Yoga is a very large series of spiritual techniques and methods, intended to bring a person into a spectacular feeling of enlightenment and become one with the universe. During that process, students of yoga use the mind, body and spirit to reach the ultimate goal. Yoga practiced in the west, Hatha Yoga, is one of the more popular methods of the therapeutic exercise but there are dozens of different approaches and techniques. The majority of methods generally lead to the same target of enlightenment and unification.
The evolution of yoga has taken a long and fascinating road to get to the way we generally view it today.
Experts believe that the origins of yoga began to take shape in Northern India over 5000 years ago. The Rig Veda, one of the oldest sacred texts to originate out of India first made mention of yoga, and the spiritual and physical exercise began to take its fascinating shape from there.
It was around 500 BC that the most recognized yogic scriptures contained in the Bhagavad-Gita came to light. People known as the Upanishads, modified the practices of its original form to teach sacrifice of the ego through self-knowledge, wisdom and action. A combination of karma yoga and jnana yoga.
Over many centuries, yoga evolved into a system of practices to aid in the rejuvenation of the body and people believed it helped prolong a person's life. Tantra yoga arose as the most popular form. The reasons it began to garner a huge following is because of the belief it helped cleanse the body and mind to break the connection to a person's physical existence. Again, yoga continued to evolve and the mental, physical and body orientated techniques led to the creation of what the west primarily thinks of yoga, Hatha Yoga.
Right around the beginning of the 1900s, yoga masters began to take their sacred talents to the rapidly expanding western world and to their delight - were quickly surrounded by a spectacular amount of interested followers.
Swami Vivekananda, probably the most famous of all the yoga pioneers, dazzled attendees to his lectures on yoga at in 1893 at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. Yoga as we generally view it today began to take off in Hollywood, CA when Indra Devi opened her famous yoga studio in 1947. After that important date in yoga history, countless amounts of western and Indian teachers have become pioneers and have helped hatha yoga gain the millions of followers it has today.