What is Yoga? (A Yogi’s Guide) Purpose and More | By Sadhguru

The word yoga means means “union” or “to merge“. More than a set of physical postures or exercises, Sadhguru defines yoga as a science to determine the nature of who you are and what you want to be.

Scientific research has shown today that the fundamentals of the brain’s activity, inner chemistry, and genetic predispositions can be changed by practicing specific yoga systems. Yoga is essentially a technology to change the shape of who you are.

Sadhguru says, “Yoga means not just about twisting your body; not about standing on your head; not about holding your breath; all these things a circus artist can do better than most yogis.”

So what is this yoga? Let’s find it. You will enjoy this.

So, Are you ready? Yes? Let’s read.

What yoga actually means

Sadhguru: You must understand that yoga is the destination, but somewhere along the way, the process itself got named yoga.

The process has many names, which has sunk into the background. What is the destination has become the name of the process today.

Yoga is not about postures; it is just a minuscule aspect of yoga. Yoga means in your experience, everything has become one.


If you bend and twist your body, we would call those asanas today that we refer to as Yoga.

Hundred-and-twelve basic ways but millions of tools which have evolved out of these fundamentals every one of them today is known as Yoga.

It’s like if you go to the private bus station in Coimbatore, you will see somebody will be saying, “Bangalore, Bangalore, Bangalore!” You say, “Where?” He’ll show you the bus.

He means this bus goes to Bangalore. Just like that, the vehicles or the tools have become Yoga.

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Origin of Yoga

Origin  of yogaPin
Sadhguru| YouTube

It is given that the practice of Yoga was started during the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. It was first mentioned in Rig Veda, a collection of texts that consisted of rituals, mantras, and songs which was mainly used by Brahmans, the Vedic priests.

He talks in a confusing way but if you’ll read it carefully you will be able to understand what he wants to say. He narrate it as a story.

Sadhguru: 15000 years ago a yogi appeared in the upper regions of Himalayas.

Nobody knew where he came from, his antecedence were completely unknown.

So people gathered around him because he was such a phenomenal presence. A large group of people gathered like this.

They expected him to say something, do something – he did nothing, he said nothing, simply he sat.

If I simply sat here for two hours, I can imagine within fifteen minutes those people in the last few rows (Gestures) (Laughter), and they will slowly “Still there is time for the cinema, let’s go.”

If I said nothing for two hours, ninety percent of the people will be gone.

If I said nothing for six hours, only a few hardcore ones will hang on, rest are all gone. Same happened to him.

He said nothing, did nothing, simply sat still. Not for a day, not for a week, for months on end he simply sat still.

Everybody was expecting a miracle nothing happened, he just sat.

But they were missing a most fundamental miracle because the nature of your body is such right now, you are well attended to.

You had lunch in the afternoon and maybe you snacked in the evening, and so that you don’t fall asleep you had a coffee and maybe you have something in your bag (Laughs), so many things.

All these things are being attended to, so this (Referring to one’s body) is fine.

Suppose we just make you sit here for four hours – “Sadhguru at least some water?”

“Okay, drink water.” After drinking water can we just sit here?

“Sadhguru (Gestures as if asking permission to go for peeing)” (Laughter) that one – “Okay do that and come.”

“Sadhguru (Gestures as if asking permission to eat)” – okay, if we give this, the next one no permission (Gestures dozing off) (Laughter).

This will just go. Or in other words what you call as a body is a series of processes. Only if you’re attending to them, it’s fine.

If you don’t attend to it then you see what a trouble it is. When you do not attend to the body if you are hungry or why all that people say how long one minute is depends on which side of the bathroom door you are.

From inside somebody says “just one minute”, outside it’s one eon (Laughter), okay?

Because this is the nature of the body- if you do not attend to it, it’ll become so compulsive and get you into such big trouble.

But here he just sat, he neither ate nor drank water nor went to attend to nature’s calls, simply he sat still.

