What Is Yoga?

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Kate Wiesner in the fish pose (Matsyasana)

According to Sri Swami Satchidananda:

'Yoga is the control of ideas in the mind. When the word Yoga is mentioned, most people immediately think of some physical postures for relaxing and limbering up the body. This is one aspect of the Yogic science, but actually only a very small part and relatively recent in development. The physical Yoga, or Hatha Yoga, was primarily designed to facilitate the real practice of Yoga, namely, the understanding and complete mastery over the mind. So the actual meaning of the word Yoga is science of the mind.'

From The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as translated by Sri Swami Satchidananda

According to Georg Feuerstein:

'Yoga is a spectacularly multifaceted phenomenon, and as such it is very difficult to define because there are exceptions to every conceivable rule. What all branches and schools of Yoga have in common, however, is that they are concerned with a state of being, or consciousness, that is truly extraordinary. One ancient yoga scripture, Vyasa’s Yoga-Bhashya (1.1), captures this essential orientation in the following equation: Yoga is ecstasy.'

From The Yoga Tradition by Georg Feuerstein, PhD