The Vedic Yoga period begins at the very dawn of yoga’s history.
Dating back to 500 BC, this Vedic era is the true foundation of all Yoga.
Translated from the ancient Sanskrit text:
VEDA = KNOWLEDGE // YOGA = UNION, TO UNITE
The Vedas are perhaps the oldest existing text known to man, containing ancient teachings of the Hindu lifestyle. Serving as a compilation of sacred rituals and hymns, these incredible writings have been practiced as early as 1500 BC.
Though the ancient Vedas were based within the Hindu lifestyle, the writings were not limited solely to the practice of Hinduism. Throughout history, it seems that the Vedas also influenced Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. This speaks volumes about what they are teaching us! All of the religions may have been different, however they could agree to accept, use and benefit from the scriptures and practices.
The most significant pieces of the Vedas are considered the Four Vedas.
- Rig Veda ~ “Knowledge of Praise”
- Same Veda ~ “Knowledge of Chants”
- Eager Veda ~ “Knowledge of Sacrifice”
- Atharva Veda ~ “Knowledge of Atharvan”
The Rig Veda
Also considered the Book of Mantra, the oldest Veda written provides some of the most ancient and sacred hymns (suktas). Divided into eight chapters (adhayayas), the collection of mantras totaled 1,017 hymns and were separated into the chapters due to multiple authors (seers).
Known as the Book of Song, Sama Veda provides hymns (suktas) pulled almost entirely from the Rig Veda. This book differs in the sense that it has no specific lessons to teach, however majorly serves within the main foundation of Vedic Philosophy. The sounds found in the Sama Veda were chants and melodies practitioners used to accompany sacrifices.
The Book of Ritual is just as it says. The Yajur Veda was an absolute collection of recorded ceremonial practices. Until this Book was written, everything was entirely passed down through the practice of ceremonies and rituals themselves. Yajur Veda served as written guidance to learn from, as opposed to all visual and verbal teachings.
The Final major Veda is the Book of Spell. Filed with magical incantations, philosophical hymns and metaphysical texts that transcend the previous Vedic writings. Scholars view the Atharva Veda as the second most important teachings (after the Rig Veda). Serving as a magnificent collection of music for all occasions and written guidance to teach practitioners to surpass the physical world through sound, ritual and chanting combined.
Despite the fact that these were written Thousands of years ago, and that we might never actually practice any of it ourselves, I believe it is important to know that they exist. The Vedas might seem outlandish, cult-like and extreme, however, they are the true roots of the teachings of Yoga and how what We know as “Yoga” came into fruition.