When you look at the cover of Yoga Journal and see a skinny white lady in $100 yoga pants doing acrobatics, you are looking at a very modern, very American version of yoga. Which is not to say that asana (postures) aren’t yoga.
Instagram yoga is yoga. Ashtanga yoga is yoga. Iyengar yoga is yoga. Chanting is yoga. Reading and studying sacred texts is yoga. Writing poetry is yoga. Meditation is yoga.
Sometimes I think that my definition of yoga looks a little like the congressional definition of pornography: I can’t exactly define it, but I know it when I see it.
I do think it’s useful to know a little about the very beginning, because sometimes that helps us understand where we are now.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive, exact, academic history of the timeline of yoga. I will get things wrong, but this gives us a through-line of the practice right until today on your mat.
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So, let’s do it this way: