For those who haven not had a direct approach, understanding what yoga is and what it means, it is a difficult task. Internet is quick to provide every kind of answers and its declinations. Each of us can type any information which will soon be available to anyone who wants or has the opportunity to read it. For my part, I try to publish content verified by reference texts and referenced authors, adding my personal considerations, derived from direct experience and with the limits that are a part of me. The following goes accordingly.
Today we can see many different approaches to yoga but “they are are all derived from an older tradition” and, especially where we can see a great commercial effort, it has likely been a departure from the tradition.
The Sanskrit word “yog” can be derived from one of the two verbal roots sanscrite yuj “subjugate, connect, unite, harness” or yuj samādhau “concentration”, it is frequently interpreted with the semantic characteristic of “union“, later translating it as “discipline that unites body and mind”thanks to concentration.
In western Yoga is often identified and practiced mainly for its physical postures, expressed in the Sanskrit word āsana आसन “sitting position, sitting, seated” from the root of the verb ās “sitting” precisely. The āsana are one of the aspects taken into consideration by Yoga: “exercise for the body”, which consists of the postures of Haṭha Yoga हठयोग. In reality, āsana was created to purify the “body-mind system“, to give it the prowess, elasticity and strength, necessary to remain seated in meditation for long periods of time. In fact Yoga is, more correctly, a sādhanā “discipline, spiritual effort towards a goal” which involves body, mind, ethics and spirit. Discipline that originated roughly in the area now known as India.
In the Indian bibliography the word Yoga, used meaning control of mind and senses, occurs already in the Vedic era. Perhaps for the first time, it is mentioned in one of the ancient Upaniṣad (corpus dated around the IX-VII century BC): the Taittirīya Upaniṣad तैत्तिरीय उपनिषद् which was part of the black Yajur-Veda यजुर्वेद, and known for being the text in which it is found the first time the formulation of the doctrine of the five kośa कोश “sheath, envelope”. Taittirīya (6th-5th century BC) is an Upaniṣad which includes prayers and blessings, instructions on phonetics and practice, advice on ethics and morals, philosophical instructions and in part is a treatise on allegory.
Each of its chapters is called vallī. The first chapter śikṣā (education, education) vallī is made up of twelve Anuvāka (lessons, repetitions, reciting the readings) the lessons of this first chapter concern the education of students, their initiation into a school, their responsibilities, responsibilities ethical and social aspects of the teacher, the role of breathing, correct pronunciation etc. Furthermore, it contains cosmological explanation and exegesis which “will subsequently give rise to the subsequent meditation on the sacred syllable oṃ“.
The sixth anuvāka therefore ends with the exhortation to meditate on the principle of unity, addressed to Prācīnayogya, name of a Vedic Master who etymologically means “follower of ancient Yoga” making this one of the first mentions of Yoga practice.