Yoga (philosophy)

Yoga philosophy is one of the six major orthodox schools of Hinduism.[1][2] Ancient, medieval and most modern literature often refers to the Yoga school of Hinduism simply as Yoga.[1][3] It is closely related to the Samkhya school of Hinduism. The Yoga school's systematic studies to better oneself physically, mentally and spiritually has influenced all other schools of Indian philosophy.[4][5] The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a key text of the Yoga school of Hinduism.[6]

The epistemology of the Yoga school of Hinduism, like the Sāmkhya school, relies on three of six Pramanas as the means of gaining reliable knowledge.[7] These include Pratyakṣa (perception), Anumāṇa (inference) and Sabda (Āptavacana, word/testimony of reliable sources).[8][9] The metaphysics of Yoga is built on the same dualist foundation as the Samkhya school.[6] The universe is conceptualized as composed of two realities in the Samhkya-Yoga schools: Puruṣa (consciousness) and prakriti (matter). Jiva (a living being) is considered as a state in which puruṣa is bonded to prakriti in some form, in various permutations and combinations of various elements, senses, feelings, activity and mind.[10] During the state of imbalance or ignorance, one or more constituents overwhelm the others, creating a form of bondage. The end of this bondage is called liberation, or moksha, by both the Yoga and Samkhya schools of Hinduism.[11] The ethical theory of the Yoga school is based on Yamas and Niyama, as well as elements of the Guṇa theory of Samkhya.[6]

The Yoga school of Hinduism differs from the closely related non-theistic/atheistic Samkhya school by incorporating the concept of a "personal, yet essentially inactive, deity" or "personal god" (Ishvara).[12][13][14] While the Samkhya school suggests that jnana (knowledge) is a sufficient means to moksha, the Yoga school suggests that systematic techniques and practice, or personal experimentation, combined with Samkhya's approach to knowledge, is the path to moksha.[6] Yoga shares several central ideas with the Advaita Vedanta school of Hinduism, with the difference that Yoga philosophy is a form of experimental mysticism, while Advaita Vedanta is a form of monistic personalism.[15][16][17] Advaita Vedanta, and other schools of Hinduism, accept, adopt and build upon many of the teachings and techniques of Yoga.


Bronze figure of Kashmiri in Meditation by Malvina Hoffman Wellcome M0005215
Bronze figure of a Kashmiri in Meditation by Malvina Hoffman (1885-1966). The yoga posture shown is siddhasana.

The origins of the Yoga school of Hinduism are unclear. Some of its earliest discussions are found in 1st millennium BCE Indian texts such as the Katha Upanishad, the Shvetashvatara Upanishad and the Maitri Upanishad.[18]

The root of "Yoga" is found in hymn 5.81.1 of the Rig Veda, a dedication to rising Sun-god in the morning (Savitri), interpreted as "yoke" or "yogically control".[19]

युञ्जते मन उत युञ्जते धियो विप्रा विप्रस्य बृहतो विपश्चितः (…)[20]

Seers of the vast illumined seer yogically [युञ्जते, yunjante] control their minds and their intelligence... (…)[19]

— Rigveda 5.81.1

Rigveda, however, does not describe Yoga philosophy with the same meaning or context as in medieval or modern times. Early references to practices that later became part of Yoga school of Hinduism, are made in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the oldest Upanishad. Gavin Flood translates it as, "...having become calm and concentrated, one perceives the self (atman), within oneself." The practice of pranayama (consciously regulating breath) is mentioned in hymn 1.5.23 of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (c. ~ 900 BCE), and the practice of pratyahara (concentrating all of one's senses on self) is mentioned in hymn 8.15 of Chandogya Upanishad (c. ~ 800-700 BCE).[21][22]

The Katha Upanishad, dated to be from about the middle of the 1st millennium BCE, in verses 2.6.6 through 2.6.13 recommends a path to Self-knowledge, and calls this path Yoga.[23]

यदा पञ्चावतिष्ठन्ते ज्ञानानि मनसा सह ।
बुद्धिश्च न विचेष्टते तामाहुः परमां गतिम् ॥ १० ॥
तां योगमिति मन्यन्ते स्थिरामिन्द्रियधारणाम् ।
अप्रमत्तस्तदा भवति योगो हि प्रभवाप्ययौ ॥ ११ ॥[24]

Only when Manas (mind) with thoughts and the five senses stand still,
and when Buddhi (intellect, power to reason) does not waver, that they call the highest path.
That is what one calls Yoga, the stillness of the senses, concentration of the mind,
It is not thoughtless heedless sluggishness, Yoga is creation and dissolution.

— Katha Upanishad, 2.6.10-11[25][26]

The Yoga school of Hinduism is mentioned in foundational texts of other orthodox schools such as the Vaisesikha Sutras, Nyaya Sutras and Brahma Sutras, which suggests that the Yoga philosophy was in vogue in the 1st millennium BCE.[27] It influenced and was influenced by other schools and Indian philosophies. There are, for example, numerous parallels in the concepts in the Samkhya school of Hinduism, Yoga and the Abhidharma schools of thought, particularly from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century AD, notes Larson.[18] Patanjali's Yoga Sutras may be a synthesis of these three traditions. From the Samkhya school of Hinduism, the Yoga Sutras adopt the "reflective discernment" (adhyavasaya) of prakrti and purusa (dualism), its metaphysical rationalism, as well its three epistemic methods to gaining reliable knowledge.[18] From Abhidharma Buddhism's idea of nirodhasamadhi, suggests Larson, the Yoga Sutras adopt the pursuit of an altered state of awareness, but unlike Buddhism, which believes that there is neither self nor soul, Yoga is physicalist and realist like Samkhya in believing that each individual has a self and soul.[18] The third concept that the Yoga Sutras synthesize into its philosophy is the ancient ascetic traditions of isolation, meditation and introspection.[18]

