What is Yoga?

Yoga (योग) is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India. Yoga is one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophical traditions. There is a broad variety of yoga schools, practices, and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The term “yoga” in the Western world often denotes a modern form of Hatha yoga, which includes the physical practice of postures called asanas.

 

During the twentieth century, the philosophy and practice of Yoga became increasingly popular in the West.

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Sahaja Yoga

Sahaja Yoga Sahaja Yoga is a religion founded in 1970 by Nirmala Srivastava (1923–2011). Nirmala Srivastava is known as Her Holiness Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi or as “Mother” by her followers, who are called Sahaja yogis. During meditation, seekers of truth experience a state of self-realization produced by kundalini awakening, and this is accompanied by the experience...

Buddhism Monk Temple Panorama Buddhist Meditation

Yogi

Yogi A yogi is a practitioner of Yoga, including a sannyasin or practitioner of meditation in Indian religions. The feminine form, sometimes used in English, is yogini. Yogi has since the 12th century CE also denoted members of the Nath siddha tradition of Hinduism, and in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, a practitioner of tantra. In Hindu mythology, the god Shiva and the goddess Parvati are depicted as an emblematic yogi–yogini pair. Etymology In Classical...

Yoga Lotus Meditation

Meditative Postures

Meditative Postures Meditative postures or meditation seats are the body positions or asanas, usually sitting but also sometimes standing or reclining, used to facilitate meditation. Best known in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions are the lotus and kneeling positions; other options include sitting on a chair, with the spine upright. Meditation is sometimes practiced while...

Yoga Meditation Vipassana The Ashram Energy

Dharana

Dharana Dharana (धारणा) is translated as “collection or concentration of the mind (joined with the retention of breath)”, or “the act of holding, bearing, wearing, supporting, maintaining, retaining, keeping back (in remembrance), a good memory”, or “firmness, steadfastness, certainty”. This term is related to the verbal Sanskrit roots dha and ana, to hold, carry,...

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Pratyahara

Pratyahara Pratyahara (प्रत्याहार, Pratyāhāra) or the ‘withdrawal of the senses’ is the fifth element among the Eight stages of Patanjali‘s Ashtanga Yoga, as mentioned in his classical work, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali composed in the 2nd century BCE. It is also the first stage of the six-branch yoga (ṣaḍaṅgayoga) of the Buddhist Kālacakra tantra, where it refers...

Group of people practicing Prāṇāyāma

Pranayama

Pranayama Pranayama is the yogic practice of focusing on breath. In Sanskrit, prana means “vital life force”, and yama means to gain control. In yoga, breath is associated with the prana, thus, pranayama is a means to elevate the prana shakti, or life energies. Pranayama is described in Hindu texts like the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Later in Hatha yoga texts,...

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Niyama

Niyama The Niyamas (नियम, Niyama) are positive duties or observances. In Indian traditions, particularly Yoga, niyamas and their complement, Yamas, are recommended activities and habits for healthy living, spiritual enlightenment, and a liberated state of existence. It has multiple meanings depending on context in Hinduism. In Buddhism, the term extends to the determinations of nature, as in...

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Yamas

Yamas The Yamas (यम, Yama), and their complement, the Niyamas, represent a series of “right living” or ethical rules within Yoga philosophy. It means “reining in” or “control”. These are restraints for proper conduct as given in the Vedas and the Yoga Sutras. They are a form of moral imperatives, commandments, rules or goals. The Yamas are the...

The Yoga Yajnavalkya is an ancient text that describes a combination of jnana-yoga, karma-yoga, bhakti-yoga techniques as well as pranayama and asanas as a means to self-knowledge.

Yoga Yajnavalkya

Yoga Yajnavalkya The Yoga Yajnavalkya (योगयाज्ञवल्क्य, Yoga-Yājñavalkya) is a classical Hindu yoga text in the Sanskrit language. The text is written in the form of a male-female dialogue between the sage Yajnavalkya and Gargi. The text consists of 12 chapters and contains 504 verses. Of all works consisting of sacrifices, or rituals, or control of conduct, or harmlessness, or liberality,...

