Yoga has a long and winding history that stems from India, with the word first being mentioned in Sanskrit in an ancient text that is about 5000 years old! Not only was the text sacred, but it was also used by priests to aid with rituals, with establishing a sacred and quiet space for meditation and representing the spiritual journey. Keeping Yoga’s ancient origins in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s practice has undergone several “periods.”
Developed in Northern India, yoga was mentioned in the collection of texts that contained the mantras and songs utilized by clergymen and monks. Mystic seers then grew the practice of Yoga and documented all of its beliefs. By 500 B.C.E. the ideas of ritual sacrifice of the ego through self-knowledge, action, and wisdom came to be.
The most defining moment of the Classical Yoga period was the creation of the Yoga-Sûtras by Patanjali (widely considered the “Father of Yoga”). He created the concept of the “eight-limbed path,” a form of yoga practice with steps and stages that aid one in obtaining enlightenment (Samadhi).
Unlike the previous two periods, which focused on the spiritual aspect of yoga, the Post-Classical age was central to creating practices relating to the physical body. Alongside the development of several radical techniques, the concept of “embracing the corporeal” as a means to achieve enlightenment became fundamental to the exploration of the physical-spiritual relationship within yoga.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s yoga began to attract worldwide attention. Travelling yogis (Yoga masters) created schools, gave awe-inspiring lectures at notable international universities, and published books that helped establish the practice and all of its many styles. Yoga’s popularity skyrocketed with the first Western Yoga studio opening in 1947 in Hollywood. This helped cement it as a cultural phenomenon that retains its fame today.
If you want to read more, you can enjoy a detailed explanation of Yoga’s history here: https://www.yogabasics.com/learn/history-of-yoga/