యోగా (సంస్కృతం: योगः)
అంటే వ్యాయామ సాధనల సమాహారాల ఆధ్యాత్మిక రూపం. ఇది హిందూత్వ అధ్యాత్మిక సాధనలలో ఒక భాగం. మోక్షసాధనలో భాగమైన ధ్యానం అంతఃదృష్టి, పరమానంద ప్రాప్తి లాంటి అధ్యాత్మిక పరమైన సాధనలకు పునాది. దీనిని సాధన చేసే వాళ్ళను యోగులు అంటారు. వీరు సాధారణ సంఘ జీవితానికి దూరంగా మునులు సన్యాసులవలె అడవులలో ఆశ్రమ జీవితం గడుపుతూ సాధన శిక్షణ లాంటివి నిర్వహిస్తుంటారు. ధ్యానయోగం ఆధ్యాత్మిక సాధనకు మానసిక ఆరోగ్యానికి చక్కగా తోడ్పడుతుంది. హఠయోగములో భాగమైన శారీరకమైన ఆసనాలు శరీరారోగ్యానికి తోడ్పడి ఔషధాల వాడకాన్ని తగ్గించి దేహధారుడ్యాన్ని, ముఖ వర్చస్సుని ఇనుమడింప చేస్తుంది. బుద్ధమతం, జైనమతం, సిక్కుమతం మొదలైన ధార్మిక మతాలలోనూ, ఇతర ఆధ్యాత్మిక సాధనలలోను దీని ప్రాధాన్యత కనిపిస్తుంది.
హిందూ ఆధ్యాత్మిక సంప్రదాయంలో భాగమైన యోగాన్ని శాస్త్రీయంగా క్రోడీకరించిన ఆద్యుడు పతంజలి. క్రీస్తు పూర్వము 100వ శకము 500వ శకము మధ్య కాలములో ఈ రచన జరిగినట్లు పరిశోధకులు విశ్వసిస్తున్నారు. ఉపనిషత్తులు, భగవద్గీతలో యోగా ప్రస్తావన ఉంది. పతంజలి వీటిని పతంజలి యోగసూత్రాలు గా క్రోడీకరించాడు. సూత్రము అంటే దారము. దారములో మణులను చేర్చినట్లు యోగశాస్త్రాన్ని పతంజలి ఒకచోట చేర్చాడు. హఠయోగ ప్రదీపిక, శివ సంహిత దానిలో ప్రధాన భాగాలు. అంతర్భాగాలైన కర్మయోగము, జ్ఞానయోగము, రాజయోగము, భక్తియోగము మొదలైనవి హిందూతత్వంలో భాగాలు. వ్యాసముని విరచితమైన భగద్గీతలో యోగాసనాలు పదినెనిమిది భాగాలుగా విభజించి చెప్పబడినవి.
యోగము అంటే ఏమిటి?
"యుజ్" అనగా "కలయిక" అనే సంస్కృత ధాతువు నుండి "యోగ" లేదా "యోగము" అనే పదం ఉత్పన్నమైంది. "యుజ్యతేఏతదితి యోగః", "యుజ్యతే అనేన ఇతి యోగః" వంటి నిర్వచనాల ద్వారా చెప్పబడిన భావము - యోగమనగా ఇంద్రియములను వశపరచుకొని, చిత్తమును ఈశ్వరుబియందు లయం చేయుట. మానవిని మానసిక శక్తులన్నింటిని ఏకమొనర్చి సామాన్య స్థితిని చేకూర్చి భగవన్మయమొనరించుట. ఇలా ఏకాగ్రత సాధించడం వలన జీవావధులను భగ్నం చేసి, పరమార్ధ తత్వమునకు త్రోవచేసుకొని పోవచ్చును. అలా ఆత్మ తనలో నిగూఢంగా ఉన్న నిజ శక్తిని సాధిస్తుంది. ఇలా ఆంతరంగికమైన శిక్షణకు భిన్న మార్గాలున్నాయి. వాటిని వివిధయోగ విధానాలుగా సూత్రకారులు విభజించారు.
"యోగము" అంటే సాధన అనీ, అదృష్టమనీ కూడా అర్థాలున్నాయి. భగవద్గీతలో అధ్యాయాలకు యోగములని పేర్లు.
భారతీయ తత్వ శాస్త్రంలోని ఆరు దర్శనాలలో "యోగ" లేదా "యోగ దర్శనము" ఒకటి. ఈ యోగ దర్శనానికి ప్రామాణికంగా చెప్పబడే పతంజలి యోగసూత్రాల ప్రకారం "యోగం అంటే చిత్త వృత్తి నిరోధం". స్థిరంగా ఉండి సుఖాన్నిచ్చేది ఆసనం. అభ్యాస వైరాగ్యాల వలన చిత్త వృత్తులను నిరోధించడం సాధ్యమవుతుంది. ఇలా సాధించే ప్రక్రియను "పతంజలి అష్టాంగ యోగం' అంటారు. దీనినే రాజయోగం అంటారు (పతంజలి మాత్రం "రాజయోగం" అనే పదాన్ని వాడలేదు) .