The systematic collection of ideas of the Yoga school of Hinduism is found in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. After its circulation in the first half of the 1st millennium CE, many Indian scholars reviewed it, then published their Bhāṣya (notes and commentary) on it, which together form a canon of texts called the Pātañjalayogaśāstra ("The Treatise on Yoga of Patañjali").[28][29]

Six darsanas

The Yoga school of Hinduism has been included as one of the six orthodox schools in medieval era Indian texts.[30] The other schools are Samkhya, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa and Vedanta.[31]


The Yoga school of Hindu philosophy is most closely related to the Samkhya school. In both, the foundational concepts include two realities: Purusha and Prakriti.[31] The Purusha is defined as that reality which is pure consciousness and is devoid of thoughts or qualities. The Prakriti is the empirical, phenomenal reality which includes matter and also mind, sensory organs and the sense of identity (self, soul).[31] A living being is held in both schools to be the union of matter and mind. The Yoga school differs from the Samkhya school in its views on the ontology of Purusha, on axiology and on soteriology.[32][33]


3 Pramana Epistemology Samkhya Yoga Hindu schools
The Yoga school considers perception, inference and reliable testimony as three reliable means to knowledge.[8][9]

Yoga school, like Samkhya school, considers Pratyakṣa or Dṛṣṭam (direct sense perception), Anumāna (inference), and Śabda or Āptavacana (verbal testimony of the sages or shāstras) to be the only valid means of knowledge or Pramana.[8] Unlike few other schools of Hinduism such as Advaita Vedanta, Yoga did not adopt the following three Pramanas: Upamāṇa (comparison and analogy), Arthāpatti (postulation, deriving from circumstances) or Anupalabdi (non-perception, negative/cognitive proof).[9]

  • Pratyakṣa (प्रत्यक्षाय) means perception. It is of two types in Hindu texts: external and internal. External perception is described as that arising from the interaction of five senses and worldly objects, while internal perception is described by this school as that of inner sense, the mind.[34][35] The ancient and medieval Indian texts identify four requirements for correct perception:[36] Indriyarthasannikarsa (direct experience by one's sensory organ(s) with the object, whatever is being studied), Avyapadesya (non-verbal; correct perception is not through hearsay, according to ancient Indian scholars, where one's sensory organ relies on accepting or rejecting someone else's perception), Avyabhicara (does not wander; correct perception does not change, nor is it the result of deception because one's sensory organ or means of observation is drifting, defective, suspect) and Vyavasayatmaka (definite; correct perception excludes judgments of doubt, either because of one's failure to observe all the details, or because one is mixing inference with observation and observing what one wants to observe, or not observing what one does not want to observe).[36] Some ancient scholars proposed "unusual perception" as pramana and called it internal perception, a proposal contested by other Indian scholars. The internal perception concepts included pratibha (intuition), samanyalaksanapratyaksa (a form of induction from perceived specifics to a universal), and jnanalaksanapratyaksa (a form of perception of prior processes and previous states of a 'topic of study' by observing its current state).[37] Further, some schools of Hinduism considered and refined rules of accepting uncertain knowledge from Pratyakṣa-pranama, so as to contrast nirnaya (definite judgment, conclusion) from anadhyavasaya (indefinite judgment).[38]
  • Anumāṇa (अनुमान) means inference. It is described as reaching a new conclusion and truth from one or more observations and previous truths by applying reason.[39] Observing smoke and inferring fire is an example of Anumana.[34] In all except one Hindu philosophies,[40] this is a valid and useful means to knowledge. The method of inference is explained by Indian texts as consisting of three parts: pratijna (hypothesis), hetu (a reason), and drshtanta (examples).[41] The hypothesis must further be broken down into two parts, state the ancient Indian scholars: sadhya (that idea which needs to proven or disproven) and paksha (the object on which the sadhya is predicated). The inference is conditionally true if sapaksha (positive examples as evidence) are present, and if vipaksha (negative examples as counter-evidence) are absent. For rigor, the Indian philosophies also state further epistemic steps. For example, they demand Vyapti – the requirement that the hetu (reason) must necessarily and separately account for the inference in "all" cases, in both sapaksha and vipaksha.[41][42] A conditionally proven hypothesis is called a nigamana (conclusion).[43]
  • Śabda (शब्द) means relying on word, testimony of past or present reliable experts.[44][45] Hiriyanna explains Sabda-pramana as a concept which means reliable expert testimony. The schools of Hinduism which consider it epistemically valid suggest that a human being needs to know numerous facts, and with the limited time and energy available, he can learn only a fraction of those facts and truths directly.[46] He must cooperate with others to rapidly acquire and share knowledge and thereby enrich each other's lives. This means of gaining proper knowledge is either spoken or written, but through Sabda (words).[46] The reliability of the source is important, and legitimate knowledge can only come from the Sabda of reliable sources.[44][46] The disagreement between the schools of Hinduism has been on how to establish reliability. Some schools, such as Carvaka, state that this is never possible, and therefore Sabda is not a proper pramana. Other schools debate means to establish reliability.[47]


The metaphysics of Yoga school, again like Samkhya school, is a form of dualism. It considers consciousness and matter, self/soul and body as two different realities.[48][49]

The Samkhya-Yoga system espouses dualism between consciousness and matter by postulating two "irreducible, innate and independent realities: Purusha and Prakriti. While the Prakriti is a single entity, the Samkhya-Yoga schools admit a plurality of the Puruṣas in this world. Unintelligent, unmanifest, uncaused, ever-active, imperceptible and eternal Prakriti is alone the final source of the world of objects. The Puruṣa is considered as the conscious principle, a passive enjoyer (bhokta) and the Prakriti is the enjoyed (bhogya). Samkhya-Yoga believes that the Puruṣa cannot be regarded as the source of inanimate world, because an intelligent principle cannot transform itself into the unconscious world. This metaphysics is a pluralistic spiritualism, a form of realism built on the foundation of dualism.[50]

