To yoke or harness, as in yoking with and uniting the mind and body or the individual and universal consciousness, what it is we commune with and the means by which we do so vary across many sources, teachers, and practices. In one sense of the word, yoga refers to that vast body of spiritual beliefs, physical techniques, and scholarly philosophy first developed in India over 5,000 years ago. Tadasana Pose Yoga On another generic level, yoga is the name applied to numerous spiritual paths of transcendence and liberation from the self and the ego. The application of the term yoga, the tradition of which, in fact, predates religion of any kind, has even been extended to other traditions that have clearly been influenced throughout history by the original Indian source of inspiration.
Tadasana Pose Yoga Tibetan Yoga Vajrayana Buddhism, Japanese Yoga Zen, and Chinese Yoga Cha'an all share similarities in philosophy and practice with Indian Yoga.
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From certain angles, yoga even overlaps with aspects of Judaism and Christianity. Though they all developed quite independently of one another, Judaism and Christianity have traditions of mysticism and transcendence, particularly within their traditions of ritual, just as in yoga. Also, especially with the rise in popularity of yoga in the West in the last half of this century, many parallels can be drawn between all of these spiritual practices.