Often when a person thinks of the word YOGA, they think of the physical practice and picture a yogi (someone who practices yoga) twisted in a pose that seems only a contortionist could perform. There are many ways to practice yoga and many variations. This entry is not intended to address the question, "What is Yoga?" but rather define it and gives its actual translation from Sanskrit to English. I will tackle, "What is Yoga?" in several future entries, as the subject matter is large and there are many perspectives to consider. In the meantime, here is a great article from Yoga Journal which answers a lot of basic questions. If you have any curiosity about Yoga, I highly recommend you check it out.
as defined by B.K.S. Iyengar
selected excerpts from Light on Yoga:
The word YOGA is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj meaning to bind, join, attach and yoke, to direct and concentrate one's attention on, to use and apply. It also means union or communion.
Yoga is a timeless pragmatic science evolved over thousands of years dealing with the physical, moral, mental and spiritual well-being of man as a whole. It is the true union of our will with the will of God.
Yoga is one of the six orthodox systems of Indian philosophy. It was collated, coordinated and systematized by Patanjali in his classical work, the Yoga Sutras. In Indian thought, everything is permeated by the Supreme Universal Spirit (God) of which the individual human spirit is a part. The system of yoga is so called because it teaches the means by which the individual can be united to, or be in communion with God, and so secure liberation.
as defined by Oxford Dictionary
noun: a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.
as defined by dictionary.com
1. a school of Hindu philosophy advocating and prescribing a course of physical and mental disciplines for attaining liberation from the material world and union of the self with the Supreme Being or ultimate principle.