People could not even make out whether he is alive or dead. The only sign of life was off and on tears of ecstasy were dribbling down his cheeks, otherwise he simply sat unmoving.

Then only seven people hung on. They realised the miracle of him sitting here like this because if he has to sit here like this he has transcended physical nature, otherwise you cannot sit like this.

These seven people hung on today we celebrate these seven people as the Sapta Rishis. These were his first disciples of the Adiyogi (Applause).

So this Adiyogi just sat there, these seven people showed interest, he told them, “This is not for you, this is not entertainment” but they said, “No, we’re willing to do anything.”

He gave them a few preparatory steps, they prepared for many years. Then one day when the solstice was shifting just now we shifted from summer solstice to winter solstice on December 22nd.

It’ll again happen on June 21st and this coming June 21st is significant, significant for the world because this is the day when Adiyogi first gave his turned south and gave his teaching because the sun turned south, he turned south and started explaining the mechanics of being human.

On this day fortunately the world… the United Nations has declared the World Yoga Day because yoga began on that day (Applause).

This incredible process of exploring the human mechanics went into the process.

This predates all religion when there was no religion on the planet, 15000 years ago he went into the mechanics of what it means to be human and various aspects happened.

He opened up one hundred and twelve different ways in which a human being can attain to his ultimate nature.

And when people asked, especially his wife Parvati asked, “Why not more, why only hundred and twelve?”

Then he said, “If you are rooted in the body, there are only hundred and twelve possibilities. If you transcend the body how many atoms there are in this universe, that many doorways are there if you’re willing to explore it. But if you are rooted in this body, there are only one hundred and twelve ways”

And the whole yogic system subscribes to this even today because nobody has found more ways.

Any number of yogis have explored in a million different ways but there is no other doorway.

In this body there are hundred and twelve ways into which you get there.

So for this how to generate this, how to make this (Referring to oneself) work the way you want it?

So this whole mechanics he started Adiyogi explored for many years and he gave this elaborate knowledge to the world and then asked these seven people to go in seven different directions in the world.

One went to Central Asia, another went to North Africa, another went to South America, another went to Southeast Asia, one came down to what we call as the Indian part of Himalayas, one stayed with him, and one more who is very important for us, Agastya Muni came down south.

He is known as the father of Southern mysticism because he did not spare a single human habitation south of the Vindhyas in the Deccan Plateau he made sure every single human being who lived in this place had some sense of spiritual process.

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What is Yoga and Why Yoga

Sadhguru: Of all the things in the world, of all the things that a human being can do, why yoga? Everything that human beings can do is essentially an expression of who they are.

Somebody sings a song somebody dances, somebody writes a book, somebody paints a picture.

Whatever else we do, is an expression of who you are.

You may be conscious of it, you may be unconscious of it but still everything that you say, everything that you do, everything that comes out of you is essentially an expression of who you are.

So yoga, in that way is diametrically opposite to this because it’s not an expression of who you are; it’s about determining as to who you are.

It’s about determining as to what you want to be, changing the very fundamentals of one’s existence.

Today there is substantial medical and scientific evidence to show that the very fundamentals of the activity of your brain, your chemistry, even your genetic content can be changed by practicing different systems of yoga.

This needed no confirmation because we have always witnessed this, but today there is scientific data to prove this.

So this is not an expression of who you are; this is about determining the nature of who you wish to be, changing the fundamental ingredients which has made you who you are.

So yoga as a system, needs much more involvement than any other things that one.. any other…other forms of things that we do which are merely an expression of who we are.

If you find full expression through any particular activity, it may also leave you somewhat transformed.

If you cook with all your heart, some transformation may happen.

Yes. Taking care of a cow can change your life, you know?

If you sing with all your heart, some transformation may happen.

If you dance with all your heart, some transformation may happen.

But that is only a certain impact that is happening because of absolute involvement in a particular activity.

But essentially that activity by nature is an expression of who you are, it is not determining the nature of who you are.

