Yoga (Sanskrit: योग, IAST: yóga, IPA: [joːgə])
is an Indian spiritual path aimed at achieving the union with the Supreme
Consciousness. Some yogas go beyond it and aim at the spiritual
transformation of the entire human nature and obtaining immortality even for
the physical body. A practitioner of Yoga is called a Yogi (male) or Yogini
(female). Outside India, yoga is mostly associated with the practice of
asanas (postures) of Hatha Yoga or as a form of exercise.
Many Hindu texts discuss aspects of yoga, including the Vedas, Upanishads,
the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika,
the Shiva Samhita and various Tantras.
Classified by the type of practices, the major branches of yoga include:
Hatha Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Raja Yoga. Raja Yoga,
established by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and known simply as yoga in the
context of Hindu philosophy, is one of the six orthodox (āstika) schools of
The Sanskrit term yoga has many meanings. It is derived from the Sanskrit
root yuj, "to control", "to yoke", or "to unite". Common meanings include
"joining" or "uniting", and related ideas such as "union" and "conjunction".
Another conceptual definition is that of "mode, manner, means" or
"expedient, means in general".
The majority of practitioners of yoga outside
India are primarily interested in improving health and fitness. The ultimate
goals may range from reaching Moksha to physical immortality.
Within the monist schools of Advaita Vedanta and Shaivism this perfection
takes the form of Moksha, which is liberation from all worldly suffering and
the cycle of birth and death (Samsara) at which point there is a realisation
of identity with the Supreme Brahman. For the bhakti schools of Vaishnavism,
bhakti or service to Svayam bhagavan itself is the ultimate goal of the yoga
process, wherein perfection culminates in an eternal relationship with
Vishnu, Rama or Krsna, depending on the affiliation.
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