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1. A Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple
meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practised for health
and relaxation.
"yoga classes"

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the umbrella term yoga which includes both religion, philosophy, and practices.
For one of the six Hindu philosophy schools, see Rja yoga. For the popular yoga that explains and
emphasizes the physical practices or disciplines, see Hatha Yoga.
For other uses, see Yoga (disambiguation).
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Yoga (/jo/; Sanskrit:

, Sanskrit pronunciation (helpinfo)) are the physical, mental,
and spiritual practices or disciplines that aim to transform body and mind. The term denotes a variety
of schools, practices and goals[1] inHinduism, Buddhism (including Vajrayana and Tibetan
Buddhism[2][3][4]) and Jainism,[5][6][7][6] the best-known beingHatha yoga and Raja yoga. The term yoga
is derived from the literal meaning of "yoking together" a span of horses or oxes,[1] but came to be
applied to the "yoking" of mind and body.[1]
The origins of Yoga may date back to pre-vedic Indian traditions. The earliest accounts of yogapractices are to be found in the Buddhist Nikayas.[8] Parallel developments were recorded around
400 CE in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,[9]which combines prephilosophical speculations and diverse
ascetic practices of the first millennium BCE with Samkhya-philosophy. Hatha yoga emerged
from tantra by the turn of the first millennium.[10][11]
Gurus from India later introduced yoga to the west,[12] following the success of
Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th and early 20th century.[12] In the 1980s, yoga became popular
as a system of physical exercise across the Western world. This form of yoga is often called Hatha

Yoga physiology described humans as existing of three bodies and five sheets which cover the
atmman, and energy flowing through energy channels and concentrated in chakras.
Many studies have tried to determine the effectiveness of yoga as a complementary intervention for
cancer, schizophrenia, asthma, and heart disease.[13][14][15][16]

1 Terminology
2 Goal of Yoga
3 Schools of Yoga


3.1 Jainism
3.2 Buddhism
3.3 Hinduism

3.3.1 Raja Yoga

3.3.2 Tantra
3.3.3 Hatha yoga
3.3.4 Shaivism

3.4 Modern wellness

4 History

4.1 Origins (before 500 BCE)

4.1.1 Vedic period

4.2.1 Early Buddhist texts

4.2.2 Upanishads
4.2.3 Bhagavad Gita
4.2.4 Mahabharata

4.3 Classical era (200 BCE 500 CE)

4.3.1 Raja yoga

4.3.3 Jainism
4.3.4 Yogacara school
4.4.1 Bhakti movement
4.4.2 Tantra
4.4.3 Vajrayana
4.4.4 Hatha Yoga
4.4.5 Sikhism
4.5.1 Reception in the West
4.5.2 Medicine Potential benefits for adults Physical injuries Pediatrics

5 Yoga physiology
6 Yoga compared with other systems of meditation

o Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

4.3.2 Yoga Yajnavalkya

4.5 Modern history Samkhya

4.4 Middle Ages (5001500 CE) Ascetic practices

4.2 Preclassical era (500-200 BCE) Textual references

6.1 Zen Buddhism

6.2 Tibetan Buddhism
6.3 Christian meditation
6.4 Islam

7 See also

8 Notes
9 References
10 Sources
11 External links


Statue of Shiva in Bangalore, India, performing yogic meditation in thePadmasana posture.

In Vedic Sanskrit, the more commonly used, literal meaning of the Sanskrit word yoga which is "to
add", "to join", "to unite", or "to attach" from the root yuj, already had a much more figurative sense,
where the yoking or harnessing of oxen or horses takes on broader meanings such as "employment,
use, application, performance" (compare the figurative uses of "toharness" as in "to put something to
some use"). All further developments of the sense of this word are post-Vedic. More prosaic moods
such as "exertion", "endeavour", "zeal", and "diligence" are also found in Epic Sanskrit.[citation needed]
There are very many compound words containing yog in Sanskrit. Yoga can take on meanings such
as "connection", "contact", "method", "application", "addition", and "performance". In simpler words,
Yoga also means "combined". For example, gu-yoga means "contact with a cord"; chakryoga has a medical sense of "applying a splint or similar instrument by means of pulleys (in case of
dislocation of the thigh)"; chandr-yoga has the astronomical sense of "conjunction of the moon with
a constellation"; pu-yoga is a grammatical term expressing "connection or relation with a man", etc.
Thus, bhakti-yoga means "devoted attachment" in the monotheistic Bhakti movement. The
term kriy-yoga has a grammatical sense, meaning "connection with a verb". But the same
compound is also given a technical meaning in the Yoga Sutras (2.1), designating the "practical"
aspects of the philosophy, i.e. the "union with the Supreme" due to performance of duties in
everyday life[17]
According to Pini, a 6th-century BCE Sanskrit grammarian, the term yoga can be derived from
either of two roots, yujir yoga (to yoke) or yuj samdhau (to concentrate).[18] In the context of
the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the root yuj samdhau (to concentrate) is considered by traditional
commentators as the correct etymology.[19] In accordance with Pini, Vyasa (c. 4th or 5th century
CE), who wrote the first commentary on the Yoga Sutras,[20] states that yoga
means samdhi(concentration).[21] In other texts and contexts, such as the Bhagavad Gt and
the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the word yoga has been used in conformity with yujir yoge(to yoke).[22]
According to Dasgupta, the term yoga can be derived from either of two roots, yujir yoga (to yoke)
or yuj samdhau (to concentrate).[18] Someone who practices yoga or follows the yoga philosophy
with a high level of commitment is called a yogi (may be applied to a male or a female)
or yogini (traditionally denoting a female).[23]

Goal of Yoga[edit]
The ultimate goal of Yoga is moksha (liberation) though the exact definition of what form this takes
depends on the philosophical or theological system with which it is conjugated.
According to Jacobsen, "Yoga has five principal meanings:[24]

yoga as a disciplined method for attaining a goal;

yoga as techniques of controlling the body and the mind;
yoga as a name of one of the schools or systems of philosophy (darana);
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."[24]
According to David Gordon White, from the 5th century CE onward, the meanings of the term "yoga"
became more or less fixed, but having various meanings:[25]

Yoga as an analysis of perception and cognition;[25]

Yoga as the rising and expansion of consciousness;[26]
Yoga as a path to omniscience;[27]
Yoga as a technique for entering into other bodies, generating multile bodies, and the
attainment of other supernatural accomplishments;[28]

Schools of Yoga[edit]
The term "yoga" has been applied to a variety of practices, the best-known Hindu practices being
Raj Yoga and Hatha Yoga, but also including Jain and Buddhist practices.

Main article: Jain meditation
Jain meditation has been the central practice of spirituality in Jainism along with the Three
Jewels.[29] Meditation in Jainism aims at realizing the self, attain salvation, take the soul to complete
freedom.[30] It aims to reach and to remain in the pure state of soul which is believed to be pure
conscious, beyond any attachment or aversion. The practitioner strives to be just a knower-seer
(Gyata-Drashta). Jain meditation can be broadly categorized to the auspicious Dharmya
Dhyana andShukla Dhyana and inauspicious Artta and Raudra Dhyana.

Mahavira, 24th Tirthankara

Main articles: Buddhist meditation, Dhyna in Buddhism, Yogacara and Vajrayana
Buddhist meditation encompasses a variety of meditation techniques that aim to
develop mindfulness, concentration,supramundane powers, tranquility, and insight.
Core techniques have been preserved in ancient Buddhist texts and have proliferated and diversified
through teacher-student transmissions. Buddhists pursue meditation as part of the path
toward Enlightenment and Nirvana.[note 1] The closest words for meditation in the classical languages
of Buddhism are bhvan[note 2] and jhna/dhyna.[note 3] Buddhist meditation techniques have
become increasingly popular in the wider world, with many non-Buddhists taking them up for a
variety of reasons.

Raja Yoga[edit]
Main articles: Rja yoga and Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are often labelled as Rja yoga.[31] It defines yoga as citta-vttinirodha (the cessation of the perturbations of the mind).[24] The aim is to still the mind in order to
reach Kaivalya, the "isolation" of purusha (the motionless consciousness "essence") from prakriti
(the primordial matter from which everything is made, including mind and emotions).[32][33] In
Hinduism, Raja yoga is considered as one of the six stika schools (those which accept the authority
of the Vedas)[34] of Hindu philosophy.[35]. Meditation is one of the keys for Raja Yoga

Main articles: Tantra, Yogi and Siddhi

Tantra is the name given by scholars to a style of meditation and ritual which arose in India no later
than the 5th century CE.[36] The earliest documented use of the word "Tantra" is in
the Rigveda (X.71.9).[37] Tantra has influenced the Hindu, Bon, Buddhist, and Jain traditions and Silk
Road transmission of Buddhism that spread Buddhism to East and Southeast Asia.[38]

Hatha yoga[edit]

Main article: Hatha yoga

Hatha yoga, also called hatha vidy (
), is a kind of yoga focusing on physical and mental
strength building exercises and postures described primarily in three texts of Hinduism:[39][40][41]
1. Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Svtmrma (15th century)
2. Shiva Samhita, author unknown (1500 C.E [42] or late 17th century)
3. Gheranda Samhita by Gheranda (late 17th century)
Many scholars also include the preceding Goraksha Samhita authored by Gorakshanath of the 11th
century in the above list.[39] Gorakshanath is widely considered to have been responsible for
popularizing hatha yoga as we know it today.[43][44][45]
Vajrayana Buddhism, founded by the Indian Mahasiddhas,[46] has a series of asanas and
pranayamas, such as tummo (Sanskrit cal)[4] and trul khor which parallel hatha yoga.

Main articles: Shaivism, Shaiva Siddhanta and Nath

In Shaivism, yoga is used to unite kundalini with Shiva.[47] Mahabharata defines the purpose of yoga
as the experience of uniting the individual tman with the universal Brahman that pervades all

Modern wellness[edit]
Apart from the spiritual goals, the physical postures of yoga are used to alleviate health problems,
reduce stress and make the spine supple in contemporary times. Yoga is also used as a complete
exercise program and physical therapy routine.[49]

The origins of yoga are a matter of debate. It may have pre-Vedic origins.[50] Several
seals discovered at Indus Valley Civilization sites depict figures in positions resembling a common
yoga or meditation pose.[51] Ascetic practices, concentration and bodily postures used
by Vedas priests to conduct Vedic ritual of fire sacrifice may have been precursors to yoga.
Pre-philosophical speculations of yoga begin to emerge in the texts of c. 500200 BCE. Between
200 BCE500 CE philosophical schools of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism were taking form and a
coherent philosophical system of yoga began to emerge.[52] The Middle Ages saw the development
of many satellite traditions of yoga. Yoga came to the attention of an educated western public in the
mid 19th century along with other topics of Indian philosophy.

