The term yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj [yu-ʤ], meaning to bind or
yoke. The exact dates of the inception of yoga are uncertain, but researchers believe the
practice originated in India around 3000 B.C. Early archaeological evidence is found in
stone seals that depict yoga poses dating to this time period. Scholars believe that the
roots of yoga existed long before, and have traced its origins back to Stone Age
Shamanism. Both of these ancient cultures advocated similar beliefs that were thought to
better the lives of individuals and strengthen a sense of community.
Yoga is better understood when broken down into four historical periods. First,
the Vedic Period during which The Vedas, the oldest scriptures of Hindu, were written.
The time of this period is uncertain yet philological and linguistic documentation
indicates that The Vedas were composed between 1700 and 1100 B.C. The end of the
period occurred in 500 B.C. The Vedas are considered to be the oldest teachings of yoga,
known as Vedic Yoga. People sought to live in total harmony with nature and their
immediate families during the Vedic Period.