పతంజలి యోగసూత్రాలు నాలుగు అధ్యాయాల సంకలనము. సమాధి పద, సాధన పద, విభూతి పద, కైవల్య పద అనే నాలుగు అధ్యాయాలు. ఇవి మానసిక శుద్ధికి కావలసిన యోగాలు. శరీర ధారుఢ్యానికి, ఆరోగ్య సంరక్షణకి, రోగనిరోధకానికి సహాయపడే శారీరక ఆసనాలను అష్టాంగయోగము వివరిస్తుంది.
సమాధిపద ఏకాగ్రతతో చిత్తవృత్తులను నిరోధించి ప్రమానంద స్తితిని సాధించడము దీనిలో వివరించబడింది.
సాధనపద కర్మయోగాన్ని, రాజయోగాన్నిసాధన చెయ్యడము ఎలాగో దీనిలో వివరించబడినది. ఎనిమిది అవయవాలను స్వాధీనపరచుకోవడం ఎలా అని రాజయోగములో వివరించబడింది.
విభూతియోగము జాగరూకత, యోగ సాధనలో నిపుణత సాధించడమెలాగో దీనిలో వివరించబడినది.
కైవల్యపద మోక్షసాధన ఎలా పొందాలో దీనిలో వివరించబడింది. ఇది యోగశాస్త్రము యొక్క ఆఖరి గమ్యము.
అహింస హింసను విడనాడటము.
సత్యము సత్యము మాత్రమే పలకటము.
అస్తేయ దొంగ బుద్ది లేకుండా ఉండటము
బ్రహ్మచర్యము స్త్రీ సాంగత్యానికి దూరముగా ఉండటము.
అపరిగ్రహ వేటినీ స్వీకరించకుండా ఉండటము.
సంతోష ఆనందంగా ఉండటము.
ఈశ్వరప్రాణిదాన ఈశ్వర శరణాగతి.
ఇవి అష్టాంగపదయోగములోని భాగములు.
ఈశ్వరుడు తపస్సు చేస్తున్నప్పుడు పద్మాసనంలో ధ్యానయోగంలో ఉన్నట్లు పురాణాలలో వర్ణించబడి ఉంది. లక్ష్మీదేవి ఎప్పుడు పద్మాసినియే, మహా విష్ణువు నిద్రను యోగనిద్రగా వర్ణించబడినది. తాపసులు తమ తపసును పద్మాసనంలో అనేకంగా చేసినట్లు పురాణ వర్ణన. ఇంకా లెక్కకు మిక్కిలి ఉదాహరణలు హిందూ సంప్రదాయంలో చోటు చేసుకున్నాయి. బుద్ధ సంప్రదాయంలో, జైన సంప్రదాయంలోను, సన్యాస శిక్షణలోను యోగా ప్రధాన పాత్ర పోషిస్తుంది. సింధు నాగరికత కుడ్య చిత్రాల ఆధారంగా యోగా వారి నాగరికతలో భాగంగా విశ్వసిస్తున్నారు.
భగవద్గీతలో ఒక్కొక్క అధ్యాయానికి "యోగము" అనే పేరు ఉంది. ఇక్కడ "యోగం" అనే పదం సామాన్య యోగాభ్యాసం కంటే విస్తృతమైన అర్ధంలో, జ్ఞాన బోధ లేదా మార్గం అనే సూచకంగా వాడబడింది.
అర్జునవిషాద యోగము: యుద్ధ భూమిలో తాతలు తండ్రులు, సోదరులు, గురువులు,మేనమామలు మొదలైన ఆప్తులను శత్రు సేనలో చూసిన అర్జునుడు వారిని వధించవలసి వచ్చినందుకు అర్జుని కమ్ముకున్న విషాదము గురించిన వర్ణన.
సాంఖ్య యోగము:- ఆత్మ స్వరూపము గుణగణాల వర్ణన.
కర్మ యోగము:- కర్మ చేయడంలో నేర్పు,దానిని యోగములా మార్చుకోవడం ఎలా అని చెప్పే యోగము.
జ్ఞాన యోగము:- నర,నారాయణూల జన్మలు,భగవంతుని జన్మలోని శ్రేష్టమైన గుణాలు.జ్ఞాన సముపార్జన మార్గాల వివరణ.
కర్మసన్యాస యోగము:- కర్మలను ఫలితాలను సన్యసించి భగవంతునికి అర్పించి ఆయన ఇచ్చిన దానిని ప్రసాదంగా స్వీకరించడం ఎలా అన్న వివరణ.
ఆత్మసంయమ యోగము:- ధ్యానము,ఏకాగ్రతల ద్వారా మనోనిగ్రహము సాధించడము,ఆహారనియమాలు,సాధనా ప్రదేశము ఏర్పాటు వర్ణన.యోగి గుణగాణాల వర్ణన,భగవంతుని సర్వవ్యాఇత్వము,యోగభ్రష్టత ఫలితాల వర్ణన.
జ్ఞానవిజ్ఞాన యోగము:- భగవంతుని,ఉనికి,గుణగనాలు,ప్రకృతి,మాయని జయించడము.మోక్షగామి గుణగణాల వర్ణన.
అక్షరపరబ్రహ్మ యోగము:- బ్రహ్మతత్వము,ఆధ్యాతకత,కర్మతత్వము,ఆది దైవతము,ఆది భూతముల వర్ణన.జీవుని జన్మలు,జీవ ఆవిర్భావము,అంతము,పుణ్యలోక ప్రాప్తి,అత్యకాలములో భగవన్నామస్మరణ ఫలం.