Origins (before 500 BCE)[edit]

The origins of yoga are a matter of debate.[53] According to Crangle, Indian researchers have
generally favoured a linear theory, which attempts "to interpret the origin and early development of
Indian contemplative practices as a sequential growth from an Aryan genesis",[54][note 4] just like
traditional Hinduism regards the Vedas to be the source of all spiritual knowledge.[55][note 5] Other
scholars acknowledge the possibility of non-Aryan components.[54] Some argue that yoga originates
in the Indus Valley Civilization.[58] According to Zimmer, Yoga is part of the pre-Vedic heritage, which
also includes Jainism, Samkhya and Buddhism.[59][note 6][note 7] Samuel argues that yoga derives from
the ramana tradition.[63][note 8] Gavin Flood notes that such "dichotomization is too simplistic":[64]
[T]his dichotomization is too simplistic, for continuities can undoubtedly be found between
renunciation and vedic Brahmanism, while elements from non-Brahmanical, Sramana traditions also
played an important part in the formation of the renunciate ideal.[64][note 9]

Vedic period[edit]
Textual references[edit]

According to White, the first use of the word "yoga" is in the Rig Veda, where it denotes a yoke, but
also a war chariot.[66] Yoga is discussed quite frequently in theUpanishads, many of which predate
Patanjali's Sutras.[67] The actual term "yoga" first occurs in the Katha Upanishad[68] and later in the
Shvetasvatara Upanishad.[69] White states:
The earliest extant systematic account of yoga and a bridge from the earlier Vedic uses of the term
is found in the Hindu Kathaka Upanisad(Ku), a scripture dating from about the third century BCE[...]
[I]t describes the hierarchy of mind-body constituentsthe senses, mind, intellect, etc.that
comprise the foundational categories of Smkhya philosophy, whose metaphysical system grounds
the yoga of the YS, Bhg, and other texts and schools (Ku3.1011; 6.78).[70]
According to David Frawley[unreliable source?], verses such as Rig Veda 5.81.1 which reads,
Seers of the vast illumined seer yogically [yunjante] control their minds and their intelligence[71]
show that "at least the seed of the entire Yoga teaching is contained in this most ancient Aryan
An early reference to meditation is made in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the earliest Upanishad (c.
900 BCE).[note 10] In the Mahabharata yoga comes to mean "a divine chariot, that carried him upward
in a burst of light to and through the sun, and on to the heaven of gods and heroes."[70]
Ascetic practices[edit]

Ascetic practices (tapas), concentration and bodily postures used by Vedic priests to
conduct yajna (Vedic ritual of fire sacrifice), might have been precursors to yoga.[note 11] Vratya, a
group of ascetics mentioned in the Atharvaveda, emphasized on bodily postures which probably
evolved into yogic asanas.[74] Early VedicSamhitas also contain references to other group ascetics
such as, Munis, the Kein, and Vratyas.[76] Techniques for controlling breath and vital energies are
mentioned in the Brahmanas (ritualistic texts of the Vedic corpus, c. 1000800 BCE) and
the Atharvaveda.[74][77] Nasadiya Sukta of the Rig Veda suggests the presence of an early
contemplative tradition.[note 12]
The Vedic Samhitas contain references to ascetics, and ascetic practices known as (tapas) are
referenced in the Brhmaas (900 BCE and 500 BCE), early commentaries on the
Vedas.[80] The Rigveda, the earliest of the Hindu texts mentions the practice.[81] 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.[82][unreliable source?]
According to Feuerstein, breath control and curbing the mind was practiced since the Vedic
times.,[83] and yoga was fundamental to Vedic ritual, especially to chanting the sacred hymns[84]

Preclassical era (500-200 BCE)[edit]

Diffused pre-philosophical speculations of yoga begin to emerge in the texts of c. 500200 BCE
such as the Buddhist Nikayas, the middle Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and Mokshadharma of
the Mahabharata. The terms samkhya and yoga in these texts refer to spiritual methodologies rather
than the philosophical systems which developed centuries later.[85]
Early Buddhist texts[edit]

Werner notes that "only with Buddhism itself as expounded in the Pali Canon" do we have the oldest
preserved comprehensive yoga practice:

"But it is only with Buddhism itself as expounded in the Pali Canon that we can speak about a
systematic and comprehensive or even integral school of Yoga practice, which is thus the first and
oldest to have been preserved for us in its entirety"[8]
Another yoga system that predated the Buddhist school is Jain yoga. But since Jain sources
postdate Buddhist ones, it is difficult to distinguish between the nature of the early Jain school and
elements derived from other schools.[8]
Most of the other contemporary yoga systems alluded in the Upanishads and some Pali canons are
lost to time.[86][87][note 13]
The early Buddhist texts describe meditative practices and states, some of which the Buddha
borrowed from the ramana tradition.[89][90] One key innovative teaching of the Buddha was
that meditative absorption must be combined with liberating cognition.[91] Meditative states alone are
not an end, for according to the Buddha, even the highest meditative state is not liberating. Instead
of attaining a complete cessation of thought, some sort of mental activity must take place: a
liberating cognition, based on the practice of mindful awareness.[92] The Buddha also departed from
earlier yogic thought in discarding the early Brahminic notion of liberation at death.[93] While the
Upanishads thought liberation to be a realization at death of a nondual meditative state where the
ontological duality between subject and object was abolished, Buddha's theory of liberation
depended upon this duality because liberation to him was an insight into the subject's experience.[93]
The Pali canon contains three passages in which the Buddha describes pressing the tongue against
the palate for the purposes of controlling hunger or the mind, depending on the passage.[94] However
there is no mention of the tongue being inserted into the nasopharynx as in true khecar mudr. The
Buddha used a posture where pressure is put on the perineum with the heel, similar to even modern
postures used to stimulate Kundalini.[95]

Alexander Wynne, author of The Origin of Buddhist Meditation, observes that formless meditation
and elemental meditation might have originated in the Upanishadic tradition.[96] The earliest
reference to meditation is in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, one of the oldest
Upanishads.[76] Chandogya Upanishad describes the five kinds of vital energies (prana). Concepts
used later in many yoga traditions such as internal sound and veins (nadis) are also described in the
Upanishad.[74]Taittiriya Upanishad defines yoga as the mastery of body and senses.[97]
The term "yoga" first appears in the Hindu scripture Katha Upanishad (a primary Upanishad c. 400
BCE) where it is defined as the steady control of the senses, which along with cessation of mental
activity, leads to the supreme state.[76][note 14] Katha Upanishad integrates the monism of early
Upanishads with concepts of samkhya and yoga. It defines various levels of existence according to
their proximity to the innermost being tman. Yoga is therefore seen as a process of interiorization
or ascent of consciousness.[99][100] It is the earliest literary work that highlights the fundamentals of
yoga. Shvetashvatara Upanishad (c. 400-200 BCE) elaborates on the relationship between thought
and breath, control of mind, and the benefits of yoga.[100] Like the Katha Upanishad the transcendent
Self is seen as the goal of yoga. This text also recommends meditation on Om as a path to
liberation.[101] Maitrayaniya Upanishad (c. 300 BCE) formalizes the sixfold form of
yoga.[100] Physiological theories of later yoga make an appearance in this text.[102][103]
While breath channels (nis) of yogic practices had already been discussed in the classical
Upanishads, it was not until the eighth-century Buddhist Hevajra Tantra and Carygiti, that
hierarchies of chakras were introduced.[104][105] Further systematization of yoga is continued in the
Yoga Upanishads of the Atharvaveda (viz.,ilya, Pupata, Mahvkya)[clarification needed].[106]
Bhagavad Gita[edit]

Krishna narrating the Gita to Arjuna.

Main article: 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,[107] it
introduces three prominent types of yoga:[note 15]

Karma yoga: The yoga of action.[note 16]

Bhakti yoga: The yoga of devotion.[note 17]
Jnana yoga: The yoga of knowledge.[note 18]

In Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna explains to Arjuna about the essence of yoga as
practiced in daily lives:

(yoga-stha kuru karmani sanyugam tyaktv dhananjay

siddhy-asiddhyo samo bhutv samatvam yoga ucyate)
- Bhagavad Gita 2.48

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada translates it as "Be steadfast in yoga (yoga-stha), O

Arjuna. Perform your duty (kuru karmani) and abandon all attachment (sangam) to success or failure
(siddhy-asiddhyo). Such evenness of mind (samatvam) is called yoga."[112]
Madhusdana Sarasvat (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).[113] Other commentators ascribe a different 'yoga' to each chapter, delineating eighteen
different yogas.[114] Aurobindo, a freedom fighter and philosopher, describes the yoga of the Gita as
"a large, flexible and many-sided system with various elements, which are all successfully
harmonized by a sort of natural and living assimilation".[115]

Description of an early form of yoga called nirodhayoga (yoga of cessation) is contained in the
Mokshadharma section of the 12th chapter (Shanti Parva) of theMahabharata epic. The verses of
the section are dated to c. 300200 BCE. Nirodhayoga emphasizes progressive withdrawal from
the contents of empirical consciousness such as thoughts, sensations etc. until purusha (Self) is
realized. Terms like vichara (subtle reflection), viveka (discrimination) and others which are similar to
Patanjali's terminology are mentioned, but not described.[116] There is no uniform goal of yoga
mentioned in the Mahabharata. Separation of self from matter, perceiving Brahman everywhere,
entering into Brahman etc. are all described as goals of yoga. Samkhya and yoga are conflated
together and some verses describe them as being identical.[48] Mokshadharma also describes an
early practice of elemental meditation.[117]

Classical era (200 BCE 500 CE)[edit]

Raja yoga[edit]

Main article: Rja yoga

During the period between the Mauryan and the Gupta era (c. 200 BCE500 CE) philosophical
schools of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism were taking form and a coherent philosophical system
of yoga began to emerge.[52]

Further information: Samkhya

Samkhya emerged in the first century CE.[118] When Patanjali systematized the conceptions of yoga,
he set them forth on the background of the metaphysics of samkhya, which he assumed with slight
variations. In the early works, the yoga principles appear together with the samkhya ideas. Vyasa's
commentary on the Yoga Sutras, also called the Samkhyapravacanabhasya (Commentary on the
Exposition of the Sankhya Philosophy), brings out the intimate relation between the two
systems.[119] Yoga agrees with the essential metaphysics of samkhya, but differs from it in that while
samkhya holds that knowledge is the means of liberation, yoga is a system of active striving, mental
discipline, and dutiful action. Yoga also introduces the conception of god. Sometimes Patanjali's
system is referred to asSeshvara Samkhya in contradistinction to Kapila's Nirivara Samkhya.[120]
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali[edit]

Main articles: Raja Yoga and Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Traditional Hindu depiction of Patanjali as an avatar of the divine serpent Shesha.

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali[121]

Pada (Chapter) English meaning

Samadhi Pada

On being absorbed in spirit



Sadhana Pada

On being immersed in spirit


Vibhuti Pada

On supernatural abilities and gifts


Kaivalya Pada

On absolute freedom


In Hindu philosophy, yoga is the name of one of the six orthodox (which accept the testimony of
Vedas) philosophical schools.[122][123] The yoga school was founded by Patanjali. Karel Werner,
author of Yoga And Indian Philosophy, believes that the process of systematization of yoga which
began in the middle and Yoga Upanishads culminated with the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[note
Scholars also note the influence of Buddhist and Samkhyan ideas on the Yoga
Sutras.[124][125]Patanjali's Yoga Sutras reminds us of Buddhist formulations from the Pli
Canon, Sarvstivda Abhidharma andSautrntika.[126] The yoga school 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.[127][128] The parallels between yoga
and samkhya were so close that Max Mller says that "the two philosophies were in popular
parlance distinguished from each other as Samkhya with and Samkhya without a Lord...."[129] 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. Skhya 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 ("moka"), 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").
Patanjali is widely regarded as the compiler of the formal yoga philosophy.[131] The verses of Yoga
Sutras are terse and are therefore read together with the Vyasa Bhashya (c. 350450 CE), a
commentary on the Yoga Sutras.[132] Patanjali's yoga is known as Raja yoga, which is a system for
control of the mind.[133] Patanjali defines the word "yoga" in his second sutra, which is the definitional
sutra for his entire work:
(yoga citta-vtti-nirodha)
- 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 (nirodha) of the modifications (vtti) of the mind (citta)".[134] The use of the
word nirodha in the opening definition of yoga is an example of the important role that Buddhist
technical terminology and concepts play in the Yoga Sutras; this role suggests that Patanjali was
aware of Buddhist ideas and wove them into his system.[135] Swami Vivekananda translates the sutra
as "Yoga is restraining the mind-stuff (Citta) from taking various forms (Vrittis)."[136]

A sculpture of a Hindu yogiin the Birla Mandir, Delhi

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"): Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (Truth, non-lying), Asteya (nonstealing), Brahmacharya (non-sensuality, celibacy), and Aparigraha (non-possessiveness).
2. Niyama (The five "observances"): Shaucha (purity), Santosha (contentment), Tapas
(austerity), Svadhyaya (study of the Vedic scriptures to know about God and the soul), and
Ishvara-Pranidhana (surrender to God).
3. Asana: Literally means "seat", and in Patanjali's Sutras refers to the seated position used for
4. Pranayama ("Suspending Breath"): Prna, breath, "yma", to restrain or stop. Also
interpreted as control of the life force.
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.
In the view of this school, the highest attainment does not reveal the experienced diversity of the
world to be illusion. The everyday world is real. Furthermore, the highest attainment is the event of
one of many individual selves discovering itself; there is no single universal self shared by all
Yoga Yajnavalkya[edit]

Main article: Yoga Yajnavalkya

sayogo yoga ityukto jvtma-paramtmano
Union of the self (jivtma) with the Divine (paramtma) is said to be yoga.
Yoga Yajnavalkya[138]

The Yoga Yajnavalkya is a classical treatise on yoga attributed to the Vedic sage Yajnavalkya. It
takes the form of a dialogue between Yajnavalkya and his wife Gargi, a renowned female
philosopher.[139] The text contains 12 chapters and its origin has been traced to the period between
the second century BCE and fourth century CE.[140] Many yoga texts like the Hatha Yoga Pradipika,
the Yoga Kundalini and the Yoga Tattva Upanishads have borrowed verses from or make frequent
references to the Yoga Yajnavalkya.[141] In theYoga Yajnavalkya, yoga is defined

as jivatmaparamatmasamyogah, or the union between the individual self (jivatma) and the Divine

Main article: Jainism

Tirthankara Parsva in Yogic meditation in theKayotsarga posture.

According to Tattvarthasutra, 2nd century CE Jain text, yoga is the sum of all the activities of mind,
speech and body.[7] Umasvaticalls yoga the cause of "asrava" or karmic influx[142] as well as one of
the essentialssamyak caritrain the path to liberation.[142]In his Niyamasara, Acarya Kundakunda,
describes yoga bhaktidevotion to the path to liberationas the highest form of
devotion.[143] Acarya Haribhadra and Acarya Hemacandra mention the five major vows of ascetics
and 12 minor vows of laity under yoga. This has led certain Indologists like Prof. Robert J.
Zydenbos to call Jainism, essentially, a system of yogic thinking that grew into a full-fledged
religion.[144] The five yamas or the constraints of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali bear a resemblance to
the five major vows of Jainism, indicating a history of strong cross-fertilization between these
traditions.[145][note 20]
Mainstream Hinduism's influence on Jain yoga is noticed as Haribhadra founded his eightfold yoga
and aligned it with Patanjali's eightfold yoga.[147]
Yogacara school[edit]

Main article: Yogacara

In the late phase of Indian antiquity, on the eve of the development of Classical Hinduism,
the Yogacara movement arises during theGupta period (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.[148] The yogacara sect teaches "yoga" as a way to reach enlightenment.[149]

Middle Ages (5001500 CE)[edit]

Middle Ages saw the development of many satellite traditions of yoga. Hatha yoga emerged as a
dominant practice of yoga in this period.[150]
Bhakti movement[edit]

Main article: Bhakti Yoga

The Bhakti movement was a development in medieval Hinduism which advocated the concept of
a personal God (or "Supreme Personality of Godhead"). The movement was initiated by
the Alvars of South India in the 6th to 9th centuries, and it started gaining influence throughout India
by the 12th to 15th centuries.[151] Shaiva and Vaishnava bhakti traditions integrated aspects of Yoga
Sutras, such as the practical meditative exercises, with devotion.[152]Bhagavata Purana elucidates
the practice of a form of yoga called viraha (separation) bhakti. Viraha bhakti emphasizes one
pointed concentration on Krishna.[153]

By the turn of the first millennium, hatha yoga emerged from tantra.[10][11]
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 Tantricpractice, an individual perceives
reality as maya, illusion, and the individual achieves liberation from it.[154] Both Tantra and yoga offer
paths that relieve a person from depending on the world. Where yoga relies on progressive
restriction of inputs from outside; Tantra relies on transmutation of all external inputs so that one is
no longer dependent on them, but can take them or leave them at will. They both make a person
independent.[155] 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.[154]
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.[156]

Main article: Vajrayana

While breath channels (nis) of yogic practices had already been discussed in the
classical Upanishads, it was not until the eighth-century Buddhist Hevajra Tantraand Carygiti, that
hierarchies of chakras were introduced.[104][105]
Hatha Yoga[edit]

Main articles: Hatha yoga and Hatha Yoga Pradipika

The earliest references to hatha yoga are in Buddhist works dating from the eighth century.[157] The
earliest definition of hatha yoga is found in the 11th century Buddhist text Vimalaprabha, which
defines it in relation to the center channel, bindu etc.[158] The basic tenets of Hatha yoga were
formulated by Shaiva asceticsMatsyendranath and Gorakshanath c. 900 CE. Hatha yoga
synthesizes elements of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras with posture and breathing exercises.[159] Hatha
yoga, sometimes referred to as the "psychophysical yoga",[160] was further elaborated by Yogi
Swatmarama, compiler of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika in 15th century CE. This 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).[161][162] Compared to the seated asana, or sitting meditation posture, of Patanjali's Raja
yoga,[163] it marks the development of asanas (plural) into the full body 'postures' now in popular

usage[164] and, along with its many modern variations, is the style that many people associate with
the word yoga today.[165]
It is similar to a diving board preparing the body for purification, so that it may be ready to receive
higher techniques of meditation. The word "Hatha" comes from "Ha" which means Sun, and "Tha"
which means Moon.[166]

Various yogic groups had become prominent in Punjab in the 15th and 16th century,
when Sikhism was in its nascent stage. Compositions of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism,
describe many dialogues he had with Jogis, a Hindu community which practiced yoga.[167] Guru
Nanak rejected the austerities, rites and rituals connected with Hatha Yoga.[168] He propounded the
path of Sahaja yoga or Nama yoga (meditation on the name) instead.[169] The Guru Granth
Sahib states:
Listen "O Yogi, Nanak tells nothing but the truth. You must discipline your mind. The devotee must
meditate on the Word Divine. It is His grace which brings about the union. He understands, he also
sees. Good deeds help one merge into Divination."

Modern history[edit]
Reception in the West[edit]

An early illustration of Indians performing Yoga asana in 1688

Yoga came to the attention of an educated western public in the mid-19th century along with other
topics of Indian philosophy. In the context of this budding interest, N. C. Paul published his Treatise
on Yoga Philosophy in 1851.
The first Hindu teacher to actively advocate and disseminate aspects of yoga to a western
audience, Swami Vivekananda, toured Europe and the United States in the 1890s.[171] The reception
which Swami Vivekananda received built on the active interest of intellectuals, in particular the New
England Transcendentalists, among them R. W. Emerson (1803-1882), who drew on German
Romanticism and the interest of philosophers and scholars like G. F. W. Hegel (1770-1831), the
brothersAugust Wilhelm Schlegel (1767-1845) and Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel (17721829), Max Mueller (1823-1900), A. Schopenhauer (1788-1860) and others who had (to varying
degrees) interests in things Indian.[172]
Theosophists also had a large influence on the American public's view of Yoga.[173] Esoteric views
current at the end of the 19th century provided a further basis for the reception of Vedanta and of
Yoga with its theory and practice of correspondence between the spiritual and the physical.[174] The
reception of Yoga and of Vedanta thus entwined with each other and with the (mostly Neoplatonismbased) currents of religious and philosophical reform and transformation throughout the 19th and
early 20th centuries. M. Eliade, himself rooted in the Romanian currents of these traditions,[citation
brought a new element into the reception of Yoga with the strong emphasis on Tantric Yoga in
his seminal book: Yoga: Immortality and Freedom.[note 21] With the introduction of the Tantra traditions
and philosophy of Yoga, the conception of the "transcendent" to be attained by Yogic practice shifted

from experiencing the "transcendent" ("Atman-Brahman" in Advaitic theory) in the mind to the body
The modern scientific study of yoga began with the works of N. C. Paul and Major D. Basu in the late
19th century, and then continued in the 20th century with Sri Yogendra (1897-1989) and Swami
Kuvalayananda.[176] Western medical researchers came to Swami Kuvalayanandas Kaivalyadhama
Health and Yoga Research Center, starting in 1928, to study Yoga as a science.[177]
The West,[clarification needed] in the early 21st century typically associates the term "yoga" with Hatha
yoga and its asanas (postures) or as a form of exercise.[178]During the 1910s and 1920s in the USA,
yoga suffered a period of bad publicity due largely to the backlash against immigration, a rise in
puritanical values, and a number of scandals. In the 1930s and 1940s yoga began to gain more
public acceptance as a result of celebrity endorsement.[citation needed] In the 1950s the United States
saw another period of paranoia against yoga,[173] but by the 1960s, western interest in Hindu
spirituality reached its peak, giving rise to a great number ofNeo-Hindu schools specifically
advocated to a western public. During this period, most of the influential Indian teachers of yoga
came from two lineages, those ofSivananda Saraswati (18871963) and of Tirumalai
Krishnamacharya (18881989).[179] Teachers of Hatha yoga who were active in the west in this
period includedB.K.S. Iyengar (1918- ), K. Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009), Swami Vishnudevananda (1927-1993), and Swami Satchidananda (1914-2002).[180][181][182] Yogi
Bhajanbrought Kundalini Yoga to the United States in 1969.[183]
A second "yoga boom" followed in the 1980s, as Dean Ornish, a follower of Swami Satchidananda,
connected yoga to heart health, legitimizing yoga as a purely physical system of health exercises
outside of counter-culture or esotericism circles, and unconnected to any religious
denomination.[171] Numerous asanas seemed modern in origin, and strongly overlapped with 19th
and early-20th century Western exercise traditions.[184]

A group of people practicing yoga in 2012.

Since 2001, the popularity of yoga in the USA has risen constantly. The number of people who
practiced some form of yoga has grown from 4 million (in 2001) to 20 million (in 2011).

Yoga has become a universal language of spiritual exercise in the United States, crossing many lines of religion and cultures,... Every day,
millions of people practice yoga to improve their health and overall well-being. That's why we're encouraging everyone to take part in PALA
(Presidential Active Lifestyle Award), so show your support for yoga and answer the challenge.
President Obama


As of 2013 some schools in the United States oppose the practice of yoga inside educational
facilities, saying it promotesHinduism in violation of the Establishment Clause.[186]
The American College of Sports Medicine supports the integration of yoga into the exercise
regimens of healthy individuals as long as properly-trained professionals deliver instruction. The

College cites yoga's promotion of "profound mental, physical and spiritual awareness" and its
benefits as a form of stretching, and as an enhancer of breath control and of core strength.[187]

Main article: Yoga as exercise or alternative medicine

Potential benefits for adults[edit]

While much of the medical community views the results of yoga research to be significant, others
argue that there were many flaws that undermine results. Much of the research on yoga has been in
the form of preliminary studies or clinical trials of low methodological quality, including small sample
sizes, inadequate blinding, lack of randomization, and high risk of bias.[188][189][190] Long-term yoga
users in the United States have reported musculoskeletal and mental health improvements, as well
as reduced symptoms of asthma in asthmatics.[191] There is evidence to suggest that regular yoga
practice increases brain GABA levels and has been shown to improve mood and anxiety more than
some other metabolically matched exercises, such as walking.[192][193] The three main focuses of
Hatha yoga (exercise, breathing, and meditation) make it beneficial to those suffering from heart
disease. Overall, studies of the effects of yoga on heart disease suggest that yoga may reduce high
blood pressure, improve symptoms of heart failure, enhance cardiac rehabilitation, and lower
cardiovascular risk factors.[194] For chronic low back pain, specialist Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs
has been found 30% more beneficial than usual care alone in a UK clinical trial.[195] Other smaller
studies support this finding.[196][197] The Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs programme is the dominant
treatment for society (both cheaper and more effective than usual care alone) due to 8.5 fewer days
off work each year.[198] A research group from Boston University School of Medicine also tested
yogas effects on lower back pain. Over twelve weeks, one group of volunteers practiced yoga while
the control group continued with standard treatment for back pain. The reported pain for yoga
participants decreased by one third, while the standard treatment group had only a five percent drop.
Yoga participants also had a drop of 80% in pain medication use.[199]
There has been an emergence of studies investigating yoga as a complementary intervention for
cancer patients. Yoga is used for treatment of cancer patients to decrease depression, insomnia,
pain, and fatigue and increase anxiety control.[200] Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
(MBSR) programs include yoga as a mind-body technique to reduce stress. A study found that after
seven weeks the group treated with yoga reported significantly less mood disturbance and reduced
stress compared to the control group. Another study found that MBSR had showed positive effects
on sleep anxiety, quality of life, and spiritual growth in cancer patients.[201]
Yoga has also been studied as a treatment for schizophrenia.[202] Some encouraging, but
inconclusive, evidence suggests that yoga as a complementary treatment may help alleviate
symptoms of schizophrenia and improve health-related quality of life.[14]
Implementation of the Kundalini Yoga Lifestyle has shown to help substance abuse addicts increase
their quality of life according to psychological questionnaires like the Behavior and Symptom
Identification Scale and the Quality of Recovery Index.[203]
Yoga has been shown in a study to have some cognitive functioning (executive functioning, including
inhibitory control) acute benefit.[204]
Physical injuries[edit]

See also: Sports injury

Since a small percentage of yoga practitioners each year suffer physical injuries analogous to sports
injuries;[205] caution and common sense are recommended.[206] Yoga has been criticized for being
potentially dangerous and being a cause for a range of serious medical conditions including thoracic
outlet syndrome, degenerative arthritis of the cervical spine, spinal stenosis, retinal tears, damage to
the common fibular nerve, so called "Yoga foot drop,"[207] etc. An expos of these problems
by William Broad published in January, 2012 in The New York Times Magazine[208] resulted in

controversy within the international yoga community. Broad, a science writer, yoga practitioner, and
author of The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards,[209] had suffered a back injury while
performing a yoga posture.[210] Torn muscles, knee injuries,[211] and headaches are common
ailments which may result from yoga practice.[212]
An extensive survey of yoga practitioners in Australia showed that about 20% had suffered some
physical injury while practicing yoga. In the previous 12 months 4.6% of the respondents had
suffered an injury producing prolonged pain or requiring medical treatment. Headstands, shoulder
stands, lotus and half lotus (seated cross-legged position), forward bends, backward bends, and
handstands produced the greatest number of injuries.[205]
Some yoga practitioners do not recommend certain yoga exercises for women during menstruation,
for pregnant women, or for nursing mothers. However, meditation, breathing exercises, and certain
postures which are safe and beneficial for women in these categories are encouraged.[213]
Among the main reasons that experts cite for causing negative effects from yoga are beginners'
competitiveness and instructors' lack of qualification. As the demand for yoga classes grows, many
people get certified to become yoga instructors, often with relatively little training. Not every newly
certified instructor can evaluate the condition of every new trainee in their class and recommend
refraining from doing certain poses or using appropriate props to avoid injuries. In turn, a beginning
yoga student can overestimate the abilities of their body and strive to do advanced poses before
their body is flexible or strong enough to perform them.[208][212]
Vertebral artery dissection, a tear in the arteries in the neck which provide blood to the brain can
result from rotation of the neck while the neck is extended. This can occur in a variety of contexts, for
example, in a beauty shop while your hair is being rinsed, but is an event which could occur in some
yoga practices. This is a very serious condition which can result in a stroke.[214][215]
Acetabular labral tears, damage to the structure joining the femur and the hip, have been reported to
have resulted from yoga practice.[216]

It is claimed that yoga can be an excellent training for children and adolescents, both as a form of
physical exercise and for breathing, focus, mindfulness, and stress relief: Many school districts have
considered incorporating yoga into their P.E. programs. The Encinitas, California school district
gained a San Diego Superior Court Judge's approval to use yoga in P.E., holding against the
parents who claimed the practice was intrinsically religious and hence should not be part of a state
funded program.[217]

Yoga physiology[edit]

Yogin with six chakras, India, Punjab Hills, Kangra, late 18th century

Main article: Yoga physiology

Over time, an extended yoga physiology developed, especially within the tantric tradition and hatha
yoga. It pictures humans as composed ofthree bodies or five sheats which cover the atman. The
three bodies are described within the Mandukya Upanishad, which adds a fourth state, turiya, while
the five sheaths (pancha-kosas) are described in the Taittiriya Upanishad.[218] They are often
1. Sthula sarira, the Gross body, comprising the Annamaya Kosha[219]
2. Suksma sarira, the Subtle body, composed of;
1. the Pranamaya Kosha (Vital breath or Energy),
2. Manomaya Kosha (Mind)
3. the Vijnanamaya Kosha (Intellect)[219]
3. Karana sarira, the Causal body, comprising the Anandamaya Kosha (Bliss)[219]
Within the subtle body energy flows through the nadis or channels, and is concentrated within
the chakras.

Yoga compared with other systems of meditation[edit]

Zen Buddhism[edit]
Zen, the name of which derives from the Sanskrit "dhyaana" via the Chinese "ch'an"[note 22] is a form
of Mahayana Buddhism. The Mahayana school of Buddhism is noted for its proximity with
yoga.[221] In the west, Zen is often set alongside yoga; the two schools of meditation display obvious
family resemblances.[222] This phenomenon merits special attention since yogic practices have some
of their roots manifested in the Zen Buddhist school.[note 23] Certain essential elements of yoga are
important both for Buddhism in general and for Zen in particular.[223]

Tibetan Buddhism[edit]
In the Nyingma tradition, the path of meditation practice is divided into nine yanas, or vehicles, which
are said to be increasingly profound.[224] The last six are described as "yoga yanas": "Kriya yoga",
"Upa yoga," "Yoga yana," "Mah yoga," "Anu yoga" and the ultimate practice, "Ati
yoga."[225] The Sarma traditions also include Kriya, Upa (called "Charya"), and Yoga, with
the Anuttara yoga class substituting for Mahayoga and Atiyoga.[226]
Other tantra yoga practices include a system of 108 bodily postures practiced with breath and heart
rhythm. The Nyingma tradition also practices Yantra yoga (Tib. "Trul khor"), a discipline that includes
breath work (or pranayama), meditative contemplation and precise dynamic movements to centre
the practitioner.[227] 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 caal (Tib. "tummo"), the generation of heat in one's own body, as being "the very foundation of
the whole of Tibetan yoga."[228] Chang also claims that Tibetan yoga involves reconciliation of
apparent polarities, such as prana and mind, relating this to theoretical implications of tantrism.

Christian meditation[edit]
Main articles: Christian meditation, A Christian reflection on the New Age and Aspects of Christian
Some Christians integrate yoga and other aspects of Eastern spirituality with prayer and meditation.
This has been attributed to a desire to experience God in a more complete way.[229] In 2013,
Monsignor Raffaello Martinelli, servicing Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, having worked

for over 23 years with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI),[230] said that for
his Meditation, a Christian can learn from other religious traditions (zen, yoga, controlled
respiration, Mantra): "As long as the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these
religions, we should not despise these indications since non-Christian. Instead, we can collect from
them what is useful, provided you never lose sight of the Christian conception of prayer, its logic and
requirements, since it is within this that all these fragments must be reformulated and
assumed.../....[231] Previously, the Roman Catholic Church, and some other Christian organizations
have expressed concerns and disapproval with respect to some eastern and New Age practices that
include yoga and meditation.[232][233][234]
In 1989 and 2003, the Vatican issued two documents: Aspects of Christian meditation and "A
Christian reflection on the New Age," that were mostly critical of eastern and New Age practices. The
2003 document was published as a 90 page handbook detailing the Vatican's position.[235] The
Vatican warned that concentration on the physical aspects of meditation "can degenerate into a cult
of the body" and that equating bodily states with mysticism "could also lead to psychic disturbance
and, at times, to moral deviations." Such has been compared to the early days of Christianity, when
the church opposed the gnostics' belief that salvation came not through faith but through a mystical
inner knowledge.[229] The letter also says, "one can see if and how [prayer] might be enriched by
meditation methods developed in other religions and cultures"[236] but maintains the idea that "there
must be some fit between the nature of [other approaches to] prayer and Christian beliefs about
ultimate reality."[229] Some fundamentalist Christian organizations consider yoga to be incompatible
with their religious background, considering it a part of theNew Age movement inconsistent with
Another view holds that Christian meditation can lead to religious pluralism. This is held by an
interdenominational association of Christians that practice it. "The ritual simultaneously operates as
an anchor that maintains, enhances, and promotes denominational activity and a sail that allows
institutional boundaries to be crossed."[238]

The development of Sufism was considerably influenced by Indian yogic practises, where they
adapted both physical postures (asanas) and breath control (pranayama).[239] The ancient Indian
yogic text Amritakunda ("Pool of Nectar)" was translated into Arabic and Persian as early as the 11th
century. Several other yogic texts were appropriated by Sufi tradition, but typically the texts
juxtapose yoga materials alongside Sufi practices without any real attempt at integration or
synthesis. Yoga became known to Indian Sufis gradually over time, but engagement with yoga is not
found at the historical beginnings of the tradition.[240]
Yoga is a growing industry in Islamic countries (Two Bikram Yoga studios in Iran). Also, yoga is used
in developing countries like Palestine to help the population manage stress. This article is a
comparative study of yoga and Islam, showing their similarities.[241][242][243]
Malaysia's top Islamic body in 2008 passed a fatwa, which is legally non-binding,
against Muslims practicing yoga, saying it had elements of "Hindu spiritual teachings" and that its
practice was blasphemy and is therefore haraam. Muslim yoga teachers in Malaysia criticized the
decision as "insulting."[244] Sisters in Islam, a women's rights group in Malaysia, also expressed
disappointment and said that its members would continue with their yoga classes.[245]
The fatwa states that yoga practiced only as physical exercise is permissible, but prohibits the
chanting of religious mantras,[246] and states that teachings such as the uniting of a human with God
is not consistent with Islamic philosophy.[247] In a similar vein, the Council of Ulemas, an Islamic body
in Indonesia, passed a fatwabanning yoga on the grounds that it contains "Hindu
elements"[248] These fatwas have, in turn, been criticized by Darul Uloom Deoband,
a Deobandi Islamic seminary in India.[249]

In May 2009, Turkey's head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs, Ali Bardakolu, discounted
personal development techniques such as yoga as commercial ventures that could lead to
extremism. His comments were made in the context of yoga possibly competing with and eroding
participation in Islamic practice.[250]
As of May 2014, according to Irans Yoga Association, Iran has approximately 200 yoga centres, a
quarter of them in the capital Tehran, where groups can often be seen practising in parks. This has
been met by opposition among conservatives.[251]

See also[edit]
Yoga portal

Hinduism portal
India portal

Yoga physiology
List of asanas
List of yoga schools
Yoga series




Jump up^ For instance, Kamalashila (2003), p. 4, states that Buddhist meditation "includes any method of meditation that
has Enlightenment as its ultimate aim." Likewise, Bodhi (1999) writes: "To arrive at the experiential realization of the truths it is necessary
to take up the practice of meditation.... At the climax of such contemplation the mental eye ... shifts its focus to the unconditioned
state,Nibbana...." A similar although in some ways slightly broader definition is provided by Fischer-Schreiber et al. (1991), p. 142:
"Meditation general term for a multitude of religious practices, often quite different in method, but all having the same goal: to bring the
consciousness of the practitioner to a state in which he can come to an experience of 'awakening,' 'liberation,' 'enlightenment.'"
Kamalashila (2003) further allows that some Buddhist meditations are "of a more preparatory nature" (p. 4).
Jump up^ The Pli and Sanskrit word bhvan literally means "development" as in "mental development." For the association of this term
with "meditation," see Epstein (1995), p. 105; and, Fischer-Schreiber et al. (1991), p. 20. As an example from a well-known discourse of
the Pali Canon, in "The Greater Exhortation to Rahula" (Maha-Rahulovada Sutta, MN 62), Ven. Sariputta tells Ven. Rahula (in Pali, based
on VRI, n.d.): npnassati, rhula, bhvana bhvehi.Thanissaro (2006) translates this as: "Rahula, develop the meditation [bhvana]
of mindfulness of in-&-out breathing." (Square-bracketed Pali word included based on Thanissaro, 2006, end note.)
Jump up^ See, for example, Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), entry for "jhna1";Thanissaro (1997); as well as, Kapleau (1989), p. 385, for
the derivation of the word "zen" from Sanskrit "dhyna." PTS Secretary Dr. Rupert Gethin, in describing the activities of wandering
ascetics contemporaneous with the Buddha, wrote:
"...[T]here is the cultivation of meditative and contemplative techniques aimed at producing what might, for the lack of a suitable technical
term in English, be referred to as 'altered states of consciousness'. In the technical vocabulary of Indian religious texts such states come to
be termed 'meditations' ([Skt.:]dhyna / [Pali:] jhna) or 'concentrations' (samdhi); the attainment of such states of consciousness was
generally regarded as bringing the practitioner to deeper knowledge and experience of the nature of the world." (Gethin, 1998, p. 10.)




