Yoga (Sanskrit: , IAST: "yóga", IPA2|joːgə) refers to traditional physical and mental disciplines originating in India, to the goal achieved by those disciplines, and to one of the six orthodox (āstika) schools of Hindu philosophy. ["Yoga has five principal meanings: 1) yoga as a disciplined method for attaining a goal; 2) yoga as techniques of controlling the body and the mind; 3) yoga as a name of one of the schools or systems of philosophy ("IAST|darśana"); 4) yoga in connection with other words, such as "hatha-, mantra-, and laya-", referring to traditions specialising in particular techniques of yoga; 5) yoga as the goal of yoga practice." Jacobsen, p. 4.] [Monier-Williams includes "it is the second of the two Sāṃkhya systems," and "mental abstraction practised as a system (as taught by Patañjali and called the Yoga philosophy)" in his definitions of "yoga".]

Major branches of a yoga include Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Hatha Yoga.Pandit Usharbudh Arya (1985). The philosophy of hatha yoga. Himalayan Institute Press; 2nd ed.] Sri Swami Rama (2008) The royal path: Practical lessons on yoga. Himalayan Institute Press; New Ed edition.] Swami Prabhavananda (Translator), Christopher Isherwood (Translator), Patanjali (Author). (1996). Vedanta Press; How to know god: The yoga aphorisms of Patanjali. New Ed edition.] Raja Yoga, compiled in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and known simply as yoga in the context of Hindu philosophy, is part of the Samkhya tradition. [Jacobsen, p. 4.] Many other Hindu texts discuss aspects of yoga, including the Vedas, Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Shiva Samhita and various Tantras.

The Sanskrit word "yoga" has many meanings [For a list of 38 meanings of the word "yoga" see: Apte, p. 788.] , and is derived from the Sanskrit root "yuj", meaning "to control, to yoke" or "to unite." [For "yoga" as derived from the Sanskrit root "yuj" with meanings of "to control", "to yoke, or "to unite" see: Flood (1996), p. 94.] Translations include "joining, uniting, union, conjunction", and "means." [For meaning 1. joining, uniting, and 2., union, junction, combination see: Apte, p. 788.] [For "mode, manner, means", see: Apte, p. 788, definition 5.] [For "expedient, means in general", see: Apte, p. 788, definition 13.] Outside India, the term "yoga" is typically associated with Hatha Yoga and its asanas (postures) or as a form of exercise. A practitioner of Yoga is called a Yogi (unisex term) or Yogini (for female).

History of Yoga

While the most ancient mystic practices are vaguely hinted at in the Vedas, the ascetic practices ("tapas") are referenced in the IAST|Brāhmaṇas (900 BCE and 500 BCE), [Flood, p. 94.] early commentaries on the Vedas. The Rig Veda, earliest of the Hindu scripture mentions the practice. [ P. 51 "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Yoga" By Joan Budilovsky, Eve Adamson ] Robert Schneider and Jeremy Fields write, "Yoga asanas were first prescribed by the ancient Vedic texts thousands of years ago and are said to directly enliven the body's inner intelligence." [ P. 170 "Total Heart Health" By Robert H. Schneider, Jeremy Z. Fields ] Certainly breath control and curbing the mind was practiced since the Vedic times. [ P. 531 "The Yoga Tradition" By Georg Feuerstein ] It is believed that yoga was fundamental to Vedic ritual, especially to chanting the sacred hymns [ P. 538 "The Yoga Tradition" By Georg Feuerstein ]

In the Upanishads, an early reference to meditation is made in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, [Flood, p. 94.] one of the earliest Upanishads (approx. 900 BCE). The main textual sources for the evolving concept of Yoga are the middle Upanishads, (ca. 400 BCE), the Mahabharata (5th c. BCE) including the Bhagavad Gita (ca. 200 BCE), and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (200 BCE-300 CE).

