is a group of ancient spiritual practices originating in India.
According to Gavin Flood, Academic Director of the Oxford
Centre for Hindu Studies it has been defined as referring
to "technologies or disciplines of asceticism and meditation
which are thought to lead to spiritual experience and profound
understanding or insight into the nature of existence."
Yoga is also intimately connected to the religious beliefs
and practices of the other Indian religions.
India, Yoga is mostly associated with the practice of asanas
(postures) of Hatha Yoga or as a form of exercise, although
it has influenced the entire Indian religions family and other
spiritual practices throughout the world.
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 (astika) schools of thought.
are numerous opinions on what the goal of Yoga may be. Goals can
range from improving health and fitness, to reaching Moksha.
the monist schools of Advaita Vedanta and Shaivism this perfection
takes the form of Moksha, which is a 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 dualistic bhakti schools of Vaishnavism, bhakti itself is the
ultimate goal of the yoga process, wherein perfection culminates
in an eternal relationship with Vishnu or one of his associated
avatars such as Krishna or Rama.