Jump up^ See also Gavin Flood (1996), Hinduism, p.87-90, on "The orthogenetic theory" and "Non-Vedic origins of renunciation".[53]
Jump up^ Post-classical traditions consider Hiranyagarbha as the originator of yoga.[56][57]
Jump up^ Zimmer: "[Jainism] does not derive from Brahman-Aryan sources, but reflects the cosmology and anthropology of a much older
pre-Aryan upper class of northeastern India - being rooted in the same subsoil of archaic metaphysical speculation as Yoga, Sankhya, and
Buddhism, the other non-Vedic Indian systems."[60]
Jump up^ Zimmer's point of view is supported by other scholars, such as Niniam Smart, inDoctrine and argument in Indian Philosophy,
1964, p.27-32 & p.76,[61] and S.K. Belvakar & Inchegeri Sampradaya in History of Indian philosophy, 1974 (1927), p.81 & p.303409.[61] See Crangle 1994 page 5-7.[62]
Jump up^ Geofffrey Samuel: "Our best evidence to date suggests that [yogic practice] developed in the same ascetic circles as the early
sramana movements (Buddhists, Jainas and Ajivikas), probably in around the sixth and fifth centuries BCE."[63]
Jump up^ Gavin Flood: "These renouncer traditions offered a new vision of the human condition which became incorporated, to some
degree, into the worldview of the Brahman householder. The ideology of asceticism and renunciation seems, at first, discontinuous with
the brahmanical ideology of the affirmation of social obligations and the performance of public and domestic rituals. Indeed, there has been
some debate as to whether asceticism and its ideas of retributive action, reincarnation and spiritual liberation, might not have originated
outside the orthodox vedic sphere, or even outside Aryan culture: that a divergent historical origin might account for the apparent
contradiction within 'Hinduism' between the world affirmation of the householder and the world negation of the renouncer. However, this
dichotomization is too simplistic, for continuities can undoubtedly be found between renunciation and vedic Brahmanism, while elements
from non-Brahmanical, Sramana traditions also played an important part in the formation of the renunciate ideal. Indeed there are
continuities between vedic Brahmanism and Buddhism, and it has been argued that the Buddha sought to return to the ideals of a vedic
society which he saw as being eroded in his own day."[65]


Jump up^ Flood: "...which states that, having become calm and concentrated, one perceives the self (atman), within oneself."
Jump up^


Jacobsen writes that "Bodily postures are closely related to the tradition of tapas, ascetic practices in the Vedic tradition. The use by
Vedic priests of ascetic practices in their preparations for the performance of the sacrifice might be precursor to Yoga."


Whicher believes that "the proto-Yoga of the Vedic rishis is an early form of sacrificial mysticism and contains many elements
characteristic of later Yoga that include: concentration, meditative observation, ascetic forms of practice (tapas), breath control..."
Jump up^

Wynne states that "The Nasadiyasukta, one of the earliest and most important cosmogonic tracts in the early Brahminic literature,
contains evidence suggesting it was closely related to a tradition of early Brahminic contemplation. A close reading of this text
suggests that it was closely related to a tradition of early Brahminic contemplation. The poem may have been composed by
contemplatives, but even if not, an argument can be made that it marks the beginning of the contemplative/meditative trend in Indian
Miller suggests that the composition of Nasadiya Sukta and Purusha Suktaarises from "the subtlest meditative stage, called
absorption in mind and heart" which "involves enheightened experiences" through which seer "explores the mysterious psychic and
cosmic forces...".




Jacobsen writes that dhyana (meditation) is derived from Vedic term dhih which refers to "visionary insight", "thought provoking
Jump up^ On the dates of the Pali canon, Gregory Schopen writes, "We know, and have known for some time, that the Pali canon as we
have it and it is generally conceded to be our oldest source cannot be taken back further than the last quarter of the first century
BCE, the date of the Alu-vihara redaction, the earliest redaction we can have some knowledge of, and that for a critical history it can
serve, at the very most, only as a source for the Buddhism of this period. But we also know that even this is problematic... In fact, it is not
until the time of the commentaries of Buddhaghosa, Dhammapala, and others that is to say, the fifth to sixth centuries CE that we
can know anything definite about the actual contents of [the Pali] canon."[88]
Jump up^ For the date of this Upanishad see also Helmuth von Glasenapp, from the 1950 Proceedings of the "Akademie der
Wissenschaften und Literatur"[98]
Jump up^ Flood writes, "...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)." [108]
Jump up^ Karma yoga involves performance of action without attachment to results.[109]
Jump up^ The yoga of devotion is similar to the yoga of action, but the fruits of action, in yoga of devotion, are surrendered to Krishna.[110]
Jump up^ Jnana yoga is the path of wisdom, knowledge, and direct experience ofBrahman as the ultimate reality. The path renounces
both desires and actions, and is therefore depicted as being steep and very difficult in the Bhagavad Gita.[111]
Jump up^ Werner writes, "The word Yoga appears here for the first time in its fully technical meaning, namely as a systematic training,
and it already received a more or less clear formulation in some other middle Upanishads....Further process of the systematization of Yoga
as a path to the ultimate mystic goal is obvious in subsequent Yoga Upanishads and the culmination of this endeavour is represented by
Patanjali's codification of this path into a system of the eightfold Yoga."[106]
Jump up^ Worthington writes, "Yoga fully acknowledges its debt to Jainism, and Jainism reciprocates by making the practice of yoga part
and parcel of life."[146]
Jump up^ Eliade, Mircea, Yoga - Immortality and Freedom, Princeton, 1958: Princeton Univ.Pr. (original title: Le Yoga. Immortalit et
Libert, Paris, 1954: Libr. Payot)
Jump up^ "The Meditation school, called 'Ch'an' in Chinese from the Sanskrit 'dhyna,' is best known in the West by the Japanese
pronunciation 'Zen'"[220]
Jump up^ Exact quote: "This phenomenon merits special attention since yogic roots are to be found in the Zen Buddhist school of




^ Jump up to:a b c White 2011.

Jump up^ The Lion's Roar: An Introduction to Tantra by Chogyam Trungpa. Shambhala, 2001 ISBN 1-57062-895-5
Jump up^ Edmonton Patric 2007,pali and its sinificance p. 332
^ Jump up to:a b Lama Yeshe. The Bliss of Inner Fire. Wisdom Publications. 1998, pg.135-141.
Jump up^ Denise Lardner Carmody, John Carmody, Serene Compassion. Oxford University Press US, 1996, page 68.
^ Jump up to:a b Stuart Ray Sarbacker, Samdhi: The Numinous and Cessative in Indo-Tibetan Yoga.SUNY Press, 2005, pp. 12.
^ Jump up to:a b Tattvarthasutra [6.1], see Manu Doshi (2007) Translation of Tattvarthasutra, Ahmedabad: Shrut Ratnakar p. 102
^ Jump up to:a b c Werner p. 119-20
Jump up^ Whicher, pp. 3839.
^ Jump up to:a b James Mallinson, "Sktism and Hathayoga," 28 June 2012. <URL> [accessed 19 September 2013] pg.1 "Scholarship on
hathayoga, my own included, unanimously declares it to be a reformation of tantric yoga introduced by the gurus of the Nath sampradaya,
in particular their supposed founder, Goraksa."
^ Jump up to:a b Burley, Mikel (2000). Hatha Yoga: Its Context, Theory and Practice. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. p. 16. "It is for this reason
that hatha-yoga is sometimes referred to as a variety of 'Tantrism'."
^ Jump up to:a b White 2011, p. 2.
Jump up^ Smith, Kelly B.; Pukall, Caroline F. (May 2009). "An evidence-based review of yoga as a complementary intervention for
patients with cancer". Psycho-Oncology 18 (5): 465475.doi:10.1002/pon.1411. PMID 18821529.
^ Jump up to:a b Vancampfort, D.; Vansteeland, K.; Scheewe, T.; Probst, M.; Knapen, J.; De Herdt, A.; De Hert, M. (July 2012). "Yoga in
schizophrenia: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials".Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 126 (1): 1220.doi:10.1111/j.16000447.2012.01865.x., 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2012.01865.x
Jump up^ Sharma, Manoj; Haider, Taj (October 2012). "Yoga as an Alternative and Complementary Treatment for Asthma: A Systematic
Review".Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine 17 (3): 212217.doi:10.1177/2156587212453727.



Jump up^ Innes, Kim E.; Bourguignon, Cheryl (NovemberDecember 2005). "Risk Indices Associated with the Insulin Resistance
Syndrome, Cardiovascular Disease, and Possible Protection with Yoga: A Systematic Review". Journal of the American Board of Family
Medicine 18 (6): 491519.doi:10.3122/jabfm.18.6.491.
Jump up^ Whicher, p. 67.
a b
^ Jump up to: Dasgupta, Surendranath (1975). A History of Indian Philosophy 1. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass. p. 226. ISBN 81-2080412-0.
Jump up^ Bryant 2009, p. 5.
Jump up^ Bryant 2009, p. xxxix.
Jump up^ Aranya, Swami Hariharananda (2000). Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali with Bhasvati. Calcutta, India: University of Calcutta.
p. 1. ISBN 81-87594-00-4.
Jump up^ Dasgupta, Surendranath (1975). A History of Indian Philosophy 1. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass. p. 227. ISBN 81-208-04120.
Jump up^ American Heritage Dictionary: "Yogi, One who practices yoga." Websters: "Yogi, A follower of the yoga philosophy; an ascetic."
a b c
^ Jump up to:
Jacobsen, p. 4.
a b
^ Jump up to: White 2011, p. 6.
Jump up^ White 2011, p. 7.
Jump up^ White 2011, p. 9.
Jump up^ White 2011, p. 10.
Jump up^ "Foreword". Jain Yog. Aadarsh Saahitya Sangh. 2004.
Jump up^ "blessings". Sambodhi. Aadarsh Saahitya Sangh. 2004.
Jump up^ Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Indian Philosophy, London, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1971 edition, Volume II, pp. 1920.
Jump up^ Bryant 2009, p. 10.
Jump up^ Bryant 2009, p. 457.
Jump up^ Flood 1996, pp. 82, 22449
Jump up^ Changing World Religions, Cults & Occult by Jerry Stokes
Jump up^ Einoo, Shingo (ed.) (2009). Genesis and Development of Tantrism. University of Tokyo. p. 45.
Jump up^ Banerjee, S.C., 1988.
Jump up^ White 2000, p. 7.
^ Jump up to:a b See Kriyananada, page 112.
Jump up^ See Burley, page 73.
Jump up^ See Introduction by Rosen, pp 12.
Jump up^ See translation by Mallinson.
Jump up^ On page 140, David Gordon White says of Gorakshanath: "... hatha yoga, in which field he was India's major systematizer and
Jump up^ Bajpai writes on page 524: "Nobody can dispute about the top ranking position of Sage Gorakshanath in the philosophy of
Jump up^ Eliade writes of Gorakshanath on page 303: "...he accomplished a new synthesis among certain Shaivist traditions
(Pashupata), tantrism, and the doctrines (unfortunately, so imperfectly known) of the siddhas that is, of the perfect yogis."
Jump up^ Davidson, Ronald. Indian Esoteric Buddhism.Columbia University Press. 2002, pg.169-235.
Jump up^ Larson, p. 142.
^ Jump up to:a b Jacobsen, p. 9.
Jump up^ Dupler, Douglas; Frey, Rebecca. Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed (2006). Retrieved 30 August 2012.
Jump up^ Crangle 1994, p. 4-7.
Jump up^ Possehl (2003), pp. 144145
^ Jump up to:a b Larson, p. 36.
^ Jump up to:a b Flood 1996, p. 87-90.
^ Jump up to:a b Crangle 1994, p. 4.
Jump up^ Crangle 1994, p. 5.
Jump up^ Feuerstein, Georg (2001). The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice. Arizona, USA: Hohm Press.
p. Kindle Locations 72997300. ISBN 978-1890772185.
Jump up^ Aranya, Swami Hariharananda (2000). "Introduction". Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali with Bhasvati. Calcutta, India: University of
Calcutta. p. xxiv. ISBN 81-87594-00-4.
Jump up^ Samuel 2008, p. 2-3.
Jump up^ Zimmer 1951, p. 217, 314.
Jump up^ Zimmer 1951, p. 217.
^ Jump up to:a b Crangle 1994, p. 7.
Jump up^ Crangle 1994, p. 5-7.
^ Jump up to:a b Samuel 2008, p. 8.
^ Jump up to:a b Flood 1996, p. 77.
Jump up^ Fllod 1996, p. 76-77.
Jump up^ White 2011, p. 3.
Jump up^ P. 132 A Student's Guide to A2 Religious Studies for the OCR Specification By Michael Wilcockson
Jump up^ Flood 1996, p. 95.
Jump up^ P. 99 The Wisdom of the Vedas By Jagadish Chandra Chatterji
^ Jump up to:a b White 2011, p. 4.
Jump up^ Burley, Mikel (2000). Hatha Yoga: Its Context, Theory and Practice. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. p. 25. ISBN 978-8120817067.
Jump up^ P. 25 Haha-Yoga: Its Context, Theory, and Practice By Mikel Burley
Jump up^ Flood 1996, p. 9495.
^ Jump up to:a b c d Jacobsen, p. 6.
Jump up^ Whicher, p. 12.
^ Jump up to:a b c Flood, p. 9495.