Yoga school of Hinduism adopts the theory of Guṇa from Samkhya.[6] Guṇas theory states that three gunas (innate tendency, attributes) are present in different proportions in all beings, and these three are sattva guna (goodness, constructive, harmonious), rajas guna (passion, active, confused), and tamas guna (darkness, destructive, chaotic).[51][52] These three are present in every being but in different proportions, and the fundamental nature and psychological dispositions of beings is a consequence of the relative proportion of these three gunas.[6] When sattva guna predominates an individual, the qualities of lucidity, wisdom, constructiveness, harmonious, and peacefulness manifest themselves; when rajas is predominant, attachment, craving, passion-driven activity and restlessness manifest; and when tamas predominates in an individual, ignorance, delusion, destructive behavior, lethargy, and suffering manifests. The guṇas theory underpins the philosophy of mind in Yoga school of Hinduism.[6]

The early scholars of Yoga philosophy, posits that the Puruṣa (consciousness) by its nature is sattva (constructive), while Prakriti (matter) by its nature is tamas (chaotic).[6] It further posits that individuals at birth have buddhi (intelligence, sattvic). As life progresses and churns this buddhi, it creates asmita or ahamkara (ego, rajasic). When ego in turn is churned by life, manas (temper, mood, tamasic) is produced. Together, buddhi, ahamkara and manas interact and constitute citta (mind) in Yoga school of Hinduism.[6] Unrestrained modification of citta causes suffering. A way of life that empowers one to become ever more aware of one's consciousness and spirituality innate in buddhi, is the path to one's highest potential and a more serene, content, liberated life. Patanjali's Yoga sutra begins, in verse 2 of Book 1, by defining Yoga as "restraining the Citta from Vrittis."[53]


Axiology in the texts of Yoga school of Hindu philosophy include both a theory of values through the observances of positive values and avoidance of negative, as well as an aesthetic theory on bliss from intrinsic and extrinsic perspectives.[54][55] The values to be observed are called Niyamas, while those to be avoided are called Yamas in Yoga philosophy.

Over sixty different ancient and medieval era texts of Yoga philosophy discuss Yamas and Niyamas.[56][57] The specific theory and list of values varies between the texts, however, Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Svādhyāya, Kșhamā, and Dayā are among the predominantly discussed ethical concepts by majority of these texts.[56]

The five yamas listed by Patañjali in Yogasūtra 2.30 are:[58]

  1. Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): Nonviolence, non-harming other living beings[59]
  2. Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, non-falsehood[59][60]
  3. Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing[59]
  4. Brahmacarya (ब्रह्मचर्य): celibacy, non-cheating on one's partner[60]
  5. Aparigraha (अपरिग्रहः): non-avarice,[59] non-possessiveness[60]

Patanjali, in Book 2, explains how and why each of the above self restraints help in the personal growth of an individual. For example, in verse II.35, Patanjali states that the virtue of nonviolence and non-injury to others (Ahimsa) leads to the abandonment of enmity, a state that leads the yogi to the perfection of inner and outer amity with everyone, everything.[61][62] Other texts of the Yoga school of Hinduism include Kṣamā (क्षमा, forgiveness),[63] Dhṛti (धृति, fortitude, non-giving up in adversity), Dayā (दया, compassion),[63] Ārjava (आर्जव, non-hypocrisy)[64] and Mitāhāra (मितहार, measured diet).[65]

The Niyamas part of theory of values in the Yoga school include virtuous habits, behaviors and observances.[66][67] The Yogasutra lists the niyamas as:[68]

  1. Śauca: purity, clearness of mind, speech and body[69]
  2. Santoṣa: contentment, acceptance of others, acceptance of one's circumstances as they are in order to get past or change them, optimism for self[70]
  3. Tapas: persistence, perseverance, austerity[71][72]
  4. Svādhyāya: study of Vedas (see Sabda in epistemology section), study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self's thoughts, speeches and actions[72][73]
  5. Īśvarapraṇidhāna: contemplation of the Ishvara (God/Supreme Being, Brahman, True Self, Unchanging Reality)[70][74]

As with Yamas, Patanjali explains how and why each of the above Niyamas help in the personal growth of an individual. For example, in verse II.42, Patanjali states that the virtue of contentment and acceptance of others as they are (Santoṣa) leads to the state where inner sources of joy matter most, and the craving for external sources of pleasant ceases.[75] Other texts of the Yoga school expanded the list of values under Niyamas, to include behaviors such as Āstika (आस्तिक, belief in personal God, faith in Self, conviction that there is knowledge in Vedas/Upanishads), Dāna (दान , charity, sharing with others),[76] Hrī (ह्री, remorse and acceptance of one's past/mistakes/ignorance, modesty)[77] Mati (मति, think and reflect, reconcile conflicting ideas)[78] and Vrata (व्रत, resolutions and vows, fast, pious observances).[79][80][81]


Lotus position
The fusion of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi is Sanyama – the path to Moksha or Kaivalya in Yoga school.