Several seals discovered at Indus Valley Civilization (c. 3300–1700 BC) sites depict figures in a yoga- or meditation-like posture, "a form of ritual discipline, suggesting a precursor of yoga" that point to Harappan devotion to "ritual discipline and concentration", according to Archaeologist Gregory Possehl. [Possehl (2003), pp. 144-145] According to prof. Egbert Richter Ushanas, concerning the IVC seals he has said, "All the seals are based on Vedas -- Rig Veda and Atharva Veda." [ [ The Indus Script and the Rgveda] by Egbert Richter Ushanas ] [ [ German Indologist claims to have decoded Indus scripts] ]

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

In Indian philosophy, Yoga is the name of one of the six orthodox philosophical schools. [For an overview of the six orthodox schools, with detail on the grouping of schools, see: Radhakrishnan and Moore, "Contents", and pp. 453-487.] [For a brief overview of the Yoga school of philosophy see: Chatterjee and Datta, p. 43.] The Yoga philosophical system is closely allied with the Samkhya school. [For close connection between Yoga philosophy and Samkhya, see: Chatterjee and Datta, p. 43.] The Yoga school as expounded by Patanjali accepts the Samkhya psychology and metaphysics, but is more theistic than the Samkhya, as evidenced by the addition of a divine entity to the Samkhya's twenty-five elements of reality. [For Yoga acceptance of Samkhya concepts, but with addition of a category for God, see: Radhakrishnan and Moore, p. 453.] [For Yoga as accepting the 25 principles of Samkhya with the addition of God, see: Chatterjee and Datta, p. 43.] The parallels between Yoga and Samkhya were so close that Max Müller says that "the two philosophies were in popular parlance distinguished from each other as Samkhya with and Samkhya without a Lord...." [Müller (1899), Chapter 7, "Yoga Philosophy", p. 104.] The intimate relationship between Samkhya and Yoga is explained by Heinrich Zimmer:

These two are regarded in India as twins, the two aspects of a single discipline. IAST|Sāṅkhya provides a basic theoretical exposition of human nature, enumerating and defining its elements, analyzing their manner of co-operation in a state of bondage ("bandha"), and describing their state of disentanglement or separation in release ("IAST|mokṣa"), while Yoga treats specifically of the dynamics of the process for the disentanglement, and outlines practical techniques for the gaining of release, or 'isolation-integration' ("kaivalya"). [Zimmer (1951), p. 280.]

The sage Patanjali is widely regarded as the founder of the formal Yoga philosophy. [For Patanjali as the founder of the philosophical system called Yoga see: Chatterjee and Datta, p. 42.] Patanjali's yoga is known as Raja yoga, which is a system for control of the mind. [For "raja yoga" as a system for control of the mind and connection to Patanjali's Yoga Sutras as a key work, see: Flood (1996), pp. 96-98.] Patanjali defines the word "yoga" in his second sutra, which is the definitional sutra for his entire work:

"IAST|योग: चित्त-वृत्ति निरोध:
( yogaś citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ )
- Yoga Sutras 1.2

This terse definition hinges on the meaning of three Sanskrit terms. I. K. Taimni translates it as "Yoga is the inhibition ("IAST|nirodhaḥ") of the modifications ("IAST|vṛtti") of the mind ("IAST|citta")". [For text and word-by-word translation as "Yoga is the inhibition of the modifications of the mind" see: Taimni, p. 6.] Swami Vivekananda translates the sutra as "Yoga is restraining the mind-stuff (Citta) from taking various forms (Vrittis)." [Vivekanada, p. 115.]

Patanjali's writing also became the basis for a system referred to as "Ashtanga Yoga" ("Eight-Limbed Yoga"). This eight-limbed concept derived from the 29th Sutra of the 2nd book, and is a core characteristic of practically every Raja yoga variation taught today. The Eight Limbs are::(1) "Yama" (The five "abstentions"): non-violence, non-lying, non-covetousness, non-sensuality, and non-possessiveness.:(2) "Niyama" (The five "observances"): purity, contentment, austerity, study, and surrender to god.:(3) "Asana": Literally means "seat", and in Patanjali's Sutras refers to the seated position used for meditation.:(4) "Pranayama" ("Lengthening Prāna"): "Prāna", life force, or vital energy, particularly, the breath, "āyāma", to lengthen or extend. Also interpreted as control of prana.:(5) "Pratyahara" ("Abstraction"): Withdrawal of the sense organs from external objects.:(6) "Dharana" ("Concentration"): Fixing the attention on a single object.:(7) "Dhyana" ("Meditation"): Intense contemplation of the nature of the object of meditation.:(8) "Samadhi" ("Liberation"): merging consciousness with the object of meditation.

Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita ('Song of the Lord'), uses the term "yoga" extensively in a variety of ways. In addition to an entire chapter (ch. 6) dedicated to traditional yoga practice, including meditation, [Flood, p. 10.] it introduces three prominent types of yoga: ["...Bhagavad Gita, including a complete chapter (ch. 6) devoted to traditional yoga practice. The Gita also introduces the famous three kinds of yoga, 'knowledge' (jnana), 'action' (karma), and 'love' (bhakti)." Flood, p. 96.]

*Karma yoga: The yoga of action
*Bhakti yoga: The yoga of devotion
*Jnana yoga: The yoga of knowledge

Madhusudana Sarasvati (b. circa 1490) divided the Gita into three sections, with the first six chapters dealing with Karma yoga, the middle six with Bhakti yoga, and the last six with Jnana (knowledge). [ Gambhirananda, p. 16.] Other commentators ascribe a different 'yoga' to each chapter, delineating eighteen different yogas. [Jacobsen, p. 46.]

Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga is a particular system of Yoga described by Yogi Swatmarama, compiler of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika in 15th century India. Hatha Yoga differs substantially from the Raja Yoga of Patanjali in that it focuses on "shatkarma", the purification of the physical body as leading to the purification of the mind ("ha"), and "prana", or vital energy ("tha"). [Living Yoga: Creating a Life Practice - Page 42 by Christy Turlington (page 42)] [Guiding Yoga's Light: Yoga Lessons for Yoga Teachers - Page 10 by Nancy Gerstein ] Compared to the seated asana, or sitting meditation posture, of Patanjali's Raja yoga, [Mindfulness Yoga: The Awakened Union of Breath Body & Mind - Page 6 by Frank Jude Boccio] it marks the development of "asanas" (plural) as full body 'postures' now in popular usage.Hatha Yoga: Its Context, Theory and Practice By Mikel Burley (page 16)]

Hatha Yoga in its many modern variations is the style that many people associate with the word "Yoga" today. [Feuerstein, Georg. (1996). "The Shambhala Guide to Yoga". Boston & London: Shambhala Publications, Inc.] Because its emphasis is on the body through "asana" and "pranayama" practice, many western students are satisfied with the physical health and vitality it develops and are not interested in the other seven limbs of the Raja Yoga tradition.Fact|date=September 2008

Yoga practices in other traditions

Yoga and Sufism

The development of Sufism was considerably influenced by Indian yogic practises, where they adapted both physical postures (asanas) and breath control (pranayama). [ [ Situating Sufism and Yoga] ] The ancient Indian yogic text, Amritakunda, ("Pool of Nectar)" was translated into Arabic and Persian as early as the 11th century. [ [ Carolina Seminar on Comparative Islamic Studies] ]

Yoga and Buddhism

Yoga is intimately connected to the religious beliefs and practices of the Indian religions. [The Yoga Tradition: its history, literature, philosophy and practice By Georg Feuerstein. ISBN 8120819233. pg 111] The influence of Yoga is also visible in Buddhism, a descendant of Hinduism, which is distinguished by its austerities, spiritual exercises, and trance states. [ [ "Yoga," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2007 © 1997-2007 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.] Exact Quote : "The strong influence of Yoga can also be seen in Buddhism, which is notable for its austerities, spiritual exercises, and trance states."] Zen Buddhism: A History (India and China) By Heinrich Dumoulin, James W. Heisig, Paul F. Knitter (page 22)]

Yogacara Buddhism

Yogacara (Sanskrit: "Practice of Yoga [Union] " [ [ Encyclopedia Britannica Article: Yogacara] ] ), also spelled yogāchāra, is a school of philosophy and psychology that developed in India during the 4th to 5th centuries.