Jump up^ Whicher, p. 13.

Jump up^ Wynne, p. 50.
a b
^ Jump up to: Whicher, p. 11.
Jump up^ Flood 1996, p. 94.
Jump up^ P. 51 The Complete Idiot's Guide to Yoga By Joan Budilovsky, Eve Adamson
Jump up^ Total Heart Health P. 170 By Robert H. Schneider, Jeremy Z. Fields
Jump up^ P. 531 The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice By Georg Feuerstein (2002)
Jump up^ P. 538 The Yoga Tradition By Georg Feuerstein
Jump up^ Larson, p. 3435, 53.
Jump up^ Douglass, Laura (2011). "Thinking Through The Body: The Conceptualization Of Yoga As Therapy For Individuals With Eating
Disorders". Academic Search Premier: 83. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
Jump up^ Datta, Amaresh (1988). Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: devraj to jyoti. Sahitya Akademi. p. 1809. ISBN 978-81-260-1194-0.
Jump up^ Wynne, pp. 34.
Jump up^ Richard Gombrich, "Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo." Routledge and Kegan
Paul, 1988, p. 44.
Jump up^ Barbara Stoler Miller, "Yoga: Discipline of Freedom: the Yoga Sutra Attributed to Patanjali; a Translation of the Text, with
Commentary, Introduction, and Glossary of Keywords." University of California Press, 1996, p. 8.
Jump up^ Wynne, p. 92.
Jump up^ Wynne, p. 105.
a b
^ Jump up to: Wynne, p. 95.
Jump up^ Mallinson, James. 2007. The Khecarvidy of Adinath. London: Routledge. pg.17-19.
Jump up^ James Mallinson, "Sktism and Hathayoga," 6 March 2012. <URL> [accessed 10 June 2012] pgs. 20-21 "The Buddha himself
is said to have tried both pressing his tongue to the back of his mouth, in a manner similar to that of the hathayogic khecarmudr, and
ukkutikappadhna, a squatting posture which may be related to hathayogic techniques such as mahmudr, mahbandha, mahvedha,
mlabandha, and vajrsana in which pressure is put on the perineum with the heel, in order to force upwards the breath or Kundalin."
Jump up^ Wynne, pp. 4445,58.
Jump up^ Whicher, p. 17.
Jump up^ "Vedanta and Buddhism, A Comparative Study". Retrieved 29 August 2012.
Jump up^ Whicher, p. 1819.
^ Jump up to:a b c Jacobsen, p. 8.
Jump up^ Whicher, p. 20.
Jump up^ Whicher, p. 21.
Jump up^ Feuerstein, Georg (JanuaryFebruary 1988). "Introducing Yoga's Great Literary Heritage". Yoga Journal (78): 705.
^ Jump up to:a b White, David Gordon. Yoga in Practice. Princeton University Press 2012, page 14.
^ Jump up to:a b White, David Gordon (2003). Kiss of the Yogini. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 224. ISBN 0-226-89483-5.
^ Jump up to:a b Werner, p. 24.
Jump up^ Jacobsen, p. 10.
Jump up^ Flood, p. 96.
Jump up^ Fowler, p. xliv.
Jump up^ Jacobsen, p. 11.
Jump up^ Folwer, p. xli.
Jump up^ "Ch. 2.48" "Bhagavad-Gita As It Is" by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International.
Jump up^ Gambhirananda, p. 16.
Jump up^ Jacobsen, p. 46.
Jump up^ Fowler, p. xlv.
Jump up^ Whicher, p. 2526.
Jump up^ Wynne, p. 33.
Jump up^ Larson, p. 38.
Jump up^ Radhankrishnan, Indian Philosophy, London, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1971 edition, Volume II, p. 342.
Jump up^ Radhankrishnan, Indian Philosophy, London, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1971 edition, Volume II, p. 344.
Jump up^ Stiles 2001, p. x.
Jump up^ For an overview of the six orthodox schools, with detail on the grouping of schools, see: Radhakrishnan and Moore, "Contents,"
and pp. 453487.
Jump up^ For a brief overview of the yoga school of philosophy see: Chatterjee and Datta, p. 43.
Jump up^ Karel Werner, The Yogi and the Mystic. Routledge 1994, page 27. "Patanjali's system is unthinkable without Buddhism. As far
as its terminology goes there is much in the Yoga Sutras that reminds us of Buddhist formulations from the Pli Canon and even more so
from the Sarvstivda Abhidharma and from Sautrntika."
Jump up^ Larson, pp. 4445.
Jump up^ Karel Werner, The Yogi and the Mystic. Routledge 1994, page 27. "Patanjali's system is unthinkable without Buddhism. As far
as its terminology goes there is much in the Yoga Sutras that reminds us of Buddhist formulations from the Pli Canon and even more so
from the Sarvstivda Abhidharma and from Sautrntika."
Jump up^ For yoga acceptance of samkhya concepts, but with addition of a category for God, see: Radhakrishnan and Moore, p. 453.
Jump up^ For yoga as accepting the 25 principles of samkhya with the addition of God, see: Chatterjee and Datta, p. 43.
Jump up^ Mller (1899), Chapter 7, "Yoga Philosophy," p. 104.
Jump up^ Zimmer (1951), p. 280.
Jump up^ For Patanjali as the founder of the philosophical system called yoga see: Chatterjee and Datta, p. 42.
Jump up^ Larson, p. 2122.
Jump up^ 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. 9698.
Jump up^ For text and word-by-word translation as "Yoga is the inhibition of the modifications of the mind." See: Taimni, p. 6.

135. Jump up^ Barbara Stoler Miller, "Yoga: Discipline of Freedom: the Yoga Sutra Attributed to Patanjali; a Translation of the Text, with
Commentary, Introduction, and Glossary of Keywords." University of California Press, 1996, page 9.
136. Jump up^ Vivekanada, p. 115.
137. Jump up^ Phillips, Stephen H. (1995). Classical Indian Metaphysics: Refutations of Realism and the Emergence of "New Logic". Open
Court Publishing. pp. 1213.
a b
138. ^ Jump up to: Larson, p. 478.
139. Jump up^ Yoga Journal, Active Interest Media, Inc., 2006, p. 121, ISSN 01910965
140. Jump up^ Divanji, Prahlad, ed. (1954). Yoga Yajnavalkya: A Treatise on Yoga as Taught by Yogi Yajnavalkya. B.B.R.A. Society's
Monograph No. 3. Bombay, India: Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. p. 105.
141. Jump up^ Mohan, A.G. (2010). Krishnamacharya: His Life and Teachings. Shambhala Publications. p. 127.ISBN 978-1-59030-800-4.
142. ^ Jump up to:a b Tattvarthasutra [6.2]
143. Jump up^ Niyamasara [134-40]
144. Jump up^ Zydenbos, Robert. "Jainism Today and Its Future." Mnchen: Manya Verlag, 2006. p.66
145. Jump up^ Zydenbos (2006) p.66
146. Jump up^ Worthington, p. 35.
147. Jump up^ P. 313 The Integrity of the Yoga Darsana: A Reconsideration of the Classical Yoga By Ian Whicher
148. Jump up^ Dan Lusthaus. Buddhist Phenomenology: A Philosophical Investigation of Yogacara Buddhism and the Ch'eng Wei-shih Lun.
Published 2002 (Routledge). ISBN 0-7007-1186-4. pg 533
149. Jump up^ Simple Tibetan Buddhism: A Guide to Tantric Living By C. Alexander Simpkins, Annellen M. Simpkins. Published 2001. Tuttle
Publishing. ISBN 0-8048-3199-8
150. Jump up^ Larson, pp. 136139.
151. Jump up^ Cutler, Norman (1987). Songs of Experience. Indiana University Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-253-35334-4.
152. Jump up^ Larson, p. 137.
153. Jump up^ Jacobsen, p. 22.
154. ^ Jump up to:a b 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
155. Jump up^ Your ayurvedic constitution: Prakruti by Robert Svoboda Motilal Banarsidass Publication,2005;ISBN 978-81-208-18408 Google Books
156. Jump up^ 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
157. Jump up^ James Mallinson, "Sktism and Hathayoga," 28 June 2012. <URL> [accessed 19 September 2013] pgs. 2 "The earliest
references to hathayoga are scattered mentions in Buddhist canonical works and their exegesis dating from the eighth century onwards, in
which it is the soteriological method of last resort."
158. Jump up^ James Mallinson, "Sktism and Hathayoga," 28 June 2012. <URL> [accessed 19 September 2013] pgs. 2 "In its earliest
definition, in Pundarkas eleventh-century Vimalaprabh commentary on the Klacakratantra, hathayoga is said to bring about the
"unchanging moment" (aksaraksana) "through the practice of nda by forcefully making the breath enter the central channel and through
restraining the bindu of the bodhicitta in the vajra of the lotus of wisdom". While the means employed are not specified, the ends, in
particular restraining bindu, semen, and making the breath enter the central channel, are similar to those mentioned in the earliest
descriptions of the practices of hathayoga, to which I now turn."
159. Jump up^ Larson, p. 140.
160. Jump up^ Raub, James A.. Psychophysiologic Effects of Hatha Yoga on Musculoskeletal and Cardiopulmonary Function: A Literature
161. Jump up^ Living Yoga: Creating a Life Practice Page 42 by Christy Turlington (page 42)
162. Jump up^ "Guiding Yoga's Light: Yoga Lessons for Yoga Teachers" Page 10 by Nancy Gerstein
163. Jump up^ "Mindfulness Yoga: The Awakened Union of Breath Body & Mind" Page 6 by Frank Jude Boccio
164. Jump up^ Burley, Mikel (2000). Hatha Yoga: Its Context, Theory and Practice. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. p. 16. ISBN 978-8120817067.
165. Jump up^ Feuerstein, Georg. (1996). "The Shambhala Guide to Yoga." Boston & London: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
166. Jump up^ Hatha Yoga "Hatha Yoga - Art of Living"
167. Jump up^ Dhillon, p. 249.
168. Jump up^ Dhillon, p. 255.
169. Jump up^ Mansukhani, Gobind Singh (2009). Introduction To Sikhism. Hemkunt Press. p. 66. ISBN 978-81-7010-181-9.
170. Jump up^ Dhillon, Harish (2010). Guru Nanak. Indus Source Books. p. 178. ISBN 978-81-88569-02-1.
171. ^ Jump up to:a b Shaw, Eric. 35 mOMents, Yoga Journal, 2010-09.
172. Jump up^ Goldberg, Philip, American Veda. From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation. How Indian Spirituality Changed the
West, New York, 2010: Harmony Books, pp.21ff., Von Glasenapp, Hellmuth, Die Philosophie der Inder, Stuttgart, 1974: A. Kroener Verlag,
p. 166f.
173. ^ Jump up to:a b "Fear of Yoga". Retrieved 28 August 2013.
174. Jump up^ De Michelis, Elizabeth, A History Of Modern Yoga. Patanjali and Modern Esotericism. London, 2004: Continuum Books, pp.
175. Jump up^ Flood, Gavin D., Body and Cosmology in Kashmir Saivism, San Francisco, 1993: Mellen Research University Press, pp.229ff.
176. Jump up^ Singleton, Mark (12 January 2010). Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice. Oxford University Press. p.32,
50. ISBN 9780199745982. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
177. Jump up^ Joseph S. Alter (30 August 2004). Yoga in Modern India: The Body between Science and Philosophy. Princeton University
Press. p.87. ISBN 9780691118741. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
178. Jump up^ Title: A History of Modern Yoga. Author: Elizabeth De Michelis. Published: Continuum, 2005
179. Jump up^ Bryant 2009, p. xviii.
180. Jump up^ Cushman, Ann (JanuaryFebruary 2000). "The New Yoga". Yoga p. 68. Retrieved 5 February 2011.
181. Jump up^ Silva, Mira, and Mehta, Shyam. (1995). Yoga the Iyengar Way, p. 9. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.ISBN 0-89381-731-7
182. Jump up^ Desikachar, T. K. V. (2005). Health, healing and beyond: Yoga and the living tradition of Krishnamacharya, (cover jacket text).
Aperture, USA. ISBN 978-0-89381-731-2
183. Jump up^ Congressional Honorary Resolution 521 US Library of Congress
184. Jump up^ Singleton, Mark. (2010). Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice, p. 161. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN









Jump up^ Chidanand Rajghatta. "US President Barack Obama throws weight behind yoga". Times of India. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
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Jump up^ DeStasio, Susan A. Integrating Yoga Into Cancer Care. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing. February 2008, Volume 12 Issue
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survey". IJOY, International Journal of Yoga 5 (2): 92101. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.98217. PMC 3410203.PMID 22869991. Retrieved 20
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External links[edit]

Yoga: A Holistic Way of Life!

