The Definition of the Sanskrit Word, “Yoga”

This is the actual definition of the word yoga in Sanskrit. Looking over the rich diversity of meanings, you can feel how ancient the word is.

  • ( √1. yuj ; ifc. f(ā).) the act of yoking , joining , attaching , harnessing , putting to (of horses) RV. MBh.
  • RV. &c
    employment , use , application , performance
  • MBh.
    equipping or arraying (of an army)
  • ib.
    fixing (of an arrow on the bow-string)
  • L.
    putting on (of armour)
  • MBh. Ka1v. &c
    a means , expedient , device , way , manner , method
  • ib.
    a supernatural means , charm , incantation , magical art
  • Mn. Katha1s. (cf. yoga-nanda)
    a trick , stratagem , fraud , deceit
  • ib. Kaus3. MBh.
    acquisition , gain , profit , wealth , property
  • instr. with or without saha , or comp.). MBh. Ka1v. &c (yogami , to agree , consent , acquiesce in anything R. )
    any junction , union , combination , contact with (
  • yogāt , yogena and yoga-tas ifc. in consequence of , on account of , by reason of , according to , through) Ka1tyS3r. S3vetUp. Mn. &c
    connection , relation (
  • Ka1t2h. S3rS.
    putting together , arrangement , disposition , regular succession
  • °gena ind. and -tas ind. suitably , fitly , duly , in the right manner) MBh. Ka1v. &c
    fitting together , fitness , propriety , suitability (
  • °yoga-tas ind. strenuously , assiduously ; pūrena yogena , with all one's powers , with overflowing zeal) Mn. MBh. &c
    exertion , endeavour , zeal , diligence , industry , care , attention (
  • esp.) self-concentration , abstract meditation and mental abstraction practised as a system (as taught by patañjali and called the yoga philosophy ; it is the second of the two khya systems , its chief aim being to teach the means by which the human spirit may attain complete union with īśvara or the Supreme Spirit ; in the practice of self-concentration it is closely connected with Buddhism) Up. MBh. Ka1v. &c ( IW. 92)
    application or concentration of the thoughts , abstract contemplation , meditation , (
  • yoga or abstract meditation Sarvad.
    any simple act or rite conducive to
  • dharma and kriyā) BhP.
    Yoga personified (as the son of
  • khya) the union of soul with matter (one of the 10 mūlika-arthās or radical facts) Tattvas.
  • pāśupatas) the union of the individual soul with the universal soul Kula7rn2.
  • pāñcarātras) devotion , pious seeking after God Sarvad.
  • (with jainas) contact or mixing with the outer world ib.
  • cāndra-yogā and are 13 in number ; without the moon they are called kha-yogā , or nābhasa-yogā) VarBr2S.
    a constellation , asterism (these , with the moon , are called
  • W.
    the leading or principal star of a lunar asterism
  • of a variable division of time (during which the joint motion in longitude of the sun and moon amounts to 13 degrees 20 minutes ; there are 27 such yogas beginning with vikambha and ending with vaidhti) ib.
  • Nir. Sus3r. (ifc. = dependent on , ruled by Pa1n2. 2-2 , 8 Va1rtt. 1)
    (in gram.) the connection of words together , syntactical dependence of a word , construction
  • Pa1n2. Sch. Siddh. (cf. yoga-vibhāga)
    a combined or concentrated grammatical rule or aphorism
  • opp. to hi q.v.) Nir. Prata1p. Ka1tyS3r. Sch.
    the connection of a word with its root , original or etymological meaning (as
  • L.
    a violator of confidence , spy
  • of a Sch. on the paramārthasāra

Clicking on the big blue numbers should take you to the actual page in the Monier-Williams dictionary. A superb resource.

Whew! This is what yoga means. In Sanskrit, the dictionary, which is the consensus of the Pundits, is prescriptive, and sets forth what is correct. So in Sanskrit, the word yoga has a very broad semantic range, 37 definitions in all.

By contrast, Yoga defined in the American Heritage Dictionary online at
This is a very streamlined definition, and reflects the way Americans use the term, not the full definition as it is in Sanskrit, which is more about harnessing the horses and getting ready for war.

NOUN: 1. also Yoga A Hindu discipline aimed at training the consciousness for a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquillity. 2. A system of exercises practiced as part of this discipline to promote control of the body and mind.ETYMOLOGY: Hindi, from Sanskrit yoga, union, joining. See yeug- Indo-European Roots ENTRY: yeug-DEFINITION: To join.Derivatives include yoke, jugular, adjust, junta, and yoga. I. Zero-grade form *yug-. 1. Suffixed form *yug-o-. a. yoke, from Old English geoc, yoke, from Germanic *yukam; b. jugate, jugular, jugum; conjugate, subjugate, from Latin iugum, yoke; c. zygo- zygoma, zygote, –zygous; azygous, syzygy, from Greek zugon, yoke, and zugoun, to join; d. Yuga, from Sanskrit yugam, yoke. 2. Suffixed (superlative) form *yug-isto-. jostle, joust; adjust, juxtapose, juxtaposition, from Latin ixt, close by, perhaps from *iugist (vi), “on a nearby (road).” 3. Nasalized zero-grade form *yu-n-g-. join, joinder, joint, jointure, junction, juncture, junta; adjoin, conjoin, conjugal, conjunct, enjoin, injunction, rejoin, rejoinder, subjoin, from Latin iungere, to join. II. Suffixed form *yeug-m. zeugma, from Greek zeugma, a bond. III. Suffixed o-grade form *youg-o-. yoga, from Sanskrit yoga, union. (Pokorny 2. eu- 508.)

The word, syzygy, comes from the same root as yoga.

NOUN: Inflected forms: pl. syz·y·gies
1. Astronomy a. Either of two points in the orbit of a celestial body where the body is in opposition to or in conjunction with the sun. b. Either of two points in the orbit of the moon when the moon lies in a straight line with the sun and Earth. c. The configuration of the sun, the moon, and Earth lying in a straight line. 2. The combining of two feet into a single metrical unit in classical prosody.
ETYMOLOGY: Late Latin szygia, from Greek suzugi, union, from suzugos, paired : sun-, su-, syn- + zugon, yoke; see yeug-

The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-05.

When we modern Americans and Europeans use the word yoga, we almost never use the full semantic range of the word, as it has been used for thousands of years in India, in the classic Hindu texts such as the Bhagavad-Gita, or the Mahabharata (of which the Gita is one small part).

Here in the West, we are changing the usage of “yoga” to mean what we want it to mean, and we ignore the whole history and complexity of the word. We intend only several, out of dozens of meanings. This is OK. English is a living language, and the definitions of words change according to usage. The dictionary follows usage.

Yoga and Yukti in Indian Medicine

An interesting overview of Yoga and Yukti from the Encyclopaedia Of Indian Medicine, Volume 2 By S.R. Sudarshan.


prati-° yoga [p= 669,2] [L=132930]
resistance , opposition , contradiction , controversy BhP.





[L=132931]an antidote , remedy
[L=132932]cooperation , association
[L=132933]the being a counterpart of anything