While popular yoga is now mostly understood in terms of health and fitness, Yoga really states that it is possible to unite with the original ground of Beingness we call God. Yoga means to yoke, join, or unite with that field of Origin which we have termed God. Yoke (English) and Joch (German) are both directly derived from Yuga or Yoga (Sanskrit). Yoga does not claim to be a religion nor does it offer to be a better tool than religion. Properly understood, religion itself is a form of yoga and it also means to tie back or unite.

Some rare individuals are still looking at Yoga as something strange and even unholy. However, many claims, including the health benefits and improvements in intuition and one's power of concentration, are now supported by various scientific studies. If you are interested in Scientific Research into the many benefits of Yoga, you may want to check out the page Meditation and Brain Function.

Yoga is part of the six original systems of Hindu philosophy: Hatha, Raja, Bhakti, Jnana, Kriya, Karma. Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, the first authoritative compilation of yogic knowledge, teaches Ashtanga Yoga (The Eight-Fold Path), known today as Hatha Yoga (physical preparation) leading to Raja Yoga (spiritual). The Bhagavad Gita mentions three major Yoga systems: Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga. Both the Yoga Sutra and Bhagavad Gita also mention Kriya Yoga, assuring its place among the great Yoga systems.

One should not forget to mention that there are a number of equally important sub-systems like Mantra Yoga, Laya Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Siddha Yoga, Tantra Yoga, Integral Yoga, etc. For further definitions of various yoga styles and traditions, see: Glossary of Yoga Styles

Religious conduct may also be expressed in terms of yoga. For example:
·  The religious requirement to love God could be called bhakti yoga.
·  Any selfless work for our fellow neighbor would be karma yoga.
·  A profound understanding of religious scripture culminates in the wisdom of jnana yoga.
·  Following the commandments finds its parallel in raja and ashtanga yoga.
·  The religious requirement to pray without ceasing or loving God with all your mind is a form of concentration; prolonged concentration is the very definition of meditation and contemplation.

Thus yoga is the practical side of religion that tries to go beyond social gatherings and waiting for some kind of reward system after death. It concentrates on the actual but forgotten requirements that can still be uncovered when religious scripture is studied carefully.
Next Article: The Six Yoga Systems ->


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