Compiled by Jayaram V
"Yoga [is] a systematic discipline which includes a technique
for the mastery of the bodily organism and for rendering it healthy....and
various methods or techniques of mind training for the sake of gaining
the final knowledge and liberation. According to the Hindu religious
tradition it was revealed to [humanity] by [The Lord] and even gods
gained immortality and their supreme powers by its practice." Werner,
Karel. A Popular Dictionary of Hinduism, p. 182
"The term Yoga comes from the root yuj, "to yoke or join." Here
it is used to mean the Union of the individual spirit...with the
Universal Spirit...The art of Yoga is defined as a system of culture
for perfecting human efficiency. It claims to destroy the defects
and diseases of the body and mind, to establish health and bestow
happiness, to develop intelligence, and reveal true knowledge of
Self, and to extract the nectar of all things." Bernard, Theos.
Hindu Philosophy, p. 86
Antecdents of yoga
Yoga in particular refers to widely diffused spiritual
methodologies which on the one hand can be linked to with such
thoroughly Brahminical practices as tapas or 'ascetic heating'
and yet, on the other hand, seem clearly to have originated, at
least in part, in non-Brahmanical circles and to be widely
practiced without regard to specific ideological allegiances.
Ian Whicher and David Carpenter From Yoga: The Indian Tradition
When Yoga is for you?
The mind cannot enter on the path of yoga because yoga means
a methodology to reveal the truth. Yoga is a method to come to a
nondreaming mind. Yoga is the science to be in the here and now.
Yoga means now you are ready not to move into the future. Yoga
means you are ready now to hope, not to jump ahead of your
being. Yoga means to encounter the reality as it is. So, you can
enter yoga or the path of yoga only when you are totally
frustrated with your own mind as it is. If you are still hoping
that you can gain something through your mind, yoga is not for
you. Acarya Rajneesh, From Yoga: The Science of the Soul
For yoga practice to be successful, there can be no
separation of practice and philosophy. Indeed, new approaches to
practice have always come out of philosophy, while practice
prepares the intellection for philosophy. Gregor Maehle from
Ashtanga Yoga: Practice and philosophy.
The Meaning and Purpose of Yoga
Yoga means a state or condition, a technique, auspiciousness
and union. Patanjali defined yoga as the cessation of the modifications
of the mind. The practice of yoga leads to mental stability,
equanimity, concentration, meditation, good health, supernatural
powers, devotion, self-transformation and liberation.
All the chapters in the Bhagavadgita contain the word yoga, signifying
its importance in Hinduism and in achieving liberation. Yoga is
the means and yoga is also the goal. Through the practice of yoga
you reach the highest state of yoga, which is union with your inner
Self or with the Supreme Self.
Yoga is a multidisciplinary tool extremely useful to purify
the mind and body and gain control over our minds and emotions.
Yoga is also the most popular means for self-transformation and
It is useful for both the wordily people seeking mental peace
and ascetics seeking liberation. Yoga helps you to become a better
person, a better human being and a better devotee.
The most popular forms of yoga are classical yoga of Patanjali,
also known as Ashtanga yoga, karma yoga, jnana yoga and bhakti yoga.
Some Saiva traditions practice hatha yoga, mantra yoga and tantra
Inherent to all these yogas are Sanyasa Yoga (the yoga of renunciation)
and buddhi yoga (the yoga of one pointed intelligence). Yoga is
an ancient ascetic practice which is mentioned and defined in several
early Upanishads such as the Katha Upanishads. Besides there are
several Yoga Upanishads which are exclusively devoted to its practice.
Yoga is the gift of Hinduism to the world. Yoga is practiced
in other religions also, such as Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.
But it is essentially a Hindu practice whose origins are rooted
in the Vedas, more especially in the Upanishads.
Suggested Further Reading