రాజవిద్యారాజగుహ్య యోగము:- మోక్ష ప్రాప్తి వివరణ.భగవతత్వము,స్వర్గలోకప్రాప్తి,దేవతారాధనా వాటిఫలము,భక్తుల గుణగణాల వర్ణన.
విభూతి యోగము:-భగవంతుని చేరే మార్గము.భగవంతుని విశ్వ వ్యాపికత్వము వర్ణన.
విశ్వరూపసందర్శన యోగము:- విశ్వరూపము గురించిన విస్తారమైన వర్ణన.
భక్తి యోగము:- భక్తి యోగ వర్ణన.భగవంతుని ప్రియము పొందలిగిన భక్తుని గుణగణాల వర్ణన.
క్షేత్రక్షేత్రజ్ఞవిభాగ యోగము:- ప్రకృతి పురుషులు,క్షేత్రము క్షేత్రజ్ఞుల గురించిన జ్ఞానము తెలిపేది.
గుణత్రయవిభాగ యోగము:- సత్వగుణము,రజోగుణము,తామసగుణము వివరణ,వారి ఆహారవ్యవహారాల వర్ణన.
పురుషోత్తమప్రాప్తి యోగము:- భగవంతుని స్వరూపము తత్వము పురుషోత్తముని చేరే మార్గము వివరణ.
దైవాసురసంపద్విభాగ యోగము:- దైవీగుణసంపద,అసురీగుణసంపద కవారి ప్రవృత్తి,ప్రవర్తన ఆలోచనాదుల వర్ణన.
శ్రద్దాత్రయవిభాగ యోగము:- సత్వ,రాజసిక,తామసికములనబడే మూడు విధములుగా గుర్తించిన శ్రద్ధలను గురించిన వివరణ.
మోక్షసన్యాస యోగము:- మోక్ష ప్రాప్తికి కావలసిన జ్ఞానము,సన్యాసము గురించిన వర్ణన.
వ్యాప్తి ఆదరణ ప్రయోజనమ
ఇతర వ్యాయామాకంటే భిన్నమైన యోగాభ్యాసము దానిలో నిబిడీకృతంగా ఉన్నఆద్ధ్యాత్మిక భావం కారణంగా దేశవిదేశాలలో విశేషప్రాచుర్యాన్ని సంతరించుకున్నది. ముఖ్యముగా పాశ్చాత్యదేశాల యోగా ప్రాచుర్యము, ఆదరణ అమోఘమైనది. పాశ్చాత్య దేశీయులకు యోగా మీద ఉన్న విశేషమైన మక్కువ, ఆకర్షణ లోక విదితం. బుద్ధ ఆరామలాలో ఇచ్చేశిక్షణలో యోగా కూడా ఒక భాగమే. వారి వేషధారణ క్రమశిక్షణ ప్రపంచ ప్రాముఖ్యత ఆకర్షణ సంతరించుకున్నది. భారతీయ సంప్రదాయిక యోగశిక్షణా తరగతులను అనేక దేశాలలో నిర్వహిస్తున్నారు. ఇతర వ్యాయాయములు శరీరదారుఢ్యాన్ని మాత్రమే మెరుగు పరచడములోదృష్టిని సారిస్తాయి. యోగాభ్యాసము ధ్యానం, ప్రాణాయామం లాంటి ప్రక్రియలు మానసిక ఏకాగ్రత వలన మానసిక ప్రశాంతతను కలిగించి మానసిక ఆరోగ్యానికి కూడా దోహద పడుతుంది. మానసిక వత్తిడులు, హృద్రోగము, రక్తపోటు లాంటి వ్యాధుల తీవ్రత తగ్గించటానికి తోడ్పడుతుందని పలువురి విశ్వాసం. సనాతన సంప్రదాయమైన యోగా అధునిక కాలంలో కూడా అనేకమంది అధునికుల అభిమానాన్ని చూరగొన్నది.
బౌద్ధ సంప్రదాయంలో యోగా
4వ 5వ శతాబ్దంలో బుద్ధ సంప్రదాయిక పాఠశాల యోగాచార తత్వము,భౌతికము భోదించబడినవి. జెన్(చెన్)మహాయాన బుద్ధిజమ్ పాఠశాలలలో చెన్ అంటే సంస్కృత ధ్యాన రూపాంతరమని భావిస్తున్నారు. ఈ పాఠశాలలను యోగా పాఠశాలలుగానే పాశ్చాత్యులు గుర్తిస్తున్నారు.
టిబెట్ బుద్ధిజమ్ యోగాను కేంద్రీకృతము చేసుకొని ఉంది.నిగమ సంప్రదాయంలో సాధకులు మహాయోగముతో ప్రారంభించి,అను యోగము నుండి అతి యోగము వరకు యోగశాస్త్ర లోతులను చూడటనికి ప్రయత్నిస్తారు. షర్మ సంప్రదాయాంలో అనుత్తర యోగము తప్పనిసరి.తాంత్రిక సాధకులు త్రుల్ కోల్ లేక ప్రజ్ఞోపాసన సుర్య,చంద్రులను ఉపాసించినట్లు దలైలామా వేసవి దేవాలయ కుడ్య చిత్రాలు చెప్తున్నాయి.
