The assignment is simple. In one minute (NPR suggests 180/200 words per minute.), tell me what is yoga and whence it comes. Here's my take:
An ancient practice of breath, movement, and meditation: this is yoga.
It is, by some accounts, thousands of years old. A 2,500 BC yogi was unearthed in western India back in the 1990s. He was seated in Sukhasana (seated meditation) with his hands in gyan mudra (thumbs and forefingers pressed together). The practice has, like many ancient practices, waxed and waned over the years, but it’s been with us for a long time.
Many modern yogis can trace their lineage back to the 1800s. Some go back as far as the 1600s, and Sikhism claims a lineage back to the 15th century. Regardless, there are records and texts mentioning yoga dating back before the Common Era. It’s been with us for a long time.
Longevity does not, by itself, sell me on the idea. There are many ancient practices that have been discredited over the years. Longevity does, however lend some credibility.
And then there’s science and fact.
Science backs up yoga’s health and mental benefits. Science backs up meditation’s benefits. Science backs up the strength and flexibility benefits. And on a personal level, purely anecdotally, I can say that yoga has changed my life.
That’s my elevator pitch. Give yoga a try.