References to Yoga in the Rig Veda

Aitareya Brahmana verse 1.7
The word "breath" occurs 379 times in Rig Veda's Aitareya Brahmana. Pranayama and Yoga terms "Samana", "Udana" and "Prana" together occur 147 times. Aitareya Brahmana is attributed to the sage Mahidasa who documented procedural notes related to the well known Soma, Agnistoma and Jyotistoma Yagyas. In fact Mahidasa uses the above Yoga terminology to explain the sequence of offerings made in the fire rituals. Yagya procedures are mysterious. It would not make any sense to explain them with reference to an unknown analogy. This suggests strongly that Pranayama and Yoga concepts were established by the time of Mahidasa.

The date accepted by the academic community for the Aitareya Brahmana is ~2000 BCE. However, the academic community has given a date of around 200 BCE for sage Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras. Six approaches or Darshanas, were taught in higher institutions such as the Nalanda and Taxasila Universities in the past to comprehend reality and the contents of the Vedas. One of the six Darshanas is the Yoga Darshana which is attributed to the sage Patanjali. The Yoga Darshana approach must have preceded the time of Patanjali based on the fact that much earlier works such as the Brahmanas explain Vedic procedures using Yoga concepts. According to oral traditions Yoga is more than 6000 years old.

The six Darshanas are the Nyaya (logic), the Vaisesika (atomic logic), the Sankhya (analysis on the lines of the periodic table of elements),the Yoga, the Purva Mimamsa (rituals) and the Uttara Mimamsas (Vedanta). Sankhya and Yoga Darshanas are complementary. Patanjali analyzes the observer's mind with respect to its state of peace and stillness in his Yoga Darshana while Kanada analyses the field of observation in his Sankhya darshana.  Yoga Darshana, like a majority of the others is secular in nature. Patanjali uses the term "Ishawar" or God in only one Sutra. Darshanas approach learning through the use of induction and deduction whereas the learning process used by a young child to master the Vedas is oriented towards psychological principles.