So when we transform our activity, not as an expression of who we are, ’cause who wants to find expression like this in the morning?

(Laughs) Definitely not, isn’t it?

So, it is not an expression, it is a method, it is a means, it’s a technology through which you can change the shape of who you are; literally also, otherwise also.

You can change the very shape of who you really are right now, that can be transformed because who you are right now as a person, is a combination of things – genetic material, before that the karmic substance that you carry; because of that you chose a certain womb, so the genetic material and since the moment you’re born, whatever kind of impressions that have gone into you in the form of variety of experiences, situations, thoughts, emotions, relationships, associations, whatever else you have imbibed, all these things make you a certain kind of person.

When you say, ‘I am a certain kind of person,’ what you are saying is, ‘I have this kind of compulsions.’

When you say, ‘I’m this kind of person,’ what you’re saying is, ‘This is the kind of compulsions that I identify myself with, so I am this kind of a person.’

People, you know It’s a very western thing but it’s very much there in India today, ‘cause lot of Indians are far more western than West. You know, if you go all the way west, you come back to India, so they are much more western than Westerners are today.

So people say, ‘I’m a morning person.

I’m a evening person.’

So what they mean is, ‘Morning, I cannot wake up in the morning, that means I’m a evening person.’ ‘I can’t stay awake in the evening, so I’m a morning person.’ Not only that, people it’s going far, you know, some are Blackberry people, some are Apple people. It’s all getting… world is getting divided into so many ways.

They’re not just instruments that you use and keep it down, you get identified with it. So there are chapatti people, there are rice people, there are dosa people, there are idli people, you know, all kinds. So what kind you are is essentially a certain type of compulsions.

Sadhguru: So you set yourself into the process of yoga because you don’t want to be this kind or that kind – that you will be the kind that you’re required to be in a particular moment.

If it’s morning, you’re a morning person. If it’s evening you’re a evening person.

If you’re not required to be a person, you’re not a person. That is, you become flexible.

This flexibility we start working with your body to start with.

Afterwards it should come to every aspect of your life.

Your physical structure, your psychological structure, your emotional structure, your karmic structure, everything should become flexible, that it can be whatever it is required to be, it is not stuck being this way or that way.

So, yoga as a process, yoga as a method, yoga as a technology, yoga as a science is essentially to break the limitations of a certain concretization that happens, which we call as personality.

To evolve from being a person to a presence.

If you’re a person, that means you have made a shell out of yourself.

You formed a shell – within that shell only you can operate.

If you break the shell, you will no more be a person but simply a presence, as life is, as God is, just a presence.

If it can be encased in a shell, it becomes a person.

So yoga means slowly you’re working on making this shell thinner and thinner, more and more porous, that one day you can exist without a shell.

So essentially, in your experience, yoga means morning…(Gestures) Why the sadhana the way it is, is.. All aspects of physicality are cyclical in the universe.

Planets are going around the sun, the solar system are moving, everything in the galaxy in the cosmos is cyclical.

The more and more you’re identified with your physical system, the more and more cyclical you are also.

Your experiences are cyclical; the process of life is cyclical.

If you watch carefully enough, even the situations that you face in your life come in cycles.

So yoga means, on one level to break the cycle of life.

What is a circle right now, we want to open it up and make it a straight line.

Because if you are going in circles, if I say you’re going in circles what does it mean to you?

You’re not going anywhere. It just gives you an impression that you’re going somewhere but you’re not really going anywhere, you’re going through the same thing again and again.

So yoga means to open up the circle and stretch it out like a straight line, that if you follow the line you go somewhere, you’re not going round and round.

Many of you may have already experimented and noticed.

If you have not, do not experiment because I’ll give you the results of the experiment right now.

You might have been doing sadhana for two years, three years, five years. Stop your sadhana for three months, suddenly you will see so many compulsions that you never imagined were a part of you, which were long time gone, suddenly they will all become a part of you.