Yoga school of Hinduism holds that ignorance is the cause of suffering and saṁsāra.[6] Liberation, like many other schools, is removal of ignorance, which is achieved through discriminative discernment, knowledge and self-awareness. The Yoga Sūtras is Yoga school's treatise on how to accomplish this.[6] Samādhi is the state where ecstatic awareness develops, state Yoga scholars, and this is how one starts the process of becoming aware of Purusa and true Self. It further claims that this awareness is eternal, and once this awareness is achieved, a person cannot ever cease being aware; this is moksha, the soteriological goal in Hinduism.[6]

Book 3 of Patanjali's Yogasutra is dedicated to soteriological aspects of yoga philosophy. Patanjali begins by stating that all limbs of yoga are necessary foundation to reaching the state of self-awareness, freedom and liberation. He refers to the three last limbs of yoga as sanyama, in verses III.4 to III.5, and calls it the technology for "discerning principle" and mastery of citta and self-knowledge.[82][83] In verse III.12, the Yogasutras state that this discerning principle then empowers one to perfect sant (tranquility) and udita (reason) in one's mind and spirit, through intentness. This leads to one's ability to discern the difference between sabda (word), artha (meaning) and pratyaya (understanding), and this ability empowers one to compassionately comprehend the cry/speech of all living beings.[84][85] Once a yogi reaches this state of sanyama, it leads to unusual powers, intuition, self-knowledge, freedoms and kaivalya, the soteriological goal of the yogi.[84]

The benefits of Yoga philosophy of Hinduism is then summarized in verses III.46 to III.55 of Yogasutras, stating that the first 5 limbs leads to bodily perfections such as beauty, loveliness, strength and toughness; while the last 3 limbs through sanyama leads to mind and psychological perfections of perceptiveness, one's nature, mastery over egoism, discriminative knowledge of purity, self and soul.[86][87] This knowledge once reached is irreversible, states Yogasutra's Book IV.

God in Yoga school of Hinduism

Yoga philosophy allows the concept of God, unlike the closely related Samkhya school of Hinduism which is atheistic/non-theistic.[32] Hindu scholars such as the 8th century Adi Sankara, as well many modern academic scholars describe the Yoga school as "Samkya school with God."[2][13][33]

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali use the term Isvara in 11 verses: I.23 through I.29, II.1, II.2, II.32 and II.45. Ever since the Sutras' release, Hindu scholars have debated and commented on who or what is Isvara. These commentaries range from defining Isvara as a "personal god" to a "special self" to "anything that has spiritual significance to the individual".[13][88] Whicher explains that while Patanjali's terse verses can be interpreted both as theistic or non-theistic, Patanjali's concept of Isvara in Yoga philosophy functions as a "transformative catalyst or guide for aiding the yogin on the path to spiritual emancipation".[89]

Patanjali defines Isvara (Sanskrit: ईश्वर) in verse 24 of Book 1, as "a special Self (पुरुषविशेष, puruṣa-viśeṣa)",[90]

Sanskrit: क्लेश कर्म विपाकाशयैःपरामृष्टः पुरुषविशेष ईश्वरः ॥२४॥
– Yoga Sutras I.24

This sutra of Yoga philosophy of Hinduism adds the characteristics of Isvara as that special Self which is unaffected (अपरामृष्ट, aparamrsta) by one's obstacles/hardships (क्लेश, klesha), one's circumstances created by the past or by one's current actions (कर्म, karma), one's life fruits (विपाक, vipâka), and one's psychological dispositions or intentions (आशय, ashaya).[91][92]

Text sources

The most studied ancient and medieval era texts of the Yoga school of philosophy include those by Patanjali, Bhaskara, Haribhadra (Jain scholar), Bhoja, and Hemachandra.[6][93]

References to the teachings of the Yoga school of Hinduism abound in ancient Indian texts of other orthodox schools of Hinduism, for example, verse 5.2.17[94] of Vaisheshika Sutra by Kanada, belonging to the Vaisheshika school of Hinduism and dated to be from the 1st millennium BCE,[95] states[96]

Pleasure and pain results from contact of soul, sense, mind and object. Non-origination of that follows when the mind becomes steady in the soul. After it, there is non-existence of pain in the embodied soul. This is that Yoga.

— Vaiśeṣika Sūtra 5.2.15-5.2.16, [96]

The Nyāya Sūtras by Akshapada variously dated to be from 4th to 2nd century BCE,[95] and belonging to the Nyaya school of Hinduism, in chapter 4.2 discusses the importance of Yoga philosophy as follows,[27]

We are instructed to practice meditation in such places as a forest, a cave or a sand-bank. Such possibilities [the opponent claims] may occur even in release. It is, we reply, not so, because knowledge must spring up only in a body already in the state of formation. And there is absence of a body in our release. For that purpose, there should be a purifying of our soul by abstinence from evil, and observance of certain virtues, as well as by following the spiritual injunctions gleaned from Yoga. To secure release [moksha], it is necessary to study and follow this treatise on knowledge [Yoga], as well as to hold discussions with those learned in that treatise.

— Nyaya Sūtra 4.2.42-4.2.47, [97]

The Brahma Sutras by Badarayana dated to somewhere between the 5th century BCE[98] and the 2nd century BCE,[95] belonging to the Vedanta school of Hinduism, in chapter 2 assumes the existence of a text called Yoga Smriti. Scholars contest whether this text was a precursor or the same as Patanjali's Yogasutra, but either premise is uncertain.[27] The verses of Brahma Sutras assert that dualism of the prevailing Yoga philosophy is refuted, as the value of Yoga is as a means to realization of the Self, not in propositions about Self that is in conflict with the Vedic texts. Radhakrishnan translates the text as follows,

If it is said that there will result the defect of not allowing room for certain Smritis, we say not so, because there will result the defect of not allowing room for some other smritis [further knowledge], and on account of the non-perception of others. Thereby [pradhāna theory of] the Yoga Smriti is refuted.

— Brahma Sūtra 2.1.1-2.1.3, [99][100]

The Yoga Vasistha is a syncretic text on Yoga philosophy, variously dated to be from 6th- to 14th-century CE.[101] It is structured as a dialogue between sage Vasistha of the Vedic era and the philosopher-king Rama of the Hindu epic Ramayana.[102] The text synthesizes elements of Vedanta, Jainism, Yoga, Samkhya, Saiva Siddhanta and Mahayana Buddhism.[102] Among other things, the text discusses Yoga philosophy in its various chapters. In section 6.1, Yoga Vasistha introduces Yoga as follows,[103]

Yoga is the utter transcendence of the mind and is of two types. Self-knowledge is one type, another is the restraint of the life-force of self limitations and psychological conditioning. Yoga has come to mean only the latter, yet both the methods lead to the same result. To some, Self-knowledge through inquiry is difficult, to others Yoga is difficult. But my conviction is that the path of inquiry is easy for all, because Self-knowledge is the ever-present truth. I shall now describe to you the method of Yoga.

— Vasistha to Rama, Yoga Vasistha 6.1.12-13, [103]

See also


  1. ^ a b Knut Jacobsen (2008), Theory and Practice of Yoga, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120832329, pages 100-101, 333-340
  2. ^ a b Maurice Phillips (Published as Max Muller collection), The Evolution of Hinduism, Origin and Growth of Religion, p. 8, at Google Books, PhD. Thesis awarded by University of Berne, Switzerland, page 8
  3. ^ Mike Burley (2012), Classical Samkhya and Yoga – An Indian Metaphysics of Experience, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-64887-5, pages 43-46 and Introduction chapter
  4. ^ Mike Burley (2012), Classical Samkhya and Yoga – An Indian Metaphysics of Experience, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-64887-5, pages 20-29
  5. ^ Roy Perrett, Indian Ethics: Classical traditions and contemporary challenges, Volume 1 (Editor: P Bilimoria et al), Ashgate, ISBN 978-0-7546-3301-3, pages 149-158
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Edwin Bryant (2011, Rutgers University), The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali IEP
  7. ^ John A. Grimes, A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0-7914-3067-5, page 238
  8. ^ a b c Larson 1998, p. 9
  9. ^ a b c * Eliott Deutsche (2000), in Philosophy of Religion : Indian Philosophy Vol 4 (Editor: Roy Perrett), Routledge, ISBN 978-0-8153-3611-2, pages 245-248;
    • John A. Grimes, A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0-7914-3067-5, page 238
  10. ^ Samkhya – Hinduism Encyclopædia Britannica (2014)
  11. ^ Gerald James Larson (2011), Classical Sāṃkhya: An Interpretation of Its History and Meaning, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120805033, pages 36-47
  12. ^ Mike Burley (2012), Classical Samkhya and Yoga – An Indian Metaphysics of Experience, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-64887-5, page 39-41
  13. ^ a b c Lloyd Pflueger, Person Purity and Power in Yogasutra, in Theory and Practice of Yoga (Editor: Knut Jacobsen), Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120832329, pages 38-39
  14. ^ Kovoor T. Behanan (2002), Yoga: Its Scientific Basis, Dover, ISBN 978-0-486-41792-9, pages 56-58
  15. ^ Phillips, Stephen H. (1995). Classical Indian Metaphysics: Refutations of Realism and the Emergence of "New Logic". Open Court Publishing. pp. 12–13.
  16. ^ Personalism Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2013)
  17. ^ Northrop Frye (2006), Educated Imagination and Other Writings on Critical Theory, 1933–1962, University of Toronto Press, ISBN 978-0-8020-9209-0, page 291
  18. ^ a b c d e Larson, pp. 43-45
  19. ^ a b Burley, Mikel (2000). Hatha Yoga: Its Context, Theory and Practice. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. p. 25. ISBN 978-8120817067.
  20. ^ Sanskrit: '
    Source: Rigveda Book 5, Chapter 81 Wikisource
  21. ^ Mircea Eliade (2009), Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-14203-6, pages 117-118
  22. ^ Max Muller, The Upanishads, The Sacred Books of the East – Part 1, Oxford University Press, Quote: (He who engages in) self study, concentrates all his senses on the Self, never giving pain to any creature, except at the tîrthas, he who behaves thus all his life, reaches the world of Brahman, and does not return, yea, he does not return".
    GN Jha: Chandogya Upanishad VIII.15, page 488
  23. ^ Max Muller (1962), Katha Upanishad, in The Upanishads – Part II, Dover Publications, ISBN 978-0-486-20993-7, page 22
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  53. ^ Vivekanada, p. 115.
  54. ^ Robert S. Hartman (2002), The Knowledge of Good: Critique of Axiological Reason, Rodopi, ISBN 978-9042012202, pages 224-225
  55. ^ Howard Coward (2002), Yoga and Psychology: Language, Memory, and Mysticism, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0-7914-5500-5, pages 42-46, 88-89, 109-110
  56. ^ a b SV Bharti (2001), Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: With the Exposition of Vyasa, Motilal Banarsidas, ISBN 978-8120818255, Appendix I, pages 672-691
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  72. ^ a b SA Bhagwat (2008), Yoga and Sustainability. Journal of Yoga, Fall/Winter 2008, 7(1): 1-14
  73. ^ Polishing the mirror Yoga Journal, GARY KRAFTSOW, FEB 25, 2008
  74. ^ Īśvara + praṇidhāna, Īśvara and praṇidhāna
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  76. ^ William Owen Cole (1991), Moral Issues in Six Religions, Heinemann, ISBN 978-0-435-30299-3, pages 104-105
  77. ^ Hri Monier Williams Sanskrit English Dictionary
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  81. ^ Hartmut Scharfe, Handbook of Oriental Studies – Education in Ancient India, Brill, ISBN 978-9004125568, pages 217-222
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  83. ^ Gregor Maehle (2007), Ashtanga Yoga: Practice & Philosophy, ISBN 978-1-57731-606-0, pages 237-238
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  86. ^ The Yoga-darsana: The sutras of Patanjali with the Bhasya of Vyasa – Book 3 GN Jha (Translator); Harvard University Archives, pages 127-134
  87. ^ The Yoga Philosophy TR Tatya (Translator), with Bhojaraja commentary; Harvard University Archives, pages 132-139
  88. ^ * Hariharānanda Āraṇya (2007), Parabhaktisutra, Aporisms on Sublime Devotion, (Translator: A Chatterjee), in Divine Hymns with Supreme Devotional Aphorisms, Kapil Math Press, Kolkata, pages 55-93;
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  89. ^ Ian Whicher (1999), The Integrity of the Yoga Darsana: A Reconsideration of Classical Yoga, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0-7914-3815-2, page 86
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  93. ^ CK Chapelle (2003), Reconciling Yogas, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0-7914-5900-3, pages 12-15, 39-48
  94. ^ This verse appears as 6.1 in some manuscripts of Vaiseisika Darsana
  95. ^ a b c Michael Brannigan (2009), Striking a Balance: A Primer in Traditional Asian Values, Rowman & Littlefield, ISBN 978-0-7391-3846-5, page 7
  96. ^ a b Original Sanskrit and Translation: The Vaisheshika Sutra of Kanada with the Commentary of Sankara Misra BD Basu (Translator), The Sacred Books of the Hindus, Volume 6, University of Toronto Archives; Modern translation: Johannes Bronkhorst (2000), The Two Traditions of Meditation in Ancient India, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120811140, page 64
  97. ^ Original Sanskrit and Translation: The Nyaya Sutras of Gotama SC Vidyabhusana (Translator), The Bhuvaneswari Ashrama, University of Toronto Archives
  98. ^ Oliver Leaman (1999), Key Concepts in Eastern Philosophy, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-17363-6, page xiv
  99. ^ Brahma Sutra Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (Translator, 1960), London: George Allen, pages 333-335
  100. ^ For a more recent translation of the same verse, see Jan E. M. Houben and Karel Rijk van Kooij (1999), Violence Denied, Brill Academic, ISBN 978-9004113442, page 149
  101. ^ S Venkatesananda (Author) and CK Chapelle (Editor, 1985), The Concise Yoga Vasistha, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0-87395-954-4, page x
  102. ^ a b S Venkatesananda (Author) and CK Chapelle (Editor, 1985), The Concise Yoga Vasistha, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0-87395-954-4, pages xi-xii
  103. ^ a b S Venkatesananda (Author) and CK Chapelle (Editor, 1985), The Concise Yoga Vasistha, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0-87395-954-4, pages 275, also 239-246, 272-277


