And there is a perfectly understandable reason for this: it is meant to be experienced rather than discussed, much like describing the taste of a strawberry when the only way to know the taste - is to taste it! But chances are, even those without a traditional practice, already have yoga in their lives, just by another name.
The Sanskrit word “yoga” is often translated to mean “bind together,” but also “union” and “integration into a whole.” Sanskrit is an Indo-European language and the word yoga shares the same Latin root word jug, from which we derive in English “yoke” (like with oxen).
The most comprehensive definition of yoga based on the original ancient texts, that I have found, is:
“Any technique, meditation or method that implies the breaking of worldly bonds to achieve union in the spiritual realm.”
In his scholarly classic, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, Mircea Eliade expands on his definition above as a transcendent experience and outlines over 40 different kinds of yoga in the Indian tradition alone, none of which are mutually exclusive in any way – these are simply paths, methods and there are many paths up the mountain, so to speak.
One form of yoga that you may have heard of is “Hatha” yoga, which is the original term for the physical form of yoga that includes asanas (postures, positions). Pretty much, any yoga class you go to in a studio is Hatha Yoga, and there are many styles of Hatha Yoga (Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Iyengar, Kundalini, Yin et alia). But other forms of yoga include Karma Yoga (Unselfish Acts), Meditation, Mantra, Tantra, Bhakti (Devotion/Love) etc.
You likely already practice a form of yoga, as it is found in virtually all spiritual traditions that identify with transcendence, i.e. identifying an existence beyond the physical realm. Prayer is a perfect example – this can be paralleled to a form a meditation when seeking communion with that which is beyond you, or Bhakti (devotion). Reciting the Rosary might be considered a form of meditation and mantra. Zakat, charitable giving, volunteering all could fall under the same category as Karma yoga.
So, do you already have a “yoga” practice? What might it be? Can you tell me how a strawberry tastes?