Chronology of Yoga

By Himanshu JoshiYogaChronology of Yoga, yoga

In India

Exact dates are extremely difficult to pinpoint when looking at Yoga’s ancient history as many teachings were orally transmitted. The dates below form a rough guide:

  • 2,500 – 1,500 BCE — Indus Valley civilization, where carved figures depicted in what may be seated meditation postures were found. Untranslatable text accompanies the figures.
  • 1,000 BCE – The Vedas are composed. “Veda” means knowledge. These teachings describe rituals, hymns, practices and spells.
  • 700 BCE – The oldest Upanishads are written. A collection of orally transmitted teachings.
  • 500 BCE – The Bhagavad Gita is written. Concepts of rebirth and a broadening on the practice of yoga are clearly explained.
  • 200 CE – The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are composed. Short, well-organised verses explaining the nature of the self and an approach to self-realisation.
  • 600 CE – The beginnings of Tantra Yoga.
  • 800 CE – Sankara’s “ Advaita Vedanta” school of non-dual philosophy is formulated.
  • 900 CE — Kashmir Saivism. One of the more clearly articulated non-dual yoga philosophies, reliant on the transmission of grace from guru to student, called “Shaktipat.”
  • 900 CE (?) – Rajanaka Tantra. Horizontal model of yoga without the concept of singular, fixed attainment or enlightenment.


Contemporary Yoga

  • 1900s — Hatha Yoga. Tirumalai Krishnamacharya was responsible for preserving, evolving and popularizing Hatha Yoga. Teacher of B.K.S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, Indra Devi and his son Desikachar, among many others.
  • 1950s – B.K.S. Iyengar develops his system of yoga based on physical alignment and therapeutic benefits, using props to make postures more accessible.
  • 1960s — Hatha Yoga begins to take root in the west.
  • 1970s — present – Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga as taught by Pattabhi Kois gains popularity.
  • 1980s – present – Flowing styles of Yoga based on the physically demanding form of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga become widely popular.
  • 1997 – present – John Friend interpretation of Tantric philosophy joined with modern bio-mechanical alignment principles into a school of yoga called “Anusara” – Sanskrit word meaning “to be in the flow of grace.”
  • ? – present – Dr. Douglas Brooks offering of the Southern Indian teachings of Tantra, which he refers to as “Rajanaka.” This is a horizontal model of yoga with no fixed attainment as a goal. Enlightenment is self-conferred, not dispensed by a guru.


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