Yogacara received the name as it provided a "yoga", a framework for engaging in the practices that lead to the path of the bodhisattva. [Dan Lusthaus. Buddhist Phenomenology: A Philosophical Investigation of Yogacara Buddhism and the Ch'eng Wei-shih Lun. Published 2002 (Routledge). ISBN 0700711864. pg 533] The Yogacara sect teaches "yoga" in order to reach enlightenment.Simple Tibetan Buddhism: A Guide to Tantric Living By C. Alexander Simpkins, Annellen M. Simpkins. Published 2001. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 0804831998]

Ch'an (Seon/Zen) Buddhism

Zen (the name of which derives from the Sanskrit "dhyana" via the Chinese "ch'an" [ The Buddhist Tradition in India, China, and Japan. Edited by William Theodore de Bary. Pgs. 207-208.ISBN 0-394-71696-5 - "The Meditation school, called "Ch'an" in Chinese from the Sanskrit "dhyāna", is best known in the West by the Japanese pronunciation "Zen"] ) is a form of Mahayana Buddhism. The Mahayana school of Buddhism is noted for its proximity with Yoga. In the west, Zen is often set alongside Yoga; the two schools of meditation display obvious family resemblances. [ Zen Buddhism: A History (India and China) By Heinrich Dumoulin, James W. Heisig, Paul F. Knitter (Page xviii) ] This phenomenon merits special attention since the Zen Buddhist school of meditation has some of its roots in yogic practices. [Zen Buddhism: A History (India and China) By Heinrich Dumoulin, James W. Heisig, Paul F. Knitter (page 13). Translated by James W. Heisig, Paul F. Knitter. Contributor John McRae. Published 2005 World Wisdom. 387 pages. ISBN 0941532895 [Exact quote: "This phenomenon merits special attention since yogic roots are to be found in the Zen Buddhist school of meditation."] ] Certain essential elements of Yoga are important both for Buddhism in general and for Zen in particular.Zen Buddhism: A History (India and China) By Heinrich Dumoulin, James W. Heisig, Paul F. Knitter (page 13)]

Tibetan Buddhism

Yoga is central to Tibetan Buddhism. In the Nyingma tradition, practitioners progress to increasingly profound levels of yoga, starting with Mahā yoga, continuing to Anu yoga and ultimately undertaking the highest practice, Ati yoga. In the Sarma traditions, the Anuttara yoga class is equivalent. Other tantra yoga practices include a system of 108 bodily postures practiced with breath and heart rhythm. Timing in movement exercises is known as Trul khor or union of moon and sun (channel) prajna energies. The body postures of Tibetan ancient yogis are depicted on the walls of the Dalai Lama's summer temple of Lukhang. A semi-popular account of Tibetan Yoga by Chang (1993) refers to Dumo, the generation of heat in one's own body, as being "the very foundation of the whole of Tibetan Yoga" (Chang, 1993, p7). Chang also claims that Tibetan Yoga involves reconciliation of apparent polarities, such as prana and mind, relating this to theoretical implications of tantrism.

Yoga and Tantra

Tantrism is a practice that is supposed to alter the relation of its practitioners to the ordinary social, religious, and logical reality in which they live. Through Tantric practice an individual perceives reality as maya, illusion, and the individual achieves liberation from it.Title: Mesocosm: Hinduism and the Organization of a Traditional Newar City in Nepal. Author: Robert I. Levy. Published: University of California Press, 1991. pp 313 ] This particular path to salvation among the several offered by Hinduism, links Tantrism to those practices of Indian religions, such as yoga, meditation, and social renunciation, which are based on temporary or permanent withdrawal from social relationships and modes.

