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What is yoga?

Yoga (Sanskrit: योग yoga About this sound pronunciation (help·info)) is the physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India with a view to attain a state of permanent peace.The term yoga can be derived from either of two roots, yujir yoga (to yoke) or yuj samādhau (to concentrate).The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali defines yoga as "the stilling of the changing states of the mind" (Sanskrit: योग: चित्त-वृत्ति निरोध:). Yoga has also been popularly defined as "union with the divine" in other contexts and traditions.

Various traditions of yoga are found in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. In Hinduism, yoga is one of the six āstika ("orthodox") schools of Hindu philosophy.Yoga is also an important part of Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. Pre–philosophical speculations and diverse ascetic practices of first millennium BCE were systematized into a formal philosophy in early centuries CE by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. By the turn of the first millennium, hatha yoga emerged from tantra. It along with its many modern variations, is the style that many people associate with the word yoga today. Vajrayana Buddhism, founded by the Indian Mahasiddhas, has a parallel series of asanas and pranayamas, such as caālī and yantra yoga.

Indian monks, beginning with Swami Vivekananda, brought yoga to the West in the late 19th century. In the 1980s, yoga became popular as a system of physical exercise across the Western world. This form of yoga is often called Hatha yoga. Many studies have tried to determine the effectiveness of yoga as a complementary intervention for cancer, schizophrenia, asthma and heart disease.In a national survey, long-term yoga practitioners in the United States reported musculo– skeletal and mental health improvements.

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