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Copyright 2001 Realization.org.





  yoga, meditation, advaita, advaita vedanta, Hinduism, Buddhism, kundalini, consciousness, samadhi   This statue from the ancient city of Harrapa may be a portrait of a yogi. If so, it could be the oldest one known. Note the forehead ornament and serene expression.

Yoga is any one of hundreds of disciplines that help a person develop spiritually, mentally, and physically to attain a more elevated condition.

Yoga developed in India over thousands of years and spread to the rest of Asia. It has become part of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

Literally, the word means "union" in Sanskrit, implying that the practitioner ultimately joins with God. However, not all yogis believe in God.

According to scholar Georg Feuerstein, "Underlying all forms of Yoga is the understanding that the human being is more than the physical body and that, through a course of discipline, it is possible to discover what this 'more' is."1

A man who practices yoga is called a yogi; a woman is called a yogini.

Note 1. Feuerstein, Georg, "What Is Yoga?" on the website of the Yoga Research and Education Center.




Almost every page on this site is related to yoga. In particular, you may want to read:

Jnana Yoga
The yoga of knowledge. Its methods are discrimination, discernment, neti-neti, and self-enquiry.

Bhakti Yoga
The yoga of love, devotion, and surrender.

Kundalini is one of the names given to energy phenomena which can occur to practitioners of all yogas.

Tantra is both a type of yoga and an influence that pervades most other types of yoga. It is sensual, physical, embracing, ritualistic, symbolic, accepting, and tolerant.

Swami Sivananda

This page has many links to excellent free books on the web about various aspects of yoga.



Archaic Yoga
By Georg Feuerstein
Excellent article about the earliest forms of yoga. On the website of the Yoga Research and Education Center.

History of Yoga
By Georg Feuerstein
Excellent article about the history of yoga. On the website of the Yoga Research and Education Center.

The Branches of Yoga
By Prem Prakash
Excellent overview of main types of yoga -- Jnana Yoga, Raja Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Karma Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga -- summarizing the advantages and disadvantages of each.




YREC (Yoga Research and Education Center)
This is probably the best place on the web to get an overview of yoga and look for reference materials about it. More than 60 articles explain its history, varieties, basic ideas, etc. The site is written primarily for general readers by people who have both practical experience and academic expertise. It also includes an excellent glossary and a selective list of links. YREC was founded in 1996 by Georg Feuerstein, a well-known author of more than 30 books.




by Patanjali
The classic, definitive book on the theory of Astanga Yoga (eight-limbed classical Yoga, the kind that leads to control of the mind and samadhi), written more than a thousand years ago (nobody knows when exactly). The famous second sentence says, “Yoga is the stopping of movements of the mind.” Since this book consists of sutras -- terse epigrams on which a teacher would expand improvisationally during a lecture -- it lends itself to a considerable range of interpretation and has become something of a Rorschach blot for commentators to impose their opinions on. There are many translations and commentaries in print. One of the most readable, under the title How to Know God: Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali, is by Swami Prahbavananda and Christopher Isherwood. A translation by Swami Venkatesananda is online here.



Author Unknown

The title means Song of God. This ancient Indian epic (a long poem that tells a story about a hero) is one of the greatest works of literature in world history. As thousands of troops move into position for battle, a reluctant warrior puts down his weapons and tells Krishna (God) that killing is wrong. On the contrary, Krishna tells him, death is illusory, and his duty is to fight. While the massed troops wait to begin killing each other, Krishna teaches yoga to the warrior so he can face battle with equanimity. The Song of God, then, is not only a sublime poem, it's also a yoga textbook. In fact, it's the book that Mahatma Gandhi followed to reach enlightenment. Very few texts -- in western literature, only parts of the Bible come immediately to mind -- have the eerie, spine-chilling profundity of the Gita. There are many websites devoted to it. The most valuable one for readers is the Gita Supersite at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur which lets you look at numerous translations and commentaries simultaneously. (This is how all books shoud be published!) The most readable English translation on the web is probably the one we've reproduced on this site, by Ramanand Prasad; there are at least four others here, here, here, and here. (The Bhagavad Gita As It Is website apparently plans to post a translation, but it wasn't up last time we checked.) This page of Hindu Links Universe has more than a dozen links to Gita sites. There are also many English translations in print. There's a nice review by Georg Feuerstein of Paramahansa Yogananda's translation and commentary here. To hear the Gita sung in Sanskrit (well worth doing even if you can't understand the words) get streaming audio here or look for a CD here. There's a nice introductory essay about the Gita here.





by Mircea Eliade
Eliade was probably the most intelligent and well-educated of all western academic commentators on yoga. Although he had some practical experience with it, his perspective was an outsider's. This permitted him to observe some very large facts about yoga which tend to remain invisibly implicit for those within the tradition. He touches on a number of interesting topics which are rarely addressed -- for example, the relationship between yoga and shamanism. This is a very useful book, perhaps even a great book, but be warned, Eliade was a professor and the text is heavy going with plenty of theological and philosophical terminology.




This page was published on February 7, 2000 and last revised on May 8, 2000.

Copyright 2001 Realization.org. All rights reserved.