తాంత్రిక శాస్త్రంలో యోగము
తాంత్రికులు మాయను ఛేదించి భగవంతునిలో ఐక్యము(మోక్షము) కావడానికి షట్చక్రోపాసన చేస్తారు.దీనికి ధ్యానయోగము అధారము.దీనిని కుండలినీ ఉపాసన అంటారు.మార్గము ఏదైనా యోగశాస్త్ర లక్ష్యము మోక్షము.
మలేసియాలో ముస్లిములు మంత్రాలతోకూడిన యోగా ఇస్లాం సిద్ధాంతాలకు వ్యతిరేకమన్న ఉద్దేశంతో ఫత్వా కౌన్సిల్ నిషేధించింది.ప్రధాని అబ్దుల్లా బడావీ మంత్రాలు పఠించకుండా యోగాభ్యాసం చేసుకోవచ్చని అక్కడి ముస్లింలకు కొన్నిమినహాయింపులు ప్రకటించారు.ప్రార్థనలు లేకుండా శారీరక ప్రక్రియ మాత్రమే చేసేటట్లయితే ఇబ్బంది లేదు. ముస్లింలు బహుదేవతారాధనకు అంత సులభంగా మొగ్గుచూపరని నాకు తెలుసు అని ఆయన అన్నారు.
హిందూమంత్రాలకు బదులు క్రైస్తవులు జీసస్ మేరీ ల స్తోత్రపాఠాలతో కూడిన ధ్యానంతో యోగసాధన చేస్తున్నారు.
This article is about the umbrella term yoga which includes religion, philosophy, and practices. For one of the six Hindu philosophy schools, see Rāja yoga. For the popular yoga that explains and emphasizes the physical practices or disciplines, see Hatha Yoga.
For other uses, see Yoga (disambiguation).
This article contains Indic text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks or boxes, misplaced vowels or missing conjuncts instead of Indic text.
Yoga (/ˈjoʊɡə/; Sanskrit: योग, Listen) are physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines that aim to transform body and mind. The term denotes a variety of schools, practices and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism (including Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhism) and Jainism, the best-known being Hatha yoga and Raja yoga. The term yoga is derived from the literal meaning of "yoking together" a span of horses or oxen, but came to be applied to the "yoking" of mind and body.
The origins of Yoga have been speculated to date back to pre-vedic Indian traditions, but most likely developed around the sixth and fifth centuries BCE, in the same ascetic circles as the early sramana movements.[note 1] The earliest accounts of yoga-practices are in the Buddhist Nikayas. Parallel developments were recorded around 400 CE in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which combines pre–philosophical 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.
Yoga gurus from India later introduced yoga to the west, following the success of Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th and early 20th century. 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.
Yoga physiology described humans as existing of three bodies (physical, subtle and causal) and five sheets (food sheet, prana-breath, mind sheet, intellect, and bliss) which cover the atman, 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.
Statue of Shiva in Bangalore, India, performing yogic meditation in the Padmasana 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 "to harness" 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.
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, guṇá-yoga means "contact with a cord"; chakrá-yoga has a medical sense of "applying a splint or similar instrument by means of pulleys (in case of dislocation of the thigh)"; chandrá-yoga has the astronomical sense of "conjunction of the moon with a constellation"; puṃ-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 kriyā-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
According to Pāṇini, a 6th-century BCE Sanskrit grammarian, the term yoga can be derived from either of two roots, yujir yoga (to yoke) or yuj samādhau (to concentrate). In the context of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the root yuj samādhau (to concentrate) is considered by traditional commentators as the correct etymology. In accordance with Pāṇini, Vyasa who wrote the first commentary on the Yoga Sutras, states that yoga means samādhi (concentration). In other texts and contexts, such as the Bhagavad Gītā and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the word yoga has been used in conformity with yujir yoge (to yoke).
According to Dasgupta, the term yoga can be derived from either of two roots, yujir yoga (to yoke) or yuj samādhau (to concentrate). 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).
Goal of Yoga
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:
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 (darśana);
Yoga in connection with other words, such as "hatha-, mantra-, and laya-," referring to traditions specialising in particular techniques of yoga;
Yoga as the goal of Yoga practice."
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:
Yoga as an analysis of perception and cognition;
Yoga as the rising and expansion of consciousness;
Yoga as a path to omniscience;
Yoga as a technique for entering into other bodies, generating multiple bodies, and the attainment of other supernatural accomplishments;
Schools of Yoga
The term "yoga" has been applied to a variety of practices and methods. The well-known Hindu schools of Yoga being Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Laya Yoga and Hatha Yoga, but also including Jain and Buddhist practices. Yoga Sutras of Pantajali, constitute classical Ashtanga Yoga (the eight limbs), also called Raja Yoga.
Main articles: Buddhist meditation, Dhyāna 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 2] The closest words for meditation in the classical languages of Buddhism are bhāvanā[note 3] and jhāna/dhyāna.[note 4] Buddhist meditation techniques have become increasingly popular in the wider world, with many non-Buddhists taking them up for a variety of reasons.