If you think of people in seemingly impossible and weirdly twisted poses when you think of "Yoga", then you may have an inkling of
what yoga is, just an inkling, that's it. But Yoga is much more than those poses.
It is a complete way of life including - Gyan Yoga or philosophy, Bhakti Yoga or path of devotional bliss, Karma Yoga or path of
blissful action and Raja Yoga or path of mind control.Raja Yoga is further divided into eight parts, of which only one part is Asana or
postures. Derived from the Sankrit word "yuj" which means "to unite or integrate"; yoga is a 5000 year old Indian body of knowledge.
Yoga is all about harmonizing the body with the mind and breath through the means of various breathing techniques, yoga postures
(asanas) and meditation.

Sri Sri Yoga

Sri Sri Yoga is a 10 hours' workshop spread over 3-5 days, uniting the body, breath and mind in a joyful experience. A combination
of gentle and vigorous series of Asanas is taught for holistic well-being of the body, while an equal emphasis is placed on
techniques for nurturing the mind and spirit.
The program provides a multi dimensional routine with includes Yoga postures, Breathing techniques, Yogic knowledge and
Meditation, which gives the students a complete take home practice. It is a complete package for beginners as well as regular
practitioners and something for every one of all age groups. Through the practices taught in the workshop, participants can lose
weight and be cured of chronic diseases such as insomnia, asthma, diabetes, hypertension and migraine.

Yoga For Everyone

Yoga has never been alien to us. It's a way of our life. We have been doing it since we were a baby! Whether it is the Cat Stretch
that strengthens the spine or the Wind-Relieving pose that boosts digestion, you will always see kids do some form of yoga
throughout the day. It keeps the body healthy and the mind clear. Yoga can be many things to many people. Our strong parts are
striving to be flexible and our flexible parts are striving to be strong. Yoga can create a wonderful sense of balance in your body,
mind and spirit. It is our mission to help you on that journey in an open and loving environment.

Ayurveda: The Science of Life

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of natural and holistic medicine. It uses the inherent principles of nature, to help maintain
health in a person by keeping the individual's body, mind and spirit in perfect equilibrium with nature. Ayurveda insists that within
natures balance lies all the remedies for good health. Practicing ayurveda also improves your yoga practice, a perfect win-win
situation! This section sheds light on how ayurveda can uplift our life in every sphere.

Breathing Techniques (Pranayama) & Meditation


Pranayama is the extension and control of ones breath. Practicing proper techniques of breathing can help bring more oxygen to
the blood and brain, eventually helping control prana or the vital life energy. Pranayama also goes hand in hand with various yoga
asanas. The union of these two yogic principles is considered as the highest form of purification and self-discipline, covering both
mind and body. Pranayama techniques also prepare us for a deeper experience of meditation. Know more about various
pranayama techniques in these sections.

Patanjali Yoga Sutras

This section lays an exclusive commentary by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on the ancient scripture,Patanjali Yoga Sutras, which will
enlighten you on the knowledge of yoga, its origin and purpose. The goal of this rendition of the Yoga Sutras is to make the
principles and practices of the Yoga Sutras more understandable and accessible. The descriptions of each sutra offered by Sri Sri
Ravi Shankar attempts to focus on the practical suggestions of what can be done to experience the ultimate benefits of a yogic

Feeling held back due to a physical ailment? Are emotions taking a toll on your personal and work life? Fill in the form below to learn
more about how yoga can aide you in overcoming issues naturally with minimum lifestyle changes.

yoga info 101

Welcome to our yoga resource section! The info below covers:

What is yoga?
Different yoga styles
What to wear to yoga
Yoga in your community
Video: A yoga class with ambassador Chris Chavez
Video: Sun salutations with ambassador Eoin Finn

what is yoga?
The word "yoga" comes from the Sanskrit root "yuj", which means "to yoke" the spirit and physical body together. Yoga has evolved over thousands of
years to embrace a wide range of styles and disciplines.
Yoga is a popular activity for athletes, children, and seniors. Yoga can be modified to suit all levels of fitness. Yoga has been proven to lower blood
pressure and increases strength and flexibility. Yoga energizes our bodies and calms our minds.

yoga quickguide

Aerial: Fluid, acrobatic yoga... in a hammock.

Anusara: Playful. Expect to laugh and go upside down.
Ashtanga: Athletic and vigorous.
Bikram: Consistent poses in a very heated studio.
Hatha: Foundation for many yoga styles. Great for beginners.
Hot: Make sure to bring a towel -- or two!
Iyengar: With a focus on structure, usually uses blocks, straps for support.
Kundalini: Focused on meditation and breathing.
Power/Flow/Vinyasa: An athletic and physically challenging style.
Pre- and Post-natal: Gentle Hatha yoga is ideal for pregnant women to help lower stress.
Yin: A slow class that will take you deeper than you've ever gone.
Here's the extended version of each style mentioned above:


It's easy to free your mind when a hammock is gently cradling you and gravity does the work of deepening your stretch. The compression-free inversions
can be terrifying at first until you realize that the hammock has your back. Aerial yoga is all about trust. Trust and the blissful sensation that you're

Expect a playful class with a strong focus on proper alignment and Tantric yoga philosophy (not what you're thinking). It (like most yoga) is derived from
Hatha yoga.

This practice is very athletic and made up of six vigorous series of postures. It's one of the oldest forms of yoga and is considered to be the foundation of
much of the yoga we see today in the west.

You're going to sweat in a Bikram's class, more than you ever thought was possible. Bikram yoga consists of 26 postures and breathing exercises
repeated twice (that's right 90 minutes) in a room heated to 105 degrees. Heads up - humidity is 40% and will knock you over the first time.

learn more about bikram yoga >>

The foundation of every style of yoga mentioned here. Traditional Hatha yoga is a holistic path that includes disciplines, physical postures (asana),
purification procedures, breathing (pranayama), and meditation. Hatha practiced in the West consists of mostly physical postures and is also recognized
as a gentle introductory yoga for people new to yoga.

learn more about hatha yoga >>

By adding heat it is said that classes will help you lose weight, loosen your muscles (by adding increased range of motion) and improve your
cardiovascular system. It differs from Bikram's in that the series of postures are not always (but can be) in any particular order and modifications are
often offered.

Read this blog post for hot yoga tips from experts.

Expect a class emphasizing healing the body and mind through use of supported postures. One of the oldest forms of yoga, it's for a person who loves
technical intricacies and is also great for people who are new to yoga or have any issues with their health.

learn more about iyengar yoga >>

Don't be surprised if your waving your hands like you just don't care or laughing uncontrollably, this practice is intended to wake up the kundalini energy
coiled at the base of your spine while activating chakras (energetic centers in the body), as well as detox the body and mind.

learn more about kundalini yoga >>

Many say Power yoga is the Western interpretation of Ashtanga. It is sometimes done in a heated room and focuses on the breath as fuel for the practice.
This practice can be challenging for beginners, but is a nice balance to more gentle forms of yoga once you become comfortable with the different

Derived from Ashtanga yoga, expect a class full of rhythmical flow (often combined with music) connecting each moment with unifying pranayama
(breath). Classes can be more meditative or focused on the natural movement of the body, almost like dancing through postures. A great transiti on from
Hatha when you're looking for more of a challenge.

learn more about vinyasa yoga >>

Some believe that Yin yoga is the oldest form of Hatha yoga, since it is the ideal method of physical conditioning for prolonged meditation. Don't let the
props and gentle movement fool you, this is not a form of restorative yoga. The long holds require that you focus and release all effort from the muscles.

Yin classes often use props like bolsters or blocks.

last but not least

Remember: your body is your best guide. You don't have to stick to one kind of yoga, just do what your body needs!
There are many other styles not mentioned here that we encourage you to discover for yourself. The bottom line is: if it doesn't feel right, don't do it.

what to wear to yoga

Proper alignment of yoga postures is important for many types of yoga. Choose clothes that are not too baggy and that help you and your yoga instructor
make sure you're not doing anything harmful to your body. In more physical types of yoga and especially in hot classes, expect to sweat. Wear clothes
that dry quickly, wick moisture away, and will keep you as comfortable as possible to get the most out of your yoga class. Fabrics with stretch will help
you feel most comfortable as you move from pose to pose. Whatever you choose to wear to class, you should be able to move freely and feel good.

yoga props and blocks

Yoga blocks and straps are great tools for beginner to seasoned yogis. Some styles of yoga, such as Iyengar, require more use of yoga props (such as
straps) than others to help you better align yourself in a pose or get into "hard to reach" postures. Try sitting on a yoga block with your legs crossed to
help open your hips up.

Check out available yoga blocks and straps

yoga mats
You're going to be spending a lot of time up close and personal with your mat. Yoga mats come in a variety of colours, sizes and thicknesses. Are you a
traveling yogi? Look for thin travel mats that fold up so you can take your downdog on the road. Shop now for lululemon yoga mats and choose a mat that

fits your lifestyle.

Shop for lululemon yoga mats

try a local yoga class

Every lululemon location offers complimentary yoga lead by local yogis in your community. Learn more about these neighbourhood yoga classes on the gift of
yoga page.

yoga videos
yoga at lunch
Our global ambassador Chris Chavez recently stopped by our office to teach a yoga class over lunch. Check out a sneak peek from the video:

how to do a sun salutation

Watch Eoin Finn, global lululemon ambassador, demo a sun salutation for you:

What Is Yoga, Really?

Most of us are accustomed to looking
outside of ourselves for fulfillment. We are
living in a world that conditions us to believe
that outer attainments can give us what we
want. Yet again and again our experiences
show us that nothing external can
completely fulfill the deep longing within for
"something more." Most of the time,
however, we find ourselves striving toward
that which always seems to lie just beyond
our reach. We are caught up in doing rather
than being, in action rather than awareness.
It is hard for us to picture a state of
complete calmness and repose in which
thoughts and feelings cease to dance in
perpetual motion. Yet it is through such a
state of quietude that we can touch a level
of joy and understanding impossible to
achieve otherwise.
It is said in the Bible: "Be still and know that I am God." In these few words lies the key
to the science of Yoga. This ancient spiritual science offers a direct means of stilling the
natural turbulence of thoughts and restlessness of body that prevent us from knowing
what we really are.
Ordinarily our awareness and energies are directed outward, to the things of this world,
which we perceive through the limited instruments of our five senses. Because human
reason has to rely upon the partial and often deceptive data supplied by the physical
senses, we must learn to tap deeper and more subtle levels of awareness if we would
solve the enigmas of life Who am I? Why am I here? How do I realize Truth?
Yoga is a simple process of reversing the ordinary outward flow of energy and
consciousness so that the mind becomes a dynamic center of direct perception no
longer dependent upon the fallible senses but capable of actually experiencing Truth.

By practicing the step-bystep methods of Yoga taking

nothing for granted on
emotional grounds or through
blind faith we come to know
our oneness with the Infinite
Intelligence, Power, and Joy
which gives life to all and
which is the essence of our
own Self.
In past centuries many of the
higher techniques of Yoga were little understood or practiced, owing to mankind's
limited knowledge of the forces that run the universe. But today scientific investigation
is rapidly changing the way we view ourselves and the world. The traditional
materialistic conception of life has vanished with the discovery that matter and energy
are essentially one: every existing substance can be reduced to a pattern or form of
energy, which interacts and interconnects with other forms. Some of today's most
celebrated physicists go a step further, identifying consciousness as the fundamental
ground of all being. Thus modern science is confirming the ancient principles of Yoga,
which proclaim that unity pervades the universe.
The word yoga itself means "union": of the individual consciousness or soul with the
Universal Consciousness or Spirit. Though many people think of yoga only as physical
exercises the asanas or postures that have gained widespread popularity in recent
decades these are actually only the most superficial aspect of this profound science of
unfolding the infinite potentials of the human mind
and soul.
There are various paths of Yoga that lead toward this
goal, each one a specialized branch of one
comprehensive system:
Hatha Yoga a system of physical postures,
or asanas, whose higher purpose is to purify the body,
giving one awareness and control over its internal
states and rendering it fit for meditation.
Karma Yoga selfless service to others as part of
one's larger Self, without attachment to the results;
and the performance of all actions with the

consciousness of God as the Doer.

