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Do you know the history of yoga meditation?

Do you know the history of yoga meditation?

While you may have heard of yoga, or even tried some yoga stretching poses, you likely still know only a little about this physical and spiritual exercise. The history of yoga meditation is rich and long, and it’s something that you may want to research before you go to your next class. For example, the American Yoga Association states that while no one knows exactly when yoga began, it is believed to predate written history.

The AYA explains that there have been stone carvings in archeological sites in the Indus Valley that date back 5,000 years or even more. RandomHistory.com explains that yoga was likely born in India, and then was adopted by Hinduism as well as Buddhism and Jainism. While there are many different branches of yoga, there is usually a common theme – which is to focus on your consciousness.

One thing is certain – yoga has been widely embraced by Westerners, and it is now quite common to find people practicing yoga not only studios, but in parks and other public outdoor spaces. Now that you know a little more about this practice, you should consider trying it out yourself if you haven’t already.

Older women can turn to yoga books for beginners, not supplements, for better health

Older women can turn to yoga books for beginners, not supplements, for better health

Reading yoga books for beginners and practicing the gentle maneuvers may be a reliable way to get healthier, particularly in light of a popular CNN article that suggests that taking supplements may not be as beneficial to one's well-being as previously reported. While most Americans know that exercising and eating a nutritious diet are key to striving for their full potential, it may come as a surprise to those who supplement their food intake with multivitamins that this practice could actually be detrimental.

A recent study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine reported that nutrients like iron, folic acid, vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc and copper have been associated with a mildly increased risk of earlier death, particularly among older women.

"Taking more of what we think is a good thing may not be so good," said researcher Susan Fisher from the University of Rochester Medical Center, quoted by CNN. "High levels of nutrient supplements may be harmful, or at least not helpful."

She and her team emphasized that further investigation is needed before a definite conclusion is made. Meanwhile, American women may want to continue eating a healthy diet and engaging in an exercise like yoga. Throughout the history of yoga meditation, the holistic regimen has been shown to improve many enthusiasts' physical, mental and emotional well-being.

history of yoga meditation

In the digital age, the history of yoga meditation is more relevant than ever

Though they may sound old-fashioned or understimulating, yoga meditation techniques have been honing humanity's mental processes for thousands of years. In a recent article in New York Magazine, psychological and neurological experts argued that, these days, understimulation is exactly what our overheated brains need.

The history of yoga meditation begins more than five millennia ago, in the Asian interior, where holistic notions about mental and physical healing were just being formed.

According to researchers at the University of Florida, the origins of meditation may pre-date even the earliest Indian and East Asian records of the practice. Scientists at the university speculate that primitive man may have discovered the purifying sensation of rumination while staring in the flames of cookfires.

Over the centuries, monks, philosophers and yoga practitioners honed the process of meditation, adding elements to the activity that still exist today. The Yoga Journal recently defined the contemporary form of meditation as a sort of inner exploration crossed with moral and spiritual contemplation.

Such mental depth is much needed in today's hectic workaday world. Science writer Winifred Gallagher told New York Magazine that meditation can help people focus, particularly in situations in which the background noise of one's environment takes up the majority of one's attention.

Gallagher, the author of the book Rapt, a treatise on attention, told the periodical that neuroscientists are fascinated with yoga meditation, which seems to improve everything from the speed of one's thoughts to the breadth of one's visual field.

Gallagher explained that, with the availability of meditation classes almost everywhere, there is little excuse for our distractibility.

"Once you understand how attention works and how you can make the most productive use of it, if you continue to just jump in the air every time your phone rings or pounce on those buttons every time you get an instant message, that’s not the machine’s fault. That’s your fault," she concluded.

"Darkness and silence wonderfully promote meditation. Thus free and abstracted from those outward objects which dissipate attention, I am left to my own thoughts." -Pliny the Younger

Top five quotes from the history of yoga meditation, solitary contemplation

The history of yoga meditation is a long one, and its beginnings are all but lost in the mists of time. After all, people have been making use of peaceful contemplation and deliberate poses for millennia. However, meditation is something that anyone can do, even those who are unfamiliar with the tenets of yoga.

With that in mind, here are five of the most popular quotes from history's luminaries concerning basic contemplation and yoga meditation techniques.

1. Pliny the Younger (62-113 AD)
"I get up just when I please, generally about sunrise, often earlier, but seldom later than this. I keep the shutters closed, as darkness and silence wonderfully promote meditation. Thus free and abstracted from those outward objects which dissipate attention, I am left to my own thoughts." -Letter to Fuscus

2. William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
"Close up his eyes and draw the curtain close/ And let us all to meditation." -King Henry VI, Part II

3. Thomas Traherne (1636-1674)
"Sure, Man was born to meditate on things,/ And to contemplate the eternal springs/ Of God and Nature, glory, bliss, and pleasure;/ That life and love might be his Heavenly treasure." -"Dumbness"

4. Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883)
"At this spot I love to meditate, as I watch the sunset; it suits a recluse like me. And there, a little farther off, I have planted some of the trees beloved of Horace." -Fathers and Children

5. H.G. Wells (1866-1946)
"While he was in this mood he met one of those wandering ascetics who already existed in great numbers… These men lived under severe rules, spending much time in meditation and in religious discussion. They were supposed to be seeking some deeper reality in life, and a passionate desire to do likewise took possession of [him]."
 -A Short History of the World