History of

KOGHAN YOGA

There were several early tribes from India, Tibet and China, who migrated into Burma to escape from numerous wars between various kingdoms. The most notable one was the Pyu, pronounced “pew” from Northern India. They migrated into Burma to escape from numerous wars between various kingdoms in eastern India. They were “Brahman” or from the priestly caste. According to Hindu historians, the term “Burma” is derived from the Indian word “Brahmin”. Over centuries, the name of the country has taken many forms, such as Bharma, Bhama, Barmar, Bama and then, until recently, was known as Burma. This is the English spelling of the country they ruled for nearly a century from mid-19th Century to the mid-20th Century. 

The Pyu, whose tradition was deeply rooted in the lifestyle of the eightfold yoga system from Patanjali and the ”Yoga Sutras”, established a highly peaceful Hindu kingdom in the great Irrawaddy valley around 500 BC. They were joined by other tribes determined to live a spiritual lifestyle. One of those tribes was from Southern Tibet whose “Koghan” system of zones influenced their yoga practice. They were also known to practice different forms of Yoga such as Raja yoga, Karma yoga, Tantric yoga, Hatha yoga, Dhanda yoga, Letha yoga, Longiyoga and others. They refined the Hatha yoga system along with the other systems and created the Hanthawaddy yoga system.  By the 3rd Century AD, they had built their elegant capital at Sri Ksetra, known now as Bagan, with hundreds of golden stupas, temples and monasteries. Their high cultural ideals embraced spiritual beliefs of Brahmanism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Tantricism, Mysticism, and Shamanism. 

The Pyu settled in these river delta areas because they were fertile and protected by the mountains. The rivers carry away debris and waste as well as bring in life and fresh nutrients. These river valleys or deltas were known as Waddy. Hantha means peaceful, hence Hanthawaddy (place of peace). This yoga system developed utilizing the Khoghan system with the nine zones, the alignment of the staff (Dhanda) training, and with the controlled breath and energy meditation of Min Zin became known as Hanthawaddy (peaceful place). Our body is the place or temple. Since other streams and rivers join in the valleys there is reference to “joining” of that peaceful place. This is what we should find or establish within our temple. 

After World War II, Ba Than Gyi established the Bando Meditation Center in December 1945 in the city of Maymo in northern Burma. Ba Than Gyi also attempted to integrate some of the teachings of Anant Krishna Vaidya and the ancient Pyu monk’s system, which were still practiced by a handful of Brahmin clans in remote towns such as Homalin, Halin, Tamu, Kalamyo, and Amarapura. With his dedicated staff members, he succeeded in organizing, classifying, and categorizing various yoga postures, exercises and drills. Ba Than Gyi’s son, Dr. Maung Gyi, later brought these systems as well as other systems to America in the late 1950’s. It is practiced by a small group of dedicated students and teachers here in the U.S. under the auspices of the non-profit American Bando Association. 

Great gratitude needs to be given to Dr. Maung Gyi for sharing and restoring these systems