Printed sources

Further reading

  • Alain Daniélou (1991), Yoga: Mastering the Secrets of Matter and the Universe, ISBN 978-0-89281-301-8, Appendix D: Main Sanskrit Treatises on Yoga
  • Carl Olson (2007), The Many Colors of Hinduism: A Thematic-historical Introduction, Rutgers University Press, ISBN 978-0-8135-4068-9, Chapter 5
  • Karl Potter (2009), Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies Vol. 1: Bibliography, ISBN 978-8120803084, Bibliography on Yoga school of Hinduism, pages 1073–1093
  • Maehle, Gregor (2007). Ashtanga Yoga: Practice and Philosophy. New World Library.

External links


Adarsana refers to the real non-seeing of objects which already exist; it refers to the ignorance of factual existence of things. This term figures prominently in the Yoga school of thought, and in Jain philosophy.

Arya Samaj in Ghana

Arya Samaj was established in Ghana in August 1986 by Pandit Wreston Charles Ankoh when he founded the Arya Vedic Mission in Accra. Ankoh was the first black African to be trained as a Vedic priest in Durban, South Africa. Under the guidance of Pandit Nardev Vedaalankarji, he completing his studies in Vedic knowledge, Vedic mantras and yoga philosophy . Initially the Mission consisted of five members from African families, who gathered for weekly satsangs, yagnas and philosophical study.

From humble beginnings, the Ghana Arya Vedic Mission has grown dramatically, and broadcasts the Samaj's Hindu teachings across Ghana through public speaking, satsangs and literature. On the back of his success in Ghana, Ankoh is negotiating to begin a mission in neighboring Nigeria. Ankoh's success is due to maintaining the integrity of the Vedic rituals and chants, while allowing a reconciliation of Indian customs and traditional Ghanan cultural practices. For marriages, the bride may dress in Ghanan fashion. Members often keep their Ghanan ancestral name during the namakarana (name-giving sacrament). Vegetarianism and yoga practice are taught and encouraged, and the Ghana youth excel at hatha yoga postures.

Asana Journal

Asana Journal is the first and only international Yoga magazine published from India, both in English and Tamil, focusing on modern yoga, naturopathy and wellbeing.


Asmita may refer to:

ABP Asmita, an Indian television news channel

Asmita English Secondary School, a school in Lalitpur, Nepal

Asmita Gardens, a residential complex in Bucharest

Asmita Law College, a law school in Vikhroli, Mumbai, India

Asmita Marwa (active since 1990s), Indian fashion designer

Asmita Sood (born 1989), Indian model

Yoga (philosophy) Epistemology referring to Egoism

Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga

Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga is a modern style of Hatha Yoga that was created by American yogini Sadie Nardini in 2006. Central to this style is a movement referred to as a 'wave' (softening). The structure of this practice includes a 7 step framework which is applied to each pose within a sequence. Nardini incorporates aspects of Kundalini Yoga, Sivananda Yoga, Anusara Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, and includes portions of movement sequences found in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Maintaining an internal focus on joy in the moment is part of the practice philosophy. This style integrates postures with learnings from many disciplines including physics, biology, and geometry, influenced by the works of Leslie Kaminoff. It incorporates traditional yoga philosophy from Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It emphasizes muscles that are deep within the body and includes the use of 'waves' in order to enter and exit poses. Examples include physical moves that activate muscles that are close to the spine—such as psoas and quadratus lumborum in order to build support for the body from within before generating outward expression of that movement.