Main articles: Rāja yoga and Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are often labelled as Rāja yoga. It defines yoga as citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ (the cessation of the perturbations of the mind). 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). In Hinduism, Raja yoga is considered as one of the six āstika schools (those which accept the authority of the Vedas) of Hindu philosophy. 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. The earliest documented use of the word "Tantra" is in the Rigveda (X.71.9). Tantra has influenced the Hindu, Bon, Buddhist, and Jain traditions and Silk Road transmission of Buddhism that spread Buddhism to East and Southeast Asia.
Main article: Hatha yoga
Hatha yoga, also called hatha vidyā (हठविद्या), is a kind of yoga focusing on physical and mental strength building exercises and postures described primarily in three texts of Hinduism:
Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Svātmārāma (15th century)
Shiva Samhita, author unknown (1500 C.E  or late 17th century)
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. Gorakshanath is widely considered to have been responsible for popularizing hatha yoga as we know it today.
Vajrayana Buddhism, founded by the Indian Mahasiddhas, has a series of asanas and pranayamas, such as tummo (Sanskrit caṇḍālī) and trul khor which parallel hatha yoga.
Main articles: Shaivism, Shaiva Siddhanta and Nath
In Shaivism, yoga is used to unite kundalini with Shiva. Mahabharata defines the purpose of yoga as the experience of uniting the individual ātman with the universal Brahman that pervades all things.
Main article: Jain meditation
Mahavira, 24th Tirthankara
Jain meditation has been the central practice of spirituality in Jainism along with the Three Jewels. Meditation in Jainism aims at realizing the self, attain salvation, take the soul to complete freedom. 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 and Shukla Dhyana and inauspicious Artta and Raudra Dhyana.
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.
While the practice of yoga continues to rise in contemporary American culture, sufficient and adequate knowledge of the practice’s origins does not. According to Andrea R. Jain, Yoga is undoubtedly a Hindu movement for spiritual meditation, yet is now being marketed as a supplement to a cardio routine. This scope “dilutes its Hindu identity.” Contemporaries of the Hindu faith argue that the more popular yoga gets, the less concerned people become about its origins in history. These same contemporaries do state that while anyone can practice yoga, only those who give Hinduism due credit for the practice will achieve the full benefit of the custom.
The origins of yoga are a matter of debate. Suggested origins are the Indus Valley Civilisation (2600-1900 BCE) and pre-Vedic north-eastern India, the Vedic civilisation (1500-500 BCE), and the sramana-movement (starting ca. 500 BCE). According to Gavin Flood, continuities may exist between those various traditions:
[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.[note 5]
Pre-philosophical speculations of yoga begin to emerge in the texts of c. 500–200 BCE. Between 200 BCE–500 CE philosophical schools of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism were taking form and a coherent philosophical system of yoga began to emerge. 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)
Yoga may have pre-Vedic elements.
Indus Valley Civilisation (before 1900 BCE)
Some argue that yoga originates in the Indus Valley Civilization. Marshall argued in the 1920s that Several seals discovered at Indus Valley Civilization sites depict figures in positions resembling a common yoga or meditation pose. This interpretation is rejected by more recent interpretations.
North-eastern India (before 500 BCE)
According to Zimmer, Yoga is part of the pre-Vedic heritage, which also includes Jainism, Samkhya and Buddhism:
[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."[note 6]
Vedic civilisation (1500-500 BCE)
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",[note 7] just like traditional Hinduism regards the Vedas to be the source of all spiritual knowledge.[note 8]
Ascetic practices, concentration and bodily postures used by Vedas priests to conduct Vedic ritual of fire sacrifice may have been precursors to yoga.
Sramana movement (from 500 BCE)
According to Geoffrey 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.
Vedic period (1500-500 BCE)
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. Yoga is discussed quite frequently in the Upanishads, many of which predate Patanjali's Sutras. The actual term "yoga" first occurs in the Katha Upanishad and later in the Shvetasvatara Upanishad. 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 constituents—the senses, mind, intellect, etc.—that comprise the foundational categories of Sāmkhya philosophy, whose metaphysical system grounds the yoga of the YS, Bhg, and other texts and schools (Ku3.10–11; 6.7–8).
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
show that "at least the seed of the entire Yoga teaching is contained in this most ancient Aryan text".
An early reference to meditation is made in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the earliest Upanishad (c. 900 BCE).[note 9] 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."
Vedic ascetic practices
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 10] Vratya, a group of ascetics mentioned in the Atharvaveda, emphasized on bodily postures which probably evolved into yogic asanas. Early Vedic Samhitas also contain references to other group ascetics such as, Munis, the Keśin, and Vratyas. Techniques for controlling breath and vital energies are mentioned in the Brahmanas (ritualistic texts of the Vedic corpus, c. 1000–800 BCE) and the Atharvaveda. Nasadiya Sukta of the Rig Veda suggests the presence of an early contemplative tradition.[note 11]
The Vedic Samhitas contain references to ascetics, and ascetic practices known as (tapas) are referenced in the Brāhmaṇas (900 BCE and 500 BCE), early commentaries on the Vedas. The Rigveda, the earliest of the Hindu texts mentions the practice. 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.[unreliable source?]
