The word Yoga means “unity” or “oneness”, derived from the Sanskrit word “yuj,” which means to join – in spiritual terms, it means the union or joining of the individual consciousness and the universal consciousness. In other words, the main purpose of Yoga is to unite ourselves with our highest nature.
The basic text of the Yoga philosophical school is the "Yoga Sutras of Patanjali" compiled by sage Patanjali and consisting of four chapters. The heart of Patanjali's teachings is the eightfold path of Yoga, which consists of teachings for living a better life.
The eightfold path is called Ashtanga. It literally means “eight limbs” (“ashta” means eight and “anga” means limbs). These limbs or practices are defined in the second chapter of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Yama (moral restraints or don’ts), Niyama (observances or dos), Asana (posture), Pranayama (breath extension or control of life force), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), Samadhi (superconscious state or meditative absorption).
Yogic practices impact our lives at the deepest levels – physiological, psychological, and spiritual. You gradually become aware of the interconnectedness between these levels. Therefore, Yoga is meant not only for health and fitness. Its benefits are immense. However, these can be experienced only through a regular and consistent practice.