Yoga is one of India’s traditional systems of philosophy with archaeological evidence tracing back over 4000 years. Transmitted orally through the generations like most Indian philosophies, it tends to stand outside of any established religion. Although acknowledged as a philosophy yoga is heavily based on a foundation of practical application rather than just theory.
The word “yoga” originates from the Sanskrit root yuj which has been translated as ‘Bind, Join, Attach, Yoke or Union’. In ‘Tree of Yoga’, BKS Iyengar explains “Yoga means union. The union of the individual soul with the Universal Spirit is yoga. But this is too abstract a notion to be easily understood, so for our level of understanding I say that yoga is the union of body with the mind and of mind with the soul”. It can therefore be seen as the union of the physical, physiological, mental, emotional and intellectual bodies leading one on a path to an integrated, purposeful, useful and noble life.” Although there are innumerable writings on the subject of yoga, there are two texts that are considered to be of special significance in presenting the essential meaning and application of yoga practice:
Bhagavad Gita (circ.500-200BC)
Yoga Sutras – Patañjali (circ.500-200BC)