Yoga is a little word that encompasses a wide and vast series of definitions. This is because in truth, there is no single thing called yoga. The word is an umbrella term that covers many traditions and practices.
Formally, Yoga is one of the six schools of Indian philosophy called darshanas. Yoga is a Sanskrit word that is translated as, ‘to yoke’ or ‘to join’ in many traditions in India. However, the first complete philosophical treatise of yoga in written record was Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras in the 2nd century BCE, which defines yoga as ‘the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.’ Which is um, a bit different. The traditions of Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism each have their own yoga traditions.
As a general term, yoga practice means a series of physical and mental purifying exercises meant to lead to a particular outcome, usually affiliated with spiritual realization, awakening, or liberation. However, the byproducts along the way are pretty spectacular too, including a vibrant, clear, healthy mind and body.
Has this answer made your quest to understand yoga easier? Probably not. But it should impress upon you that, if you are new to yoga, a great adventure awaits you. To explore, express, breathe, study, and investigate the nature of yourself. Ultimately, yoga is the process of self-inquiry. YOU are the material you are investigating and there are many yoga tools to do that. So jump in. Smile. Laugh. Explore. Embrace the ride. Come join us. We would love to have you.