During tantric practices and studies, the student is instructed further in meditation technique, particularly chakra meditation. This is often in a limited form in comparison with the way this kind of meditation is known and used by Tantric practitioners and yogis elsewhere, but is more elaborate than the initiate's previous meditation. It is considered to be a kind of Kundalini Yoga for the purpose of moving the Goddess into the chakra located in the "heart," for meditation and worship. [Title: Mesocosm: Hinduism and the Organization of a Traditional Newar City in Nepal. Author: Robert I. Levy. Published: University of California Press, 1991. pp 317 ]

Goal of Yoga

The goal of yoga may range from anywhere between improved health and reaching "Moksha". [Jacobsen, p. 10.] Within the monist schools of Advaita Vedanta and Shaivism the goal of yoga takes the form of Moksha, which is liberation from all worldly suffering and the cycle of birth and death (Samsara), at which point there is a realisation of identity with the Supreme Brahman. In the Mahabharata, the goal of yoga is variously described as entering the world of Brahma, as Brahman, or as perceiving the Brahman or Atman that pervades all things. [Jacobsen, p. 9.] For the bhakti schools of Vaishnavism, "bhakti" or service to "Svayam bhagavan" itself is the ultimate goal of the yoga process, wherein perfection culminates in an eternal relationship with Vishnu, Rama or Krsna. [ [ Brittanica Concise] "Characterized by an emphasis on bhakti, its goal is to escape from the cycle of birth and death in order to enjoy the presence of Vishnu."]



*cite book |last=Apte |first=Vaman Shivram |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=The Practical Sanskrit Dictionary |year=1965 |publisher=Motilal Banarsidass Publishers |location=Delhi |isbn=81-208-0567-4 (fourth revised & enlarged edition).

*Chang, G.C.C. (1993). Tibetan Yoga. New Jersey: Carol Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8065-1453-1

*cite book |series= |last=Chatterjee |first=Satischandra |authorlink= |coauthors=Datta, Dhirendramohan |title=An Introduction to Indian Philosophy |year=1984 |publisher=University of Calcutta |location=Calcutta |edition=Eighth Reprint Edition
** Donatelle, Rebecca J. Health: The Basics. 6th ed. San Francisco: Pearson Education, Inc. 2005.
* Feuerstein, Georg. The Shambhala Guide to Yoga. 1st ed. Boston & London: Shambhala Publications 1996.
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*cite book | last = Harinanda | first = Swami | coauthors= | year = | title = Yoga and The Portal | publisher = Jai Dee Marketing| location = | isbn=0978142950
*cite book | last = Jacobsen | first = Knut A. (Editor) | coauthors= Larson, Gerald James (Editor)| year = 2005 | title = Theory And Practice of Yoga: Essays in Honour of Gerald James Larson | publisher = Brill Academic Publishers| location = | isbn=9004147578 (Studies in the History of Religions, 110)
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* Mittra, Dharma Sri. Asanas: 608 Yoga Poses. 1st ed. California: New World Library 2003.
*cite book | last = Müeller | first = Max | authorlink= Max Müller |year = 1899 | title = Six Systems of Indian Philosophy; Samkhya and Yoga, Naya and Vaiseshika| publisher = Susil Gupta (India) Ltd.| location = Calcutta | isbn=0-7661-4296-5 Reprint edition; Originally published under the title of "The Six Systems of Indian Philosophy".
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* Saraswati, swami satyananda. November 2002 (12th edition). "Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha" ISBN 81-86336-14-1
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* Usharabudh, Arya Pandit. Philosophy of Hatha Yoga. 2nd ed. Pennsylvania: Himalayan Institute Press 1977, 1985.
*cite book |series= |last=Vivekananda |first=Swami |authorlink=Swami Vivekananda |coauthors=|title=Raja Yoga |year=1994 |publisher=Advaita Ashrama Publication Department |location=Calcutta |isbn=81-85301-16-6 21st reprint edition.
*cite book |series= |last=Zimmer |first=Heinrich |authorlink=Heinrich Zimmer |coauthors=|title=Philosophies of India |year=1951 |publisher=Princeton University Press |location=New York, New York |isbn=0-691-01758-1 Bollingen Series XXVI; Edited by Joseph Cambell.

See also

* Kinesiotherapy

External links

*dmoz|Society/Religion_and_Spirituality/Yoga/|Yoga links

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