Important moments in yoga history


early Indus River Valley civilization

Approx. 1800 BCE

finding of artifacts depicting seated yogic postures

Vedic Age

1500 BCE - 1000 BCE

migrating, armored clans from north and east merge with settled
agrarian villagers in Indian sub-continent to merge means of survival
ritualistic, didactic, authoritative priestly intercessors
The Vedas = spiritual texts, hymns & chants. Rig Veda most known
and influential for future of yoga

Sramanic Stream

800 BCE

seekers, known as “rishis,” reject priestly authority and set out looking
for a direct experience of cosmic reality; pivotal period of human
thought that sees new ideas sweeping the globe, from China to
sram = to exert effort
somewhere between 600 and 400 BCE Siddhartha Gautama (the
Buddha), sets out as of these rishis


700 BCE - 200 BCE

The Upanishads (“sitting down at the feet of”) - collections of mystical
treatises, stories, songs & poetry expressing what the rishis have

Epic Period

300 BCE - 200 BCE

The Bhagavad Gita = “song of the lord” generally accepted as an
earlier work from the Upanishads set down into the larger work of the
Mahabharata in order to disseminate it as a key teaching tale; sets the
foundation of yoga as a way of life (“yoga is to break the bonds of

Scholastic Period

200 CE

Buddhism can be considered the 7th of the darshanas, but the
Buddhaʼs teachings are widely accepted as considerably influenced by
yogic practices and beliefs.

Hatha Yoga Pradipika


first time we see yoga asana described in detail

Vivekananda Brings Yoga to the West


Swami Vivekananda speaks at the Worldʼs Congress of
Religions in Chicago for the first formal introduction yoga
practice and thought to the west. He speaks about the
philosophy and demonstrates asana.

The Krishnamacharya Influence

1930 - 1980

Krishnamacharya (1888 - 1989) is the noted as the most influential teacher of the four teachers whose
methods inform and permeate most every yoga style currently practiced in the West today
– TKV Desikachar (his son) father of the Viniyoga tradition, known for one-on-one healing and therapeutic applications
– BKS Iyengar! ! ! ! father of Iyengar Yoga, known for emphasis on strict alignment and use of props
– Pathabi Jois! ! ! ! father of Ashtanga Yoga, known for its sequenced flow of asana (Vinyasa yoga is the child of Ashtanga yoga)
– Indra Devi! ! ! ! first well-noted female yoga guru, known as the “First Lady of Yoga” in Hollywood beginning in the late 1940ʼs

Yoga Journal publishes first magazine