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In the early 11th century, the Persian scholar Al Biruni visited India, lived with Hindus for 16 years, and with their help translated several significant Sanskrit works into Arabic and Persian languages. One of these was Patanjali's Yogasutras.[291][292] Al Biruni's translation preserved many of the core themes of Patañjali 's Yoga philosophy, but certain sutras and analytical commentaries were restated making it more consistent with Islamic monotheistic theology.[291][293] Al Biruni's version of Yoga Sutras reached Persia and Arabian peninsula by about 1050 AD. Later, in the 16th century, the hath yoga text Amritakunda was translated into Arabic and then Persian.[294] Yoga was, however, not accepted by mainstream Sunni and Shia Islam. Minority Islamic sects such as the mystic Sufi movement, particularly in South Asia, adopted Indian yoga practises, including postures and breath control.[295][296] Muhammad Ghawth, a Shattari Sufi and one of the translators of yoga text in 16th century, drew controversy for his interest in yoga and was persecuted for his Sufi beliefs.[297]
An influential text which teaches yoga from an Advaita perspective of nondualistic idealism is the Yoga-Vāsiṣṭha.[263] This work uses numerous short stories and anecdotes to illustrate its main ideas. It teaches seven stages or bhumis of yogic practice. It was a major reference for medieval Advaita Vedanta yoga scholars and before the 12th century, it was one of the most popular texts on Hindu yoga.[264]
Description of an early form of yoga called nirodhayoga (yoga of cessation) is contained in the Mokshadharma section of the 12th chapter (Shanti Parva) of the Mahabharata (third century BCE).[109] Nirodhayoga emphasizes progressive withdrawal from the contents of empirical consciousness such as thoughts, sensations etc. until purusha (Self) is realized. Terms like vichara (subtle reflection), viveka (discrimination) and others which are similar to Patanjali's terminology are mentioned, but not described.[110] There is no uniform goal of yoga mentioned in the Mahabharata. Separation of self from matter, perceiving Brahman everywhere, entering into Brahman etc. are all described as goals of yoga. Samkhya and yoga are conflated together and some verses describe them as being identical.[111] Mokshadharma also describes an early practice of elemental meditation.[112] Mahabharata defines the purpose of yoga as the experience of uniting the individual ātman with the universal Brahman that pervades all things.[111]
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Modern yoga is a physical activity consisting largely of asanas, often connected by flowing sequences called vinyasas, sometimes accompanied by the breathing exercises of pranayama, and usually ending with a period of relaxation or meditation. It is often known simply as yoga,[214] despite the existence of multiple older traditions of yoga within Hinduism where asanas played little or no part, some dating back to the Yoga Sutras, and despite the fact that in no tradition was the practice of asanas central.[215]
What is often referred to as Classical Yoga or Astanga Yoga (Yoga of eight limbs) is mainly the type of Yoga outlined in the highly influential Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[237] The origins of the Classical Yoga tradition are unclear, though early discussions of the term appear in the Upanishads.[238] The name "Rāja yoga" (yoga of kings) originally denoted the ultimate goal of yoga, samadhi,[239] but was popularised by Vivekananda as a common name for Ashtanga Yoga,[note 19] the eight limbs to be practised to attain samadhi, as described in the Yoga Sutras.[240][237] Yoga is also considered as one of the orthodox philosophical schools (darsanas) of Hinduism (those which accept the Vedas as source of knowledge).[241][242]
Some Christians integrate yoga and other aspects of Eastern spirituality with prayer and meditation. This has been attributed to a desire to experience God in a more complete way.[281] In 2013, Monsignor Raffaello Martinelli, servicing Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, having worked for over 23 years with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI),[282] said that for his Meditation, a Christian can learn from other religious traditions (zen, yoga, controlled respiration, Mantra), quoting Aspects of Christian meditation: "Just as "the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions," neither should these ways be rejected out of hand simply because they are not Christian. On the contrary, one can take from them what is useful so long as the Christian conception of prayer, its logic and requirements are never obscured. It is within the context of all of this that these bits and pieces should be taken up and expressed anew."[283] Previously, the Roman Catholic Church, and some other Christian organizations have expressed concerns and disapproval with respect to some eastern and New Age practices that include yoga and meditation.[284][285][286]
Pre-philosophical speculations of yoga begin to emerge in the texts of c. 500 – c. 200 BCE. Between 200 BCE and 500 CE, philosophical schools of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism were taking form and a coherent philosophical system of yoga began to emerge.[49] The Middle Ages saw the development of many satellite traditions of yoga. Yoga came to the attention of an educated western public in the mid 19th century along with other topics of Indian philosophy.
Similarly, Brahma sutras – the foundational text of the Vedanta school of Hinduism, discusses yoga in its sutra 2.1.3, 2.1.223 and others.[121] Brahma sutras are estimated to have been complete in the surviving form sometime between 450 BCE to 200 CE,[122][123] and its sutras assert that yoga is a means to gain "subtlety of body" and other powers.[121] The Nyaya sutras – the foundational text of the Nyaya school, variously estimated to have been composed between the 6th-century BCE and 2nd-century CE,[124][125] discusses yoga in sutras 4.2.38–50. This ancient text of the Nyaya school includes a discussion of yogic ethics, dhyana (meditation), samadhi, and among other things remarks that debate and philosophy is a form of yoga.[126][127][128]
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The earliest references to hatha yoga are in Buddhist works dating from the eighth century.[200] The earliest definition of hatha yoga is found in the 11th century Buddhist text Vimalaprabha, which defines it in relation to the center channel, bindu etc.[201] Hatha yoga synthesizes elements of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras with posture and breathing exercises.[202] It marks the development of asanas (plural) into the full body 'postures' now in popular usage[186] and, along with its many modern variations, is the style that many people associate with the word yoga today.[203]

Yoga gurus from India later introduced yoga to the West,[15] following the success of Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th and early 20th century with his adaptation of yoga tradition, excluding asanas.[15] Outside India, it has developed into a form of posture-based physical fitness, stress-relief and relaxation technique.[16] Yoga in Indian traditions, however, is more than physical exercise; it has a meditative and spiritual core.[16][17] One of the six major orthodox schools of Hinduism is also called Yoga, which has its own epistemology and metaphysics, and is closely related to Hindu Samkhya philosophy.[18]
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