But those who are doing their sadhana properly, they eat in the morning, they don’t think of food till evening.

It doesn’t occur because it’s no more a compulsion.

If you eat, it’s consciously you eat; otherwise no.

You stop your sadhana for three months and see; your hands will just grab just about anything and put it in the mouth.

These compulsions will suddenly come back If you just break the sadhana, because nature is not going to release you so simply.

You have to work at it and work at it and work at it; otherwise you must be happy doing the circle.

A circle also can be described as a circus.

If you become conscious, the whole thing looks like a circus.

If you are not conscious, you can only see three feet in front of you, then it’s all real.

If you can see the whole circle of your life, suddenly it becomes like a circus.

Once you realize this circus, you don’t want to go through the circus again and again.

Only if your vision is too limited, you can see only three feet in front of you, everything is real for you.

If you open up and see the whole circle the way you’re going, it looks like a circus and definitely you don’t want it to continue forever, you want to do something about it.

So these cycles, these repetitive cycles of compulsiveness is coming because there are various types of memories in the system.

Memories, karmic memories Information essentially means memory, isn’t it? Do you understand what I’m saying?

Tch Any information means memory, isn’t it? How do you carry information?

Only by memory, there is no other way. Either in your head or in a chip or in a computer, it doesn’t matter, you can carry information only by memory, there is no other way any information can stay anywhere.

So there’s a huge volume of memory, karmic memory, genetic memory, mental and psychological memory, every kind.

If this memory was not there, your body wouldn’t even take a form.

Your body knows that it has to take this form, when you were in your mother’s womb, so many billions of people on the planet, everybody took this form, two legs, two hands, two eyes, like this.

If the memory was not there, we do not know what form it would have taken. It never ever happened that a woman delivered an elephant or a insect or something else.

It never ever happened, because there is memory. If the memory is not there, this could have taken on any form.

So you have retained your physical form the way it is only because of memory. Memory means past. Yes?

Memory means always that which is past. If memory is the only thing, if information that you carry, which is memory, is the only thing which determines the nature of who you are right now, that means you are past or life is past you.

There is no real life; it’s just a play of memory. If you go and watch a cinema (In Tamil: What? Rajini Kanth? (Referring to a famous Tamil Actor)) If the cinema happens it’s so big and so real, more real than the real, it becomes a bigger reality than reality because it’s so exaggerated.

But all this is just memory being played out. It’s recorded in a film or a digital format or whichever way, it’s just memory, it’s already over

Sadhguru: So even in your mind, your thoughts, your emotions, your compulsions as to what you like, what you don’t like, whom you love, whom you don’t love, this is all by memory, isn’t it?

It’s already past. Yesterday you loved somebody, with that memory you’re living today. Yesterday you disliked somebody, with that memory you’re living today.

So you’re trying to live that which is over. If you try to live that which is over, that which ‘is’ will bypass you.

Yoga means to liberate yourself from that information which determines who I am right now.

That information which determines the color of my skin, that information which determines the shape of my body, that information should not determine how I think, how I feel, how I experience my life, but unfortunately it is.

So if you become like this, that that information does not determine how you are right now, then you are moving into yoga.

So daily, working, daily morning sadhana is just this to slowly, gradually, to create that distance from that information.

You don’t have to lose it. People say, ‘I want to forget.’ If you forget you will once again do the same idiotic things all over again.

Never ever forget. The more unpleasant your life has been, the more you should never forget. If you forget, you will do the same stupid things all over again.

This is not about forgetfulness, but being able to carry. See suppose, today you have memory sticks, if it’s all the time plugged in and all of it playing, you’ll go crazy.

You can carry it in your pocket, no problem. When you want you stick it in your computer, otherwise you put it in your pocket, this is good, no problem.

Memory is still there but not compulsively working through you. When you want, consciously you can activate it; otherwise it lies there.

So if this becomes like this, if you want you can activate all of it; otherwise you can keep it aside. Then once that freedom comes, memory is not a problem.