The purpose of deep core focused poses in this practice is to improve and deepen breathing. This perspective differs from other styles in which the purpose of deep core work is to stabilize the back. In this practice, keeping belly soft and core strong improve breathing. "Belly Bonfire" breath is one example of a deep core breath technique that involves focus and target of attention and breath with softer abs. Pelvis is viewed as the body's physical center of gravity in this system.

Graham Schweig

Graham M. Schweig (born 1953 in Manhattan, New York) joined the faculty at Christopher Newport University in August, 2000, and is currently Professor of Religion and , Director of Studies in Religion, and former inaugural Director of the Asian Studies program. He is also Distinguished Research and Teaching Fellow at The Mira & Ajay Shingal Center for Dharma Studies of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California beginning June, 2017. Schweig did his graduate studies at the University of Chicago and Harvard University and earned his doctorate in Comparative Religion from Harvard University and was a resident fellow of the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard. Schweig was Lecturer at Duke University and later Visiting Associate Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Virginia. Since 2007, Schweig has presented over three dozen invited lectures in his field at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Schweig is an "experienced registered yoga teacher at the 500 hour level (ERYT-500 as well as YACEP)" with Yoga Alliance, and he has held numerous teacher training workshops in the areas of yoga philosophy, history of yoga, Sanskrit for yoga teachers, and advanced trainings in meditation for teachers of yoga. He has over one hundred publications, such as journal articles, encyclopedia articles, reviews, book chapters, along with several books in the field. His book, Dance of Divine Love: India's Classic Sacred Love Story: The Rasa Lila of Krishna (Princeton University Press, 2005) presents an introduction to, comprehensive treatment and translation of the Bhagavata Purana's five chapters on the Rasa Dance of Krishna with the cowherd maidens of Vraja. Another of his works is an introduction to, translation and interpretation of the Bhagavad-gita, entitled Bhagavad Gita: The Beloved Lord's Secret Love Song (Harper One / Harper Collins Publishers, 2010). His most recent work is A Living Theology of Krishna Bhakti: Essential Teachings of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, by Tamal Krishna Goswami, edited with an introduction and conclusion by Graham M. Schweig (Oxford University Press, New York, 2012).

Integral Yoga (Satchidananda)

Integral Yoga is a system of yoga that claims to synthesize six branches of classical Yoga philosophy and practice: Hatha, Raja, Bhakti, Karma, Jnana, and Japa yoga. It was brought to the West by Swami Satchidananda Saraswati, the first centre being founded in 1966. Its aim is to integrate body, mind, and spirit, using physical practices and philosophical approaches to life to develop the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of individuals.

The system includes the practices of asana (yoga postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), and meditation to develop physical and mental stillness so as to access inner peace and joy, which Satchidananda believed was a person's true nature. It also encourages practitioners to live service-oriented lives.Integral Yoga is based on interfaith understanding. Satchidananda taught that all religions share essential universal principles and encouraged Integral Yogis to respect and honor the unity in diversity, summarized by his motto, "Truth is one, paths are many." It is not a religion, but a combination of teachings that form the foundation of spiritual practice. Its branches are not hierarchical in nature; practitioners can find a combination of practices that suits their individual needs.

Classes of Integral Yoga are taught around the world. Its headquarters, Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville, is in Buckingham, Virginia.


Īśvarapraṇidhāna "commitment to the Īśvara ("Lord")" is also one of five Niyama (ethical observances) in Hinduism and Yoga.

Mahavakya Upanishad

The Mahavakya Upanishad (Sanskrit: महावाक्य उपनिषत्, IAST: Mahāvākya Upaniṣad) is a Sanskrit text and one of the minor Upanishads of Hinduism. It is attached to the Atharvaveda, and is classified as one of the 20 Yoga Upanishads.

The text describes the nature of Atman (self, soul) and Brahman (ultimate reality), then asserts that they are identical and liberation is the state of fully understanding this identity.

N. C. Paul

N. C. Paul was a 19th-century Bengali physician and scientist. He described studies of physiologic changes in persons performing yoga and introduced yoga to a wider Western audience.


In Hindu philosophy including yoga, Indian medicine and Indian martial arts, prana (प्राण, prāṇa; the Sanskrit word for "life force" or "vital principle") permeates reality on all levels including inanimate objects. In Hindu literature, prana is sometimes described as originating from the Sun and connecting the elements.Five types of prana, collectively known as the five vāyus, are referred to in Hindu texts. Ayurveda, tantra and Tibetan medicine all describe praṇā vāyu as the basic vāyu from which the other vāyus arise.

Pranagnihotra Upanishad

The Pranagnihotra Upanishad (Sanskrit: प्राणाग्निहोत्र उपनिषत्, IAST:Pranagnihotra Upaniṣad) is a minor Upanishad of Hinduism. In the anthology of 108 Upanishads of the Muktika canon, narrated by Rama to Hanuman, it is listed at number 94. The Sanskrit text is one of the 22 Samanya Upanishads, part of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy literature and is attached to the Atharva Veda. The Upanishad comprises 23 verses.The Pranagnihotra Upanishad's title literally means Hotra (sacrifice) offered to the Agni (fire) of Prana (breath, life force)." The text asserts that universal soul (God) is within one self, all Vedic gods are embodied in the human body giving one various abilities, eating is allegorically a sacrifice to the gastric fire, and life is a ceremony to the God within.The Upanishad suggests that even if one does not perform external rituals such as the Vedic Agnihotra and one lacks the knowledge of Samkhya or Yoga philosophy, one can nevertheless achieve moksha (liberation, freedom) by realizing that the God is within one's body, and the universal soul in the individual self represents the all pervading Brahman. This realization makes a person sail through all suffering and vicissitudes of life. The Upanishad in its final passages states that virtuous duty of non-violence, compassion, patience and memory unto others is an act of worship to the God within. It concludes by re-asserting that "all the gods are enclosed in this body here".The text is also known as Pranagnihotropanishad (Sanskrit: प्राणाग्निहोत्रोपनिषत्).