According to Feuerstein, breath control and curbing the mind was practiced since the Vedic times., and yoga was fundamental to Vedic ritual, especially to chanting the sacred hymns
Preclassical era (500-200 BCE)
Diffused pre-philosophical speculations of yoga begin to emerge in the texts of c. 500–200 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.
Early Buddhist texts
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."
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.
Most of the other contemporary yoga systems alluded in the Upanishads and some Pali canons are lost to time.[note 12]
The early Buddhist texts describe meditative practices and states, some of which the Buddha borrowed from the śramana tradition. One key innovative teaching of the Buddha was that meditative absorption must be combined with liberating cognition. 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. The Buddha also departed from earlier yogic thought in discarding the early Brahminic notion of liberation at death. 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.
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. However there is no mention of the tongue being inserted into the nasopharynx as in true khecarī mudrā. The Buddha used a posture where pressure is put on the perineum with the heel, similar to even modern postures used to stimulate Kundalini.
Alexander Wynne, author of The Origin of Buddhist Meditation, observes that formless meditation and elemental meditation might have originated in the Upanishadic tradition. The earliest reference to meditation is in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, one of the oldest Upanishads. 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. Taittiriya Upanishad defines yoga as the mastery of body and senses.
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.[note 13] 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 Ātman. Yoga is therefore seen as a process of interiorization or ascent of consciousness. 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. 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. Maitrayaniya Upanishad (c. 300 BCE) formalizes the sixfold form of yoga. Physiological theories of later yoga make an appearance in this text.
While breath channels (nāḍis) of yogic practices had already been discussed in the classical Upanishads, it was not until the eighth-century Buddhist Hevajra Tantra and Caryāgiti, that hierarchies of chakras were introduced. Further systematization of yoga is continued in the Yoga Upanishads of the Atharvaveda (viz., Śāṇḍilya, Pāśupata, Mahāvākya)[clarification needed].
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, it introduces three prominent types of yoga:[note 14]
Karma yoga: The yoga of action.[note 15]
Bhakti yoga: The yoga of devotion.[note 16]
Jnana yoga: The yoga of knowledge.[note 17]
In Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna explains to Arjuna about the essence of yoga as practiced in daily lives:
योगस्थ: कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा धनंजय ।
सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्यो: समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते ।।
(yoga-sthaḥ kuru karmani sanyugam tyaktvā dhananjay
siddhy-asiddhyoḥ samo bhutvā samatvam yoga ucyate)
- Bhagavad Gita 2.48
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada translates it as "Be steadfast in yoga (yoga-sthaḥ), O Arjuna. Perform your duty (kuru karmani) and abandon all attachment (sangam) to success or failure (siddhy-asiddhyoḥ). Such evenness of mind (samatvam) is called yoga."
Madhusūdana Sarasvatī (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). Other commentators ascribe a different 'yoga' to each chapter, delineating eighteen different yogas. 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".
Description of an early form of yoga called nirodha–yoga (yoga of cessation) is contained in the Mokshadharma section of the 12th chapter (Shanti Parva) of the Mahabharata epic. The verses of the section are dated to c. 300–200 BCE. Nirodha–yoga 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. 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. Mokshadharma also describes an early practice of elemental meditation.
Classical era (200 BCE – 500 CE)
Main article: Rāja yoga
During the period between the Mauryan and the Gupta era (c. 200 BCE–500 CE) philosophical schools of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism were taking form and a coherent philosophical system of yoga began to emerge.
Further information: Samkhya
Samkhya emerged in the first century CE. 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. 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 as Seshvara Samkhya in contradistinction to Kapila's Nirivara Samkhya.
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
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
Pada (Chapter) English meaning Sutras
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. 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 18] Scholars also note the influence of Buddhist and Samkhyan ideas on the Yoga Sutras. Patanjali's Yoga Sutras reminds us of Buddhist formulations from the Pāli Canon, Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma and Sautrāntika. 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. The parallels between yoga and samkhya were so close that Max Müller says that "the two philosophies were in popular parlance distinguished from each other as Samkhya with and Samkhya without a Lord...." 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. Sāṅkhya provides a basic theoretical exposition of human nature, enumerating and defining its elements, analyzing their manner of co-operation in a state of bondage ("bandha"), and describing their state of disentanglement or separation in release ("mokṣa"), while yoga treats specifically of the dynamics of the process for the disentanglement, and outlines practical techniques for the gaining of release, or "isolation-integration" ("kaivalya").
Patanjali is widely regarded as the compiler of the formal yoga philosophy. The verses of Yoga Sutras are terse and are therefore read together with the Vyasa Bhashya (c. 350–450 CE), a commentary on the Yoga Sutras. Patanjali's yoga is known as Raja yoga, which is a system for control of the mind. Patanjali defines the word "yoga" in his second sutra, which is the definitional sutra for his entire work:
योग: चित्त-वृत्ति निरोध:
- 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 (nirodhaḥ) of the modifications (vṛtti) of the mind (citta)". The use of the word nirodhaḥ 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. Swami Vivekananda translates the sutra as "Yoga is restraining the mind-stuff (Citta) from taking various forms (Vrittis)."
A sculpture of a Hindu yogi in 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:
Yama (The five "abstentions"): Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (Truth, non-lying), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (non-sensuality, celibacy), and Aparigraha (non-possessiveness).