But right now memory is a problem because it’s playing up all the time. Yesterday’s love, yesterday’s dislike, everything is determined who you are today.

It will not allow you to experience what is today, it will not allow you any possibility of life, it will just keep on… you’re like a broken record, just going on the same thing.

I dislike this person, I dislike this person, I dislike this person. Only yesterday you disliked him; today it’s not necessary to dislike him.

Yesterday he was doing something, we disliked him. There is no need to dislike him today, but the memory is playing up and saying, ‘I dislike him, I dislike him.’

Whether you like him or dislike him, both ways it is an old record playing, which will not allow you any perception.

Unless you begin to perceive life in larger and larger doses, there is really no experience of life, just mind playing over and over, same record.

So yoga means breaking this cycle and nature will not release you from that just like that.

It needs a certain amount of work. If you want to be just like that released, then you have to release yourself from the body itself.

Staying in the body, which is the way it is only because of its memory and not being a part of that memory.

It is the foundations of information that we carry which has constructed this body the way it is – to live in it and not to be of it, will not come easy.

I’m not saying it’s difficult, but it needs to be worked at.

The sadhana is just about this. However simple the sadhana is, every day if it is worked at, slowly one can see a certain level of freedom happening within you step-by-step; maybe inch-by-inch, maybe micro-millimeter by micro-millimeter but nobody can say it is not releasing you.

It will slowly release you. If you want to go rapidly, a lot more to do. You don’t mind going slowly, something to do.

Before we jump into another topic if you are enjoying this then please share Sadhguru’s knowledge with the world. Thanks in advance 🙂

Also Read- Here is God

Purpose of Yoga

Sadhguru| YouTube

(In the above article we learned what is yoga and why to do yoga. Now Sadhguru is going to discuss the “Purpose of yoga”. Sadhguru looks at the true purpose of yoga and explains how health, peace, and joy are only the side benefits, not the true goal of yoga. He elaborates on the immense capabilities that lie untapped in every human being, which can be uncovered if explored the inner dimensions of the human being..)

Sadhguru: Because what is human is not an established state. It is a possibility. It is not a fixed state.

If this possibility has to be made use of, there is a whole system of understanding that needs to happen.

Understanding the mechanics of how this life functions and what we can do with it.

These mechanics, this technology, this science, we are referring to as yoga.

I don’t know what types of stuff you’re doing but my experience in the United States particularly in California, a lot of people believe yoga started in California. (Laughter) Yes. (Laughs)

I met somebody who seriously believed it was Madonna who started yoga. (Laughs) Yes. (Laughter) So this mechanics of life is as simple as this.

I am sure almost all of you are carrying an instrument, some kind of electronic instrument, a phone at least, the more you know about this phone, the better you can use it, is that so?

Last year, the cell phone companies in India made a survey. India is the largest cell phone growing market for telecommunications right now.

Every month we are adding about five and a half million cell phones. Okay. In a year, about sixty million cell phones are being added to the service because everybody is having three, four, five these days (Laughs) They made a survey (Laughter) that’s a second one, you haven’t read the first one.

They made a survey and they have found out that ninety-seven percent of the people are using only seven percent of the capabilities that are there in an ordinary phone.

I am not talking about the smartphone. I am talking about the dumb phone. In the dumb phone, ninety-seven percent of the people are using only seven percent of its capabilities.

So they were contemplating, if we remove ninety percent of the electronics, still most people will never know.

And we can even give them a five hundred rupee discount. They will be happy; we will happy, you know.

Maybe they have already taken it off, we don’t know. Only if you try to use all of them, all the functions, then you realize something is not working.

So in a little gadget, you are using only seven percent. This(Referring to oneself humans) is the gadget.

Every damn gadget has come out of this. How much percentage, do you think, are you employing this gadget(Here Sadhguru pointing our body)?

Just make a guess. Hmm? How much percentage?

Two, five, you are being very generous to yourself. (Laughter)

It’s well below one percent , because, for your survival process to conduct your life in the material world, you do not even need one percent of what this is.

This is capable of perceiving the whole cosmos. If you prepare it properly, if you hold it, it’s like an antenna.

If you hold it in the right position, it can just grasp everything in the existence. It is just that we are doing all kinds of things with it because right now our whole perception of life is limited to the physical nature of the existence.

Physical is like the peel of the fruit. It has no purpose of its own. In the sense, if you have a fruit, the moment you eat the fruit, the peel goes straight to the trash can, isn’t it?

The peel is only a package. Only because the fruit is valuable, the package is important. Right now as you sit here, this body is very important.

You have to feed this; you have to clothe this; you have to decorate this; you have to pamper this in so many ways.

Tomorrow morning, that something inside which you never experienced, if that goes away, nobody wants to have any business with this. Yes?

Only because the fruit is inside, this peel has become very valuable.

Now yoga means not just about twisting your body; not about standing on your head; not about holding your breath; all these things a circus artist can do better than most yogis.

Really, yes or no? You don’t think so?

A circus artist can do far better than most yogis in terms of twisting the body, doing this, doing that, holding different positions.

That is not the purpose of yoga. Unfortunately, if you utter the word yoga, people think you have to be in some impossible posture.

Yoga is not about postures; it is just a minuscule aspect of yoga. Yoga means in your experience, everything has become one. The word yoga means union.

What is the union? What can unite with what?

As you sit here, your idea and your sense and your experience of who you are are very strong. You are here as an individual.

But what the trees are exhaling right now, you are inhaling; what you are exhaling, the trees are inhaling. Or in other words, one half of your lung is hanging up there. Yes or no?

This is not just in terms of breath. Today modern physics is proving to you, that as you sit here, every sub atomic particle in your body is in constant transaction with everything else in the existence.

If this transaction stops, you will cease to exist. So yoga means to know it by experience.

Modern science is proving to you the whole existence is just one energy. The religions of the world have been screaming for a long time that God is everywhere; whether you say God is everywhere or you say everything is one energy, are we talking about the same reality or a different reality?

God is everywhere, everything is the same energy, are we talking about the same reality or a different reality? Same reality. Yes!

It is just that a scientist has never experienced this. He has arrived at it through mathematical equations.

A religious person has not experienced this. He believes it because it is written somewhere or it is said by somebody.

If you are a hard case, that you are not willing to settle for equation or belief systems then you become a yogi, yes, if you are a very hard nut, you want to know it yourself, then you become a yogi.

You want to know the union of the existence; you want to know the oneness of what it is; not believing it. Like you experience the five fingers of your hand, if you can experience everything around you, then we say you are in yoga.

Now, it,s your turn, you can help us by sharing this knowledge. Thanks in advance.


Joy 24×7 is a very simple but unusual exploration of Joy. There is no religion in this book. There are no rituals prescribed here. There is no deep meditation being described here and neither is there any mention to any spiritual practice.This is not a guidebook. This is not a “self-help” book. It is not going to give you “an instant formula for joy”. But it will surely make you explore your Joy for yourself in a very direct way

No matter who you are, what you are trying to do, Sad guru’s words will touch a wonderful wave of Joy inside you and you will soon be restless to seek Joy 24×7.


"When doubts haunt me when disappointments stare me in the face, and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to Bhagavad-Gita and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. This book has the power to change your life, because it changed mine. 

Through this book, not only does Sadhguru explain what Karma is and how we can use its concepts to enhance our lives, he also tells us about the Sutras, a step-by-step guide to navigating our way in this challenging world. In the process, we get a deeper, richer understanding of life and the power to craft our destinies.

 Developed by Sadhguru over several years, this powerful practice serves to align the mind and the body with energies around and within, creating a world of limitless power and possibilities. Inner Engineering is your own software for joy and well-being.

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