Rāja yoga

In Sanskrit texts, Rāja yoga () was both the goal of yoga and a method of attaining it. The term also became a modern name for the practice of yoga, when in the 19th-century Swami Vivekananda equated raja yoga with the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Since then, Rāja yoga has variously been called "royal yoga", "royal union", "sahaj marg", "classical yoga", and "aṣṭāṅga yoga".

Saguna brahman

Saguna Brahman (lit. "The Absolute with qualities") came from the Sanskrit saguṇa (सगुण) "with qualities, gunas" and Brahman (ब्रह्मन्) "the Absolute", close to the concept of immanence, the manifested divine presence.

Srivatsa Ramaswami

Srivatsa Ramaswami (b. 1939) is a teacher of Vinyasa Krama yoga. He studied for 33 years under the "grandfather of modern yoga", Krishnamacharya. In India he teaches at Kalakshetra. He has run workshops in America at the Esalen Institute, the Himalayan Institute and many other centres. He is the author of four books on yoga.

Swami Hariharananda Aranya

Swami Hariharananda Aranya (1869–1947) was a yogi, author, and founder of Kapil Math in Madhupur, India, which is the only monastery in the world that actively teaches and practices Samkhya philosophy. His book, Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali with Bhasvati, is considered to be one of the most authentic and authoritative classical Sanskrit commentaries on the Yoga Sutras. Hariharananda is also considered by some as one of the most important thinkers of early twentieth-century Bengal.Hariharananda came from a wealthy Bengali family and after his scholastic education renounced wealth, position, and comfort in search of truth in his early life. The first part of his monastic life was spent in the Barabar Caves in Bihar, hollowed out of single granite boulders bearing the inscriptions of Emperor Ashoka and very far removed from human habitation. He then spent some years at Tribeni, in Bengal, at a small hermitage on the bank of the Ganges and several years at Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Kurseong.

His last years were spent at Madhupur in Bihar, where according to tradition, Hariharananda entered an artificial cave at Kapil Math on 14 May 1926 and remained there in study and meditation for last twenty-one years of his life. The only means of contact between him and his disciples was through a window opening. While living as a hermit, Hariharananda wrote numerous philosophical treatises.

According to Hariharananda, yoga is mental concentration, samadhi, and is one of the schools of Samkhya philosophy. Some of Hariharananda's interpretations of Patañjali's Yoga system had elements in common with Buddhist mindfulness meditation.

The Secret of the Golden Flower

The Secret of the Golden Flower (Chinese: 太乙金華宗旨; pinyin: Tàiyǐ Jīnhuá Zōngzhǐ) is a Chinese Taoist classic about neidan (inner alchemy) meditation.


Yoga (; Sanskrit: योग; pronunciation) is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India. Yoga is one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophical traditions. There is a broad variety of yoga schools, practices, and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The term "yoga" in the Western world often denotes a modern form of Hatha yoga, consisting largely of the postures called asanas.

The origins of yoga have been speculated to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions; it is mentioned in the Rigveda, but most likely developed around the sixth and fifth centuries BCE, in ancient India's ascetic and śramaṇa movements. The chronology of earliest texts describing yoga-practices is unclear, varyingly credited to Upanishads. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali date from the first half of the 1st millennium CE, but only gained prominence in the West in the 20th century. Hatha yoga texts emerged around the 11th century with origins in tantra.Yoga gurus from India later introduced yoga to the West, following the success of Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th and early 20th century with his adaptation of yoga tradition, excluding asanas. In the 1980s, a very different form of modern yoga, with an increasing number of asanas and few other practices, became popular as a system of exercise across the Western world. Yoga in Indian traditions, however, is more than physical exercise; it has a meditative and spiritual core. One of the six major orthodox schools of Hinduism is also called Yoga, which has its own epistemology and metaphysics, and is closely related to Hindu Samkhya philosophy.Many studies have tried to determine the effectiveness of modern yoga as a complementary intervention for cancer, schizophrenia, asthma, and heart disease. The results of these studies have been mixed and inconclusive. On December 1, 2016, yoga was listed by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage.

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali are a collection of 196 Indian sutras (aphorisms) on the theory and practice of yoga. The Yoga Sutras were compiled prior to 400 CE by Sage Patanjali who synthesized and organized knowledge about yoga from older traditions. The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali was the most translated ancient Indian text in the medieval era, having been translated into about forty Indian languages and two non-Indian languages: Old Javanese and Arabic. The text fell into relative obscurity for nearly 700 years from the 12th to 19th century, and made a comeback in late 19th century due to the efforts of Swami Vivekananda, the Theosophical Society and others. It gained prominence again as a comeback classic in the 20th century.Before the 20th century, history indicates that the medieval Indian yoga scene was dominated by the various other texts such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Vasistha, texts attributed to Yajnavalkya and Hiranyagarbha, as well as literature on hatha yoga, tantric yoga and Pashupata Shaivism yoga rather than the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali.Hindu orthodox tradition holds the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali to be one of the foundational texts of classical Yoga philosophy. However, the appropriation - and misappropriation - of the Yoga Sutras and its influence on later systematizations of yoga has been questioned by scholars such as David Gordon White, but reaffirmed by others such as James Mallinson.Modern scholars of yoga such as Philipp A. Maas and Mallinson consider the Bhasya commentary on the Sutras to be Patanjali's own, and the Sutras to be his summary of older accounts of yoga. The combined document is thus considered to be a single work, the Pātañjalayogaśāstra.

Yoga physiology
Modern yoga

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