There are so many people practicing yoga these days. But what exactly is yoga? There are many forms of yoga and countless “styles” of hatha yoga. Here are some definitions that I find useful. I hope you will too.
“Patanjali defines yoga as a multifaceted method of bringing consciousness to a state of stillness.” – Chip Hartranft, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
“The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word yuj meaning to bind, join, attach, and yoke, to direct and concentrate one’s attention on, to use and apply.” – B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga
“It [yoga] means the disciplining of the intellect, the mind, the emotions, the will, which that yoga presupposes; it means a poise of the soul which enables one to look at life in all its aspects evenly.” – Mahadev Desai, The Gita According to Gandhi
“Work alone is your priviledge, never the fruits thereof. Never let the fruits of action be your motive; and never cease to work. Work in the name of the lord, abandoning selfish desires. Be not affected by succes or failure. This equipoise is called yoga.” – Bhagavad Gita
“When the senses are stilled, when the mind is at rest, when the intellect wavers not – then, say the wise, is reached the highest stage. This steady control of the senses and mind has been defined as yoga. Who attains it is free from delusion.” – Kathopanishad
“The meaning of yoga is union, the bringing together of the various polarities within, in order to reach a state of balance and transcend our limited vision.” – Swami Radha, Hatha Yoga The Hidden Language
“Yoga is a way of moving into stillness in order to experience the truth of who you are.” – Erich Schiffmann, The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness
“The Sanskrit word yoga means union, although reunion is perhaps closer to actual usage. Reunion implies a reconnection of factors earlier joined but subsequently separated.” – Raeburn Heimbeck, Ph.D.
“Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory.” – K. Pattabhi Jois
“Whether you are sick or weak, young, old or even very old, you can succeed in yoga if you practice diligently.” – Hatha Yoga Pradipika
“Yoga is a systematic technology to improve the body, understand the mind, and free the spirit.” Timothy McCall, M.D., Yoga As Medicine
“Yoga means acting in such a way that all of our attention is directed toward the activity in which we are currently engaged. Yoga attempts to create a state in which we are always present – really present – in every action, in every moment.” – T.K.V. Desikachar