Yogic and Vedic

Margaret Kruszewska

I attended a  presentation today on yoga and noticed that the lecturer used the terms “Vedic” and “yogic” interchangeably.  While not entirely wrong, it not really right either!  There are schools of yoga that consider yoga to have arisen from the Vedic traditions, (the written text of the Vedas), however yogic practices existed before Vedic times. 

This may all seem like “too much information” for someone who just wants a good stretch in the morning but it’s important to know the history of your tradition -and that’s true for any religion or spiritual practice. People adapt practices to their social, psychological, environmental and political needs.  That has been true throughout history.  Jesus did not practice Christianity-that was formed much later.

Prevalent practices existed (like female shamanism) or visionary practitioners appeared (like Buddha) and then groups of people started forming and, most importantly, these followers started writing down what the practices are (just as Jesus did not write the Gospels, his followers were the scribes).

When sorting out the history of yogic practices it’s important to realize that the practices would have existed long before they were notated or commented on.  Another important reason to understand this history is that the Vedas contain a lot of other philosophies that have nothing to do with yoga.

I may be splitting hairs but participating in the yogic practices also means learning about them and how they differ from Vedic traditions which became guarded by brahmins (caste of scholar-priests) and resulted in the exclusion of others.   But that’s a whole other topic…

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