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.
BUT first, let’s look at ayoga:
  • ayoga m. separation , disjunction, separation from a lover.
  • unfitness , unsuitableness , nonconformity,
  • impossibility
  • inefficacy of a remedy.
  • medical treatment counter to the symptoms , non-application or mis-application of remedies.
  • vigorous effort , exertion L.
  • inauspicious conjunction of planets L.
  • N. of a certain conjunction of planets.
  • mfn. relating to iron.

37 Meanings of “Yoga”

Think you know what “yoga” means? Here is the full definition of the word, yoga, as set forth in the Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary, page 856:

  1. The act of yoking, joining, attaching, harnessing, putting to (of horses),
    2 a yoke, team, vehicle, conveyance.
    3 Employment, use, application, performance.
    4 Equipping or arraying (of an army)
    5 Fixing (of an arrow on the bow-string)
    6 Putting on (of armor)
    7 A remedy, cure
    8 A means, expedient, device, way, manner, method
    9 A supernatural means, charm, incantation, magical art
    10 A trick, strategem, fraud, deceit
    11 undertaking , business , work
    12 acquisition , gain , profit , wealth , property
    13 occasion , opportunity
    14 any junction , union , combination , contact with,
    15 to agree , consent , acquiesce in anything
    16 mixing of various materials , mixture
    17 partaking of , possessing
    18 connection , relation
    19 putting together , arrangement , disposition , regular succession
    20 fitting together , fitness , propriety , suitability
    21 exertion , endeavour , zeal , diligence , industry , care , attention, strenuously , assiduously; with all one's powers , with overflowing zeal
    22 application or concentration of the thoughts , abstract contemplation , meditation, 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 sāṃkhya 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)
    23 any simple act or rite conducive to yoga or abstract meditation
    24 Yoga personified (as the son of Dharma and Kriyā)
    25 a follower of the yoga system
    26 the union of soul with matter
    27 the union of the individual soul with the universal soul
    28 devotion , pious seeking after God
    29 m. (with jainas) contact or mixing with the outer world
    30 m. (in astronomy.) conjunction , lucky conjuncture. a constellation , asterism (these , with the moon , are called cāndra-yogāḥ and are 13 in number ; without the moon they are called kha-yogāḥ , or nābhasa-yogāḥ)
    31 the leading or principal star of a lunar asterism
    32 N. 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 viṣkambha and ending with vaidhṛti)
    33 (in arithmetic) addition, sum, total
    34 (in grammar) the connection of words together , syntactical dependence of a word , construction
    35 a combined or concentrated grammatical rule or aphorism
    36 the connection of a word with its root , original or etymological meaning
    37 a violator of confidence , spy

Here is the same thing, as a snapshot of the dictionary:


This is the same thing again, from page 854 of the Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English dictionary. If you are going to use a Sanskrit word, it’s good to be able to look it up and see what it really means.
yoga
  • ( √1. yuj ; ifc. f(ā).) the act of yoking , joining , attaching , harnessing , putting to (of horses) RV. MBh.
    m.
  • 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.
    (in
  • pāśupatas) the union of the individual soul with the universal soul Kula7rn2.
    (with
  • pāñcarātras) devotion , pious seeking after God Sarvad.
    (with
  • (with jainas) contact or mixing with the outer world ib.
    m.
  • 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.
    N.
  • 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
    N.

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 Bartleby.com.
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.

SYLLABICATION: syz·y·gy
PRONUNCIATION: sz-j
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.


The face of truth: a study of meaning and metaphysics in the ... - Page 171
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Julius Lipner - 1986 - 183 pages - Google eBook - Preview
In Sanskrit, yogam atmavalokanam praptum icchor mumuk- soh karmayoga eva karanam ucyate. 34. BG11(S) pp. 181-2. ... to end: atha para yaya tad aksaram adhigamyate ity upasanakhyam brahmasaksatkaralaksanam bhaktirupapannam jnanam ucyate. ...
books.google.com


Cool Yoga Words



yogaśarīrin
yóga--śarīrin [p= 857,2] [L=172541]
(one) whose body is Yoga MBh.
(H3) mfn.


yogapatha
yóga--patha [p= 857,1] [L=172433] m. the road leading to Yoga
(H3) 

yogayukti
yóga--yukti [p= 857,1] [L=172481]
the being absorbed in yoga Ka1s3i1Kh.
(H3) f.

yoganidrā
yóga--nidrā [p= 857,1] [L=172422]
" meditation-sleep " , a state of half meditation half sleep (which admits of the full exercise of the mental powers ; it is peculiar to devotees) , light sleep , (esp.) the sleep of viṣṇu at the end of a yuga , viṣṇu's Sleep personified as a goddess and said to be a form of durgā MBh. Ragh. &c
857,1] [L=172423]
accord. to others) the great sleep of brahmā during the period between the annihilation and reproduction of the universe MW.
(H3) f.
[p= (


yogaśabda
yóga--śabda [p= 857,2] [L=172539]
the word yoga Sarvad.
857,2] [L=172540]
Ka1s3.
(H3) m.
[p= a word the meaning of which is plain from the etymology

yogasāra
yóga--sāra [p= 857,2] [L=172555]
or n. (?) a universal remedy Ga1rud2aP. Bhpr.
857,2] [L=172556]
of sev. works.
(H3) m.
[p= N.


yogavāha
yóga--vāha [p= 857,2] [L=172513]
w.r. for a-y° q.v. VPra1t.
yóga--vāhī [p= 857,2] [L=172514]
alkali L.
yóga--vāhī [p= 857,2] [L=172515]
honey L.
yóga--vāhī [p= 857,2] [L=172516]
quicksilver L.
(H3) m.
(H3B) f.
(H3B) f.
(H3B) f.



yogavid
yóga--vid [p= 857,2] [L=172523]
knowing the right means or proper method , knowing what is fit or suitable Hariv. R. &c
857,2] [L=172524]
yoga MBh. BhP. &c
yóga--vid [p= 857,2] [L=172525]
N. of śiva S3ivag.
yóga--vid [p= 857,2] [L=172526]
a follower of the Yoga doctrines
yóga--vid [p= 857,2] [L=172527]
a practiser of abstract meditation
yóga--vid [p= 857,2] [L=172528]
a magician
yóga--vid [p= 857,2] [L=172529]
a compounder of medicines W.
(H3) mfn.
[p= conversant with the
(H3B) m.
(H3B) m.
(H3B) m.
(H3B) m.
(H3B) m.


yogabhāvanā
yóga--bhāvanā [p= 857,1] [L=172452]
(in alg.) composition of numbers by the sum of the products Col.
(H3) f.


pratiyoga

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

Katha1s.

W.

ib.

(H3) 

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