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Yoga Quotes

Yoga Quotes We have collected and put the best Yoga Quotes. Enjoy reading these insights and feel free to share this page on your social media to inspire others. May these Yoga Quotes inspire you to never give up and keep working towards your goals. Who knows—success could be just...

Some pages from a historic Yogasutra manuscript (Sanskrit, Devanagari). The verses are highlighted and are embedded inside the bhasya (commentary).

Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali

Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a collection of 195 Sanskrit sutras (aphorisms) on the theory and practice of yoga. The Yoga Sutra was compiled sometime between 500 BCE and 400 CE by the sage Patanjali in India who synthesized and organized knowledge about yoga from much older traditions. The Yoga Sūtra...

Patanjali's eight limbs of yoga

Ashtanga

Ashtanga (eight limbs of yoga) Ashtanga yoga (aṣṭāṅgayoga, “the eight limbs of yoga”) is Patanjali’s classification of classical yoga, as set out in his Yoga Sutras. He defined the eight limbs as yama (abstinences), niyama (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (absorption). The eight limbs form...

Raja Yoga

Rāja Yoga

Rāja Yoga In Sanskrit texts, Rāja yoga was both the goal of yoga and a method of attaining it. The term also became a modern name for the practice of yoga, when in the 19th-century Swami Vivekananda equated raja yoga with the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Since then, Rāja yoga has variously been called aṣṭāṅga yoga, royal yoga, royal union, sahaja marg, and classical...

serenity yoga

Karma Yoga

Karma Yoga Karma yoga, also called Karma marga, is one of the three spiritual paths in Hinduism, one based on the “yoga of action”. To a karma yogi, right action is a form of prayer. It is one of the paths in the spiritual practices of Hindus, others being Jnana yoga (path of knowledge) and Bhakti yoga...

natural yoga

Jnana Yoga

Jnana Yoga Jnana yoga, also known as Jnanamarga, is one of the several spiritual paths in Hinduism that emphasizes the “path of knowledge”, also known as the “path of self-realization”. It is one of the three classical paths (margas) for moksha (salvation, liberation). The other two are karma yoga (path of action, karmamarga) and bhakti yoga (path of loving devotion to...

The bodhisattva Maitreya and disciples, a central figure in Yogacara origin myth. Gandhara, 3rd century CE.

Yogācāra

Yogachara Yogachara (Yogācāra; literally “yoga practice”; “one whose practice is yoga”) is an influential tradition of Buddhist philosophy and psychology emphasizing the study of cognition, perception, and consciousness through the interior lens of meditative and yogic practices. It is also variously termed Vijñānavāda (the doctrine of consciousness), Vijñaptivāda (the doctrine of ideas or...

What is Yoga?

What Is Yoga?

What Is Yoga? Yoga (“to yoke”) refers to a series of interrelated ancient Hindu spiritual practices that originated in India, where it remains a vibrant living tradition. Yoga is one of the six orthodox systems (darshans) of Indian philosophy. Its influence has been widespread among many other schools of Indian...

Yoga

4 Ways to Take Your Yoga Routine to the Next Level

4 Ways to Take Your Yoga Routine to the Next Level There is nothing quite like the study and practice of yoga to help you get fit, stay centered, and grow as a human being. Yoga has long been one of the top forms of exercise all around the world,...

Women in an outdoor yoga community class, Texas, 2010

Yoga As Exercise

Yoga As Exercise Yoga as exercise is a physical activity consisting mainly of postures (asanas), often connected by flowing sequences called vinyasas, sometimes accompanied by rhythmic breathing (pranayama), and often ending with relaxation (lying down in savasana) or meditation. Yoga in this form has become familiar across the world, especially in America and Europe. Like other...

Yoga

Yoga Philosophy

Yoga Philosophy Yoga philosophy is one of the six major orthodox schools of Hinduism. Ancient, medieval and most modern literature often refers to the Yoga school of Hinduism simply as Yoga. It is closely related to the Samkhya school of Hinduism. The Yoga school’s systematic studies to better oneself physically, mentally and spiritually...