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).
Asana: Literally means "seat", and in Patanjali's Sutras refers to the seated position used for meditation.
Pranayama ("Suspending Breath"): Prāna, breath, "āyāma", to restrain or stop. Also interpreted as control of the life force.
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.
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 persons.
Main article: Yoga Yajnavalkya
संयोगो योग इत्युक्तो जीवात्मपरमात्मनोः॥
saṁyogo yoga ityukto jīvātma-paramātmanoḥ॥
Union of the self (jivātma) with the Divine (paramātma) is said to be yoga.
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. The text contains 12 chapters and its origin has been traced to the period between the second century BCE and fourth century CE. 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. In the Yoga Yajnavalkya, yoga is defined as jivatmaparamatmasamyogah, or the union between the individual self (jivatma) and the Divine (paramatma).
Main article: Jainism
Tirthankara Parsva in Yogic meditation in the Kayotsarga posture.
According to Tattvarthasutra, 2nd century CE Jain text, yoga is the sum of all the activities of mind, speech and body. Umasvati calls yoga the cause of "asrava" or karmic influx as well as one of the essentials—samyak caritra—in the path to liberation. In his Niyamasara, Acarya Kundakunda, describes yoga bhakti—devotion to the path to liberation—as the highest form of devotion. 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. 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.[note 19]
Mainstream Hinduism's influence on Jain yoga is noticed as Haribhadra founded his eightfold yoga and aligned it with Patanjali's eightfold yoga.
Main article: Yogacara
In the late phase of Indian antiquity, on the eve of the development of Classical Hinduism, the Yogacara movement arises during the Gupta 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. The yogacara sect teaches "yoga" as a way to reach enlightenment.
Middle Ages (500–1500 CE)
Middle Ages saw the development of many satellite traditions of yoga. Hatha yoga emerged as a dominant practice of yoga in this period.
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. Shaiva and Vaishnava bhakti traditions integrated aspects of Yoga Sutras, such as the practical meditative exercises, with devotion. Bhagavata Purana elucidates the practice of a form of yoga called viraha (separation) bhakti. Viraha bhakti emphasizes one pointed concentration on Krishna.
By the turn of the first millennium, hatha yoga emerged from tantra.
Tantrism is a practice that is supposed to alter the relation of its practitioners to the ordinary social, religious, and logical reality in which they live. Through Tantric practice, an individual perceives reality as maya, illusion, and the individual achieves liberation from it. 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. This particular path to salvation among the several offered by Hinduism, links Tantrism to those practices of Indian religions, such as yoga, meditation, and social renunciation, which are based on temporary or permanent withdrawal from social relationships and modes.
During tantric practices and studies, the student is instructed further in meditation technique, particularly chakra meditation. This is often in a limited form in comparison with the way this kind of meditation is known and used by Tantric practitioners and yogis elsewhere, but is more elaborate than the initiate's previous meditation. It is considered to be a kind of Kundalini yoga for the purpose of moving the Goddess into the chakra located in the "heart", for meditation and worship.
Main article: Vajrayana
While breath channels (nāḍis) of yogic practices had already been discussed in the classical Upanishads, it was not until the eighth-century Buddhist Hevajra Tantra and Caryāgiti, that hierarchies of chakras were introduced.
Main articles: Hatha yoga and Hatha Yoga Pradipika
The earliest references to hatha yoga are in Buddhist works dating from the eighth century. 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. The basic tenets of Hatha yoga were formulated by Shaiva ascetics Matsyendranath and Gorakshanath c. 900 CE. Hatha yoga synthesizes elements of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras with posture and breathing exercises. Hatha yoga, sometimes referred to as the "psychophysical yoga", 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). Compared to the seated asana, or sitting meditation posture, of Patanjali's Raja yoga, it marks the development of asanas (plural) into the full body 'postures' now in popular usage and, along with its many modern variations, is the style that many people associate with the word yoga today.
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.
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. Guru Nanak rejected the austerities, rites and rituals connected with Hatha Yoga. He propounded the path of Sahaja yoga or Nama yoga (meditation on the name) instead. 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."
Reception in the West
An early illustration of Indians performing Yoga asans 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. 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 brothers August Wilhelm Schlegel (1767-1845) and Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel (1772-1829), Max Mueller (1823-1900), A. Schopenhauer (1788-1860) and others who had (to varying degrees) interests in things Indian.
Theosophists also had a large influence on the American public's view of Yoga. 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. The reception of Yoga and of Vedanta thus entwined with each other and with the (mostly Neoplatonism-based) 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, 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 20] 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 itself.
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. Western medical researchers came to Swami Kuvalayananda’s Kaivalyadhama Health and Yoga Research Center, starting in 1928, to study Yoga as a science.
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. 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. In the 1950s the United States saw another period of paranoia against yoga, but by the 1960s, western interest in Hindu spirituality reached its peak, giving rise to a great number of Neo-Hindu schools specifically advocated to a western public. During this period, most of the influential Indian teachers of yoga came from two lineages, those of Sivananda Saraswati (1887–1963) and of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888–1989). Teachers of Hatha yoga who were active in the west in this period included B.K.S. Iyengar (1918-2014), K. Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009), Swami Vishnu-devananda (1927-1993), and Swami Satchidananda (1914-2002). Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini Yoga to the United States in 1969. Comprehensive, classical teachings of Ashtanga Yoga, Samkhya, the subtle body theory, Fitness Asanas, and tantric elements were included in the yoga teachers training by Baba Hari Dass (1923-), in the United States and Canada.
