“The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root “Yuj,” meaning to join.” (Abhedânanda, S., 1902)
Swami Abhedânanda goes on to say, though, that there are many definitions of this one word which relate to various branches of “art, science, psychology, philosophy and religion”.
Here are a few descriptions of yoga written by various Hindu authors, shared by Swami Abhedânanda in How to be a Yogi (1902).
Notice in Swami Abhedânanda’s definition, he uses the words to join, suggesting it is an action or a movement toward a person, place or thing. He goes on to say that the English word “yoke” is of the same root.
Essentially, yoga is a word to describe the physical actions and disciplines of an individuals religion, taking personal religion beyond merely attitudes and beliefs, (potentially) leading to union with God.
Religion can be more than just intellectualism and theory, or attitudes and beliefs (and it’s much more than a systematic institution). Religion can be so much more than what I do (or don’t do) on the Sabbath day. My devotion to God shouldn’t only take place on one out of seven days (otherwise it’s not devotion). To truly enjoy the blessing of religion, I need to do more than just think or read about God.
Yoga is a lifestyle.
It is a way of creating space within myself, to invite God into my daily life.
It is the way by which I live His light and truth.