The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Yoga’s origins date back 5000 years to the beginning of human civilization. Scholars believe Yoga arose from Stone Age Shamanism.
Seals discovered at Indus Valley Civilization sites, dating to the mid 3rd millennium BC, depict figures in positions resembling a common (seated) yoga or meditation pose, showing "a form of ritual discipline, suggesting a precursor of yoga," according to archaeologists.
Hatha yoga, the physical postures that is more commonly practiced today, were depicted in yoga texts from the 1200's.
Posture in Sanskrit is 'asana' meaning ‘pausing in steadiness,’ 'moving into stillness,' and 'sitting quietly.'
Asana brings health and lightness of body, and a pleasant posture produces mental equilibrium and steadiness.
Not merely gymnastics, asanas exercise every muscle, nerve and gland in the body – offering profound healing benefits, as well as strength and suppleness.
The names of asanas are significant as they illustrate the process of evolution, or the varieties of species on the Earth. Some are named after the plant kingdom – tree (vrksa) and lotus padma); some after insects – locust (salabha) and scorpion (vrschika); some after aquatic animals – fish (matsya), tortoise (kurma), frog (bheka) or the crocodile (nakra). There are asanas named after birds – cock (kukkuta), the heron (baka), the peacock (mayura) and the swan (hamsa). Mamals have inspired asanas – dog (svana), horse ( vatayana), camal (ustra), and lion (simha). Crawling creatures are included – serpent, or cobra (bhujanga); and legendary heroes – Virabhadra (warrior) and Hanuman, son of the wind. Sages are remembered – Bharadvaja, Kapila, Vasistha and Visvamitra; as are Hindu Gods, and Avataras, or creations of divine power.
The yogi understands that while assuming many forms - a great variety of creatures, from insects to perfect Sages – the same Universal Spirit breathes equally through all. By recognizing that the highest form is that of the Formless, the yogi finds unity in universality.