre-Patanjali Period (Before 500 BC) - It is also called as Veda Era since all Veda and Upanishads were written during this period.


Veda - These are the text which contains hymns, philosophy, and guidance for life. These are written in Sanskrit, which is considered to be the mother of all languages. The writer of Vedas are unknown, and it is considered to be the oldest written documents by a human. There are four Vedas -


1-       Rigveda


2-       Yajurveda


3-       Atharvavda 4- Samveda


Upanishads - Meaning of Upanishads is Sitting down on feet’ which means getting ‘shiksha’ or education. These are the essence of Vedas. There are more than 200 Upanishads available.



Fig: Pandulipi’ of Veda


2-       Patanjali Period (500 BC to 800 AD) - Maharishi Patanjali compiled all Yoga in a book called ‘Yog sutras’. This book has total 196 sutras or formula. The Book has four segments, called - Samadhi Pada, Sadhana Pada, Vibhuti Pada, Kaivalya Pada.


Samadhi Pada - In this segment Patanjali explains about Samadhi. Sadhana Pada - In this


segment he explains about meditation.


Vibhuti Pada - In this segment Patanjali explains about yoga.


Kaivalya Pada - In this segment Patanjali explains the connection of yoga with Body, mind, and soul. There are many exercises explained in this segment which can unite all of these.


3-       Post-Patanjali Period (800 AD onwards) - Period after Patanjali Period, which covers current period also, is called Post-Patanjali period. After Patanjali, there were many Yogis and Sants, who developed Yoga. With their own personal style, they created a new form of Yoga, but the basic form of Yoga is same in all the styles.


Modern Yoga is also called ‘Hath Yoga’ or physical Yoga. This is also related to ‘Kundalini Yoga’ which is part of ‘Raja Yoga’. Modern Yoga is a mix of all the four paths of Yoga and gives more stress on postures. For getting complete benefits of Yoga, one should have a holistic approach towards it, even without any religious inclination.



Fig: Garudasan


Journey of Yoga from India to the World


For many, the pracice of yoga is restricted to Hatha Yoga and Asanas (postures). However, among the Yoga Sutras, just three sutras are dedicated to asanas. Fundamentally, hatha yoga is a preparatory process so that the body can sustain higher levels of energy. The process begins with the body, then the breath, the mind to the inner self.


Yoga is also commonly understood as a therapy or exercise system for health and fitness. While physical and mental health is natural consequences of yoga, the goal of yoga is more far-reaching. "Yoga is about harmonizing oneself with the universe. It is the technology of aligning individual geometry with the cosmic, to achieve the highest level of percepion.


Yoga does not adhere to any paricular religion, belief system or community; it has always been approached as a technology for inner well-being. Anyone who pracices yoga with involvement can reap its benefits, irrespecive of one's faith, ethnicity or culture.


Tradiional Schools of Yoga: Different Philosophies, Tradiions, lineages and Guru-shishya tradiions of Yoga lead to the emergence of different Tradiional Schools of Yoga e.g. Janan-yoga, Bhaki-yoga, Karma-yoga, Dhyana-yoga, Patanjali-yoga, Kundalini-yoga, Hatha-yoga, Mantra-yoga, Laya-yoga, Raja-yoga, Jain-yoga, Buddha-yoga, etc. Each school has its own principles and pracices leading to ulimate aim and objecives of Yoga.


Contribuion of Yog Gurus in Spreading Yoga


Yoga has spread all over the world by the teachings of great personaliies like Swami Shivananda, Shri T.Krishnamacharya, Swami Kuvalayananda, Shri Yogendra, Swami Rama, Sri Aurobindo, Maharshi Mahesh Yogi, Acharya Rajanish, Pattabhi Jois, BKS. Iyengar and Swami Satyananda Sarasvai. B.K.S. Iyengar was the founder of the style of yoga known as "Iyengar Yoga" and was considered one of the foremost yoga type. In modern days, Sri Sri Ravishankar & Swami Ramdev has contributed a lot in spreading Yoga to the common household.



Fig: Virkshasana Pose

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