What Are Yogas?

Combination lock
Image by Thomas Milne via Flickr

The word yoga has entered household use all around the globe. It is a Sanskrit word, of Vedic origin. It means linking together, combining. That might