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. Numerous asanas seemed modern in origin, and strongly overlapped with 19th and early-20th century Western exercise traditions.
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.
As of 2013 some schools in the United States oppose the practice of yoga inside educational facilities, saying it promotes Hinduism in violation of the Establishment Clause.
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.
Main article: Yoga as exercise or alternative medicine
Potential benefits for adults
While much of the medical community regards the results of yoga research as significant, others point to many flaws which undermine results. Much of the research on yoga has taken 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. Long-term yoga users in the United States have reported musculoskeletal and mental health improvements, as well as reduced symptoms of asthma in asthmatics. There is evidence to suggest that regular yoga practice increases brain GABA levels, and yoga has been shown to improve mood and anxiety more than some other metabolically-matched exercises, such as walking. 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. 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. Other smaller studies support this finding. 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. A research group from Boston University School of Medicine also tested yoga's 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 the use of pain medication.
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 to increase anxiety control. 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.
Yoga has also been studied as a treatment for schizophrenia. 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.
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.
Yoga has been shown in a study to have some cognitive functioning (executive functioning, including inhibitory control) acute benefit.
See also: Sports injury
Since a small percentage of yoga practitioners each year suffer physical injuries analogous to sports injuries; caution and common sense are recommended. 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," etc. An exposé of these problems by William Broad published in January, 2012 in The New York Times Magazine 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, had suffered a back injury while performing a yoga posture. Torn muscles, knee injuries, and headaches are common ailments which may result from yoga practice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Acetabular labral tears, damage to the structure joining the femur and the hip, have been reported to have resulted from yoga practice.
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.
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 of three 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. They are often integrated:
Sthula sarira, the Gross body, comprising the Annamaya Kosha
Suksma sarira, the Subtle body, composed of;
the Pranamaya Kosha (Vital breath or Energy),
Manomaya Kosha (Mind)
the Vijnanamaya Kosha (Intellect)
Karana sarira, the Causal body, comprising the Anandamaya Kosha (Bliss)
Within the subtle body energy flows through the nadis or channels, and is concentrated within the chakras.
Yoga compared with other systems of meditation
Zen, the name of which derives from the Sanskrit "dhyaana" via the Chinese "ch'an"[note 21] is a form of Mahayana Buddhism. The Mahayana school of Buddhism is noted for its proximity with yoga. In the west, Zen is often set alongside yoga; the two schools of meditation display obvious family resemblances. This phenomenon merits special attention since yogic practices have some of their roots manifested in the Zen Buddhist school.[note 22] Certain essential elements of yoga are important both for Buddhism in general and for Zen in particular.
In the Nyingma tradition, the path of meditation practice is divided into nine yanas, or vehicles, which are said to be increasingly profound. The last six are described as "yoga yanas": "Kriya yoga", "Upa yoga," "Yoga yana," "Mahā yoga," "Anu yoga" and the ultimate practice, "Ati yoga." The Sarma traditions also include Kriya, Upa (called "Charya"), and Yoga, with the Anuttara yoga class substituting for Mahayoga and Atiyoga.
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. 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 caṇḍalī (Tib. "tummo"), the generation of heat in one's own body, as being "the very foundation of the whole of Tibetan yoga." Chang also claims that Tibetan yoga involves reconciliation of apparent polarities, such as prana and mind, relating this to theoretical implications of tantrism.
Main articles: Christian meditation, A Christian reflection on the New Age and Aspects of Christian meditation
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. 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), 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.../...». 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.
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. 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. The letter also says, "one can see if and how [prayer] might be enriched by meditation methods developed in other religions and cultures" but maintains the idea that "there must be some fit between the nature of [other approaches to] prayer and Christian beliefs about ultimate reality." Some fundamentalist Christian organizations consider yoga to be incompatible with their religious background, considering it a part of the New Age movement inconsistent with Christianity.
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." 
The development of Sufism was considerably influenced by Indian yogic practises, where they adapted both physical postures (asanas) and breath control (pranayama). 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.
Yoga is a growing industry in Islamic countries (Two Bikram Yoga studios in Iran). Also, yoga is used in regions like Palestine to help the population manage stress. This article is a comparative study of yoga and Islam, showing their similarities.
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." Sisters in Islam, a women's rights group in Malaysia, also expressed disappointment and said that its members would continue with their yoga classes.
The fatwa states that yoga practiced only as physical exercise is permissible, but prohibits the chanting of religious mantras, and states that teachings such as the uniting of a human with God is not consistent with Islamic philosophy. In a similar vein, the Council of Ulemas, an Islamic body in Indonesia, passed a fatwa banning yoga on the grounds that it contains "Hindu elements" These fatwas have, in turn, been criticized by Darul Uloom Deoband, a Deobandi Islamic seminary in India.
In May 2009, Turkey's head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs, Ali Bardakoğlu, 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.
As of May 2014, according to Iran’s Yoga Association, Islamic Republic of 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.