Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

2013 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Gellman, J. Rick Turner


Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_621


Yoga is an ancient tradition originating in India and is derived from a Sanskrit word meaning “to yoke” or “to unite” (Desikachar, 1999). In Western culture, yoga is considered a form of physical activity and, more recently, a mind-body intervention designed to support overall health and well-being. In its full expression, yoga integrates three basic components: breath (pranayama), physical poses (asanas), and meditation (dhyana).



Yogic philosophy traces back to 3000 BCE, with roots spanning four periods known as the Vedic (2000–600 BC), Preclassical (600–200 BC), Classical (200 BC), and Postclassical periods (Feuerstein, 2001). The Preclassical period is associated with the emergence of the Upanishads (200 texts influencing Hindu philosophy) and the creation of the Bhagavad Gita, considered to be among yoga’s oldest written texts. It was during this time that the foundations of meditation and the concept of samadhi(a path to enlightenment) surfaced...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA