Yoga is a group of spiritual practices originating in India. Many Hindu texts discuss different aspects of Yoga. In the context of the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga describes a unified outlook, serenity of mind and action and the ability to stay attuned to the glory of the Self (Atman).
Mayor branches of Yoga are: Hatha Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Raja Yoga. The most popular one in the West is Hatha Yoga and is practiced mainly for mental and physical health.
- Health is wealth, peace of mind is happiness and Yoga shows the way. Swami Vishnu-devananda.
Yoga means "Union" from the same Sanskrit root. What are the elements which are united or to be united when this word is used in its common sense of a practice widely spread in Hindustan whose object is the emancipation of the individual who studies and practises it from the less pleasing features of his life on this planet?... I say Hindustan, but I really mean anywhere on the earth; for research has shown that similar methods producing similar results are to be found in every country. The details vary, but the general structure is the same. Because all bodies, and so all minds, have identical Forms... The more we study this universe produced by our Yoga, the more we collect and synthesize our experience, the nearer we get to a perception of what the Buddha declared to be characteristic of all component things: Sorrow, Change, and Absence of any permanent principle.
... union between the Jivatman and Paramatman, that is between one's individual consciousness and the Universal Consciousness.
Raja Yoga or Classical Yoga, is concerned with the cultivation of the mind using meditation.
- Raja yoga meditation fills the yogi with super-sensuous joy or bliss which is the highest and the most ennobling experience. The bliss elevates the mind and raises the yogi above carnal pleasures, and moulds his bad habits.
A Raja Yogi starts his practice with the mind, although a minimum of postures of Hatha Yoga are usually included as a preparation for the meditation and concentration.