refers to traditional physical and mental disciplines originating
in India, to the goal achieved by those disciplines, and to
one of the six orthodox (astika) schools of Hindu philosophy.
Major branches of a yoga include Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana
Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Hatha Yoga. Raja Yoga, compiled in the
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and known simply as yoga in the context
of Hindu philosophy, is part of the Samkhya tradition. Many
other Hindu texts discuss aspects of yoga, including the Vedas,
Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the
Shiva Samhita and various Tantras.
Sanskrit word yoga has many meanings, and is derived from the
Sanskrit root yuj, meaning to control, to yoke or to unite.
Translations include joining, uniting, union, conjunction, the
term yoga is typically associated with Hatha Yoga and its asanas
(postures) or as a form of exercise. A practitioner of Yoga
is called a Yogi (unisex term) or Yogini (for female).
is restraining the mind-stuff (Citta) from taking various forms
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.
Eight Limbs are:
Yama (The five "abstentions"): non-violence, non-lying,
non-covetousness, non-sensuality, and non-possessiveness.
Niyama (The five "observances"): purity, contentment,
austerity, study, and surrender to god.
Asana: Literally means "seat", and in Patanjali's
Sutras refers to the seated position used for meditation.
Pranayama ("Lengthening Prana"): Prana, life force,
or vital energy, particularly, the breath, "ayama",
to lengthen or extend. Also interpreted as control of prana.
Pratyahara ("Abstraction"): Withdrawal of the sense
organs from external objects.
Dharana ("Concentration"): Fixing the attention
on a single object.
Dhyana ("Meditation"): Intense contemplation of
the nature of the object of meditation.
Samadhi ("Liberation"): merging consciousness with
the object of meditation.