A Brief History of Yoga

Several seals that were discovered at the Indus Valley Civilization sites which date back to 3300 to 1700 BC show drawings of figures that are in yoga or meditative-like postures.

There is a great deal of evidence supporting the idea that these pictures depict a form of ritual discipline which suggests a precursor of yoga. This was pointed out by the archaeologist Gregory Possehl.

He also points out the fact that there is sixteen other “yogi glyptics”. These images point to the fact that the yoga pose may not only have been used by deities but also by humans. Possehl makes the suggestion that yoga dates back to the early civilization in the Indus Valley.

There is a very widely known image named the Pashupati seal and it was discovered by John Marshall. He believed that this was a representation of a “proto-Shiva” figure.

Most modern authorities do not believe the idea that this so-called “Pashupati” represents a Rudra or Shiva figure. Gavin Flood states that these views are merely “speculative”.

He feels that it is not clear from this seal whether the figure is indeed seated in a yoga posture. He does not even know if this shape was supposed to represent a human figure.

There are authorities who do support the idea that this ‘Pashupati’ figure does indeed depict a figure in a meditation or a yoga posture. This idea is supported by noted archaeologist Jonathan Mark Kenover.

In 2007, terracotta seals were found in the Cholistan Desert which is located in Pakistan. One of these seals had three pictographs on one side. When the seal is turned over, there is a “yogi” on the other side.


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