Mantra Yoga centering the consciousness within through japa, or the repetition of
certain universal root-word sounds representing a particular aspect of Spirit.
Bhakti Yoga all-surrendering devotion through which one strives to see and love the
divinity in every creature and in everything, thus maintaining an unceasing worship.
Jnana (Gyana) Yoga the path of wisdom, which emphasizes the application of
discriminative intelligence to achieve spiritual liberation.
Raja Yoga the royal or highest path of Yoga, immortalized by Bhagavan Krishna in
the Bhagavad Gita and formally systematized in the second century B.C. by the Indian
sage Patanjali, which combines the
essence of all the other paths.
At the heart of the Raja Yoga system,
balancing and unifying these various
approaches, is the practice of definite,
scientific methods of meditation that
enable one to perceive, from the very
beginning of one's efforts, glimpses of
the ultimate goal conscious union
with the inexhaustibly blissful Spirit.
The quickest and most effective
approach to the goal of Yoga employs
those methods of meditation that deal
directly with energy and
consciousness. It is this direct
approach that characterizes Kriya
Yoga, the particular form of Raja Yoga
meditation taught by Paramahansa
Next: The Eightfold Path of Yoga

The Eightfold Path of Yoga

The Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Yoga, the timeless science behind all true religions, consists of systematic and definite
steps to realization of the souls oneness with
The Bhagavad Gita, which is a sacred
dialogue between the divine teacher Krishna
and his disciple Arjuna, is Indias most
beloved scripture of yoga, as explained in
Paramahansa Yoganandas definitive twovolume translation and commentary: God
Talks With Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
Royal Science of God-Realization.
The essence of the yoga path was set forth in
systematic form by the ancient sage Patanjali
in his short but masterly work, the Yoga
Sutras. Paramahansa Yogananda has written:
Patanjalis date is unknown, though many
scholars assign him to the second century
B.C. His renowned Yoga Sutras presents, in a
series of brief aphorisms, the condensed essence of the exceedingly vast and intricate
science of God-union setting forth the method of uniting the soul with the
undifferentiated Spirit in such a beautiful, clear, and concise way that generations of
scholars have acknowledged the Yoga Sutras as the foremost ancient work on yoga.
The yoga system of Patanjali is known as the Eightfold Path, which leads to the final
goal of God-realization.

Patanjalis Eightfold Path of Yoga:

1. Yama (moral conduct): noninjury to others, truthfulness, nonstealing,
continence, and noncovetousness
2. Niyama (religious observances): purity of body and mind, contentment in all
circumstances, self-discipline, self-study (contemplation), and devotion to God
and guru
3. Asana: right posture
4. Pranayama: control of prana, the subtle life currents in the body

5. Pratyahara: interiorization through withdrawal of the senses from external

6. Dharana: focused concentration; holding the mind to one thought or object
7. Dhyana: meditation, absorption in the vast perception of God in one of His
infinite aspects Bliss, Peace, Cosmic Light, Cosmic Sound, Love, Wisdom,
etc. all-pervading throughout the whole universe
8. Samadhi: superconscious experience of the oneness of the individualized soul
with Cosmic Spirit

"When you meditate long...the glory of the Divine shines forth.

You realize then that all along there was something tremendous
within you, and you did not know it."
Paramahansa Yogananda

Paramahansa Yoganandas SRF Lessons for

Home Study

The Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons are

unique among Paramahansa Yoganandas
published writings in that they give his stepby-step instructions in the yoga techniques
of meditation, concentration, and
energization that he taught, including Kriya
The goal of these simple yet highly effective
yoga techniques is to teach you to deal
directly with energy and consciousness
enabling you to recharge your body with
energy, to awaken the mind's unlimited
power, and to experience a deepening
awareness of the Divine in your life.
The Lessons were compiled under
Paramahansa Yoganandas direction from his
writings and the many classes and lectures
he gave. In addition to his comprehensive

instructions in meditation, the Lessons offer practical guidance for every aspect of
spiritual living how to live joyfully and successfully amidst the unceasing
challenges and opportunities in this world of change.
Each lesson is 68 pages in length, and is meant to be studied for one week. The
entire course of Lessons lasts about 3 years.

Topics Include:

The scientific
techniques of
yoga meditation
How to weave
God into your
daily life
Friendship the
art of getting
along with others
harmony in
marriage and
family life
How to develop
creative intuition
Finding your true
and balanced
success and
Yoga methods of
diet, healing,
relaxation, and
Living without
stress and fear
The dynamic
power of will
how to create at
will what you
Life after death
Karma and

Meditation Techniques Offered to

Followers of All Religions
Since Yoga is based on practice and experience rather than on adherence to a
particular set of beliefs, followers of all religions can benefit from the spiritual
teachings in the Lessons and the three basic techniques. When practiced regularly,
these methods lead unfailingly to deeper levels of spiritual awareness and

Kriya Yoga
After a preliminary period of study and practice of the basic techniques, students
are eligible to apply for initiation in Kriya Yoga. At this time they formally establish
the sacred guru-disciple relationship with Paramahansa Yogananda and his lineage
of gurus.
The technique of Kriya Yoga is given in person at special initiation ceremonies, as
well as sent to each initiate in a special series of printed lessons that cover every
aspect of the Kriya science.

Personal Guidance and

Other Services to
Lessonsstudents can also
receive personal guidance in
their practice at any time, free of
charge, from experienced
meditation counselors of the
Self-Realization Fellowship
Monastic Order, by contacting
the International Headquarters.
In addition, students can attend classes on the techniques of meditation conducted
periodically by SRF monastics all over the world. (These classes are open only
to Lessons students.)
Students also receive special letters of inspiration and encouragement from the
SRF president throughout the year, as well as newsletters and other publications
from Self-Realization Fellowship.

Cost and Timing

The Lessons are divided into six steps of thirty lessons each, and two lessons are
mailed every other week. It takes about 3 years to receive all of them. All of the
basic meditation techniques that are
preparatory to Kriya Yoga are mailed
during the first 6 months.
It was Paramahansa Yogananda's wish that
the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons be
easily available to all who sincerely desire
to know God. To this end, the Lessons have
always been offered for only a nominal fee
to help cover printing and postage costs currently about 70 cents per lesson.
Full details and subscription/mailing plans are outlined on the Lessons application
form, available here.
Please allow 46 weeks for your first lessons to reach you.
Lessons by e-mail are not available at this time.

After practicing your Lessons for six months, I have found all you have taught me
to be true. You have proven the existence of God to me, something I once thought

C.C., Vienna, Virginia.

Applying online is quick

and easy. You can also
pay online with your
credit card. This will
reduce processing time for
your application.
If you prefer, you can also
apply by mail. If you
select this option,
please download the application
form and mail it to the
address on the application

Lessons Introduction
(download PDF)

What is Yoga: Definition of Yoga and the Six Branches of Yoga

Written by: shaynebance

What comes into your mind when you hear the word Yoga?
Well, if you think of women in seemingly impossible poses, then you may have an inkling of what Yoga is.
But that's just it - an inkling. You've got a long way to go before fully understanding Yoga.
Yoga is an ancient Indian body of knowledge that dates back more than 500"
class="related_products_container"0 years ago. The word "Yoga" came from the Sanskrit word "yuj" which
means "to unite or integrate." Yoga then is about the union of a person's own consciousness and the
universal consciousness.
Ancient Yogis had a belief that in order for man to be in harmony with himself and his environment, he has
to integrate the body, the mind, and the spirit. For these three to be integrated, emotion, action, and
intelligence must be in balance. The Yogis formulated a way to achieve and maintain this balance and it is
done through exercise, breathing, and Meditation - the three main Yoga structures.
In Yoga, the body is treated with care and respect for it is the primary
instrument in man's work and growth. Yoga Exercises improve circulation, stimulate the abdominal organs,
and put pressure on the glandular system of the body, which can generally result to better health.
Breathing techniques were developed based on the concept that breath is the source of life. In Yoga,
students gain breathing control as they slowly increase their breathing. By focusing on their breathing, they
prepare their minds for the next step - Meditation.
There is a general misconception that in Meditation, your mind has to go blank. It doesn't have to be so. In Meditation, students bring the activities of the
mind into focus resulting in a 'quiet' mind. By designing physical poses and Breathing Techniques that develop awareness of our body, Yoga helps us
focus and relieves us from our everyday stress.

Six Branches of Yoga

Hatha Yoga or Yoga of Postures

Hatha Yoga is perhaps the path of Yoga you are most familiar with since this is the most popular
branch of Yoga in the West. This branch of Yoga uses physical poses or Asana, Breathing
Techniques or Pranayama, and Meditation to achieve better health, as well as spirituality. There
are many styles within this path - Iyengar, Integral, Astanga, Kripalu, and Jiva Mukti to name a
If what you want is a peaceful mind and a healthy body to go along with it, Hatha Yoga may just
be the path for you.
Bhakti Yoga or Yoga of Devotion
Bhakti Yoga is the path most followed in India. This is the path of the heart and devotion. Yogis
who practice this branch sees the "One" or the Divine in everyone and everything. Bhakti Yoga
teaches a person to have devotion to the "One" or to Brahma by developing a person's love and
acceptance for all things.
Raja Yoga or Yoga of Self-Control
Raja means "royal". This path is considered to be the King of Yoga and this may be due to the
fact that most of its practitioners are members of religious and spiritual orders. Raja Yoga is
based on the teachings of the Eight Limbs of Yoga found in the Yoga sutras.

A Raja Yogi sees the self as central, and as such, respect to oneself and for all creation are vital
to this path. They achieve self-respect by first learning to be masters of themselves.
If you wish to learn discipline, then Raja Yoga would perfectly suit that need.
Jnana Yoga or Yoga of the Mind
Jnana Yoga is the path of Yoga that basically deals with the mind, and as such, it focuses on
man's intelligence. Jnana Yogis consider wisdom and intellect as important and they aim to unify
the two to surpass limitations. Since they wish to gain knowledge, they are open to other
philosophies and religion for they believe that an open and rational mind is crucial in knowing
the spirit.
Karma Yoga or Yoga of Service
Karma Yoga is the path of service for in this path, it is believed that your present situation is
based on your past actions. So by doing selfless service now, you are choosing a future that is
free from negativity and selfishness. Karma Yogis change their attitude towards the good and in
the process, change their souls, which leads to a change in their destiny.
Tantra Yoga or Yoga of Rituals
Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the paths, Tantra Yoga is about using rituals to experience
what is sacred. Although sex is a part of it, sex is not the whole of it since this path aims to find
what is sacred in everything we do. Tantra Yogis must possess certain qualities like purity,
humility, devotion, dedication to his Guru, cosmic love, and truthfulness among other things.
There are still a lot of misconceptions about Yoga, for instance, Yoga being a religion. Yoga is
not a religion. It is more of a set of techniques for us to find spirituality. In fact, Yoga is being
practiced by a lot of people from different religions like Christians, Jewish, Buddhists, and

Another misconception is that Yoga is an exercise, a way for us to keep fit. It is partly true, but if
you think that Yoga is just that then you are greatly mistaken. Yoga develops the body since a
weak one is a hindrance to spiritual growth. It does not simply focus on the physical but on the
mental and spiritual aspects as well.
Yoga in Your Life
You may ask, "Is Yoga for me?"

Definitely, yes! Yoga is for anyone who is willing to learn its ways and ideas. It does not
actually require any special equipment or clothing. What it requires is your will to have a healthier, stress-free self.
You may first approach Yoga as a way to achieve a great body or to keep fit and that is perfectly alright. Yoga really does help in improving your health
for stretching can tone your muscles and exercise your spine and your entire skeletal system.
Do not just take advantage of what Yoga can offer. Yoga encourages you to reflect on yourself and to find your inner peace. It exercises not just your
body but your mind as well. With a healthy body and mind, you're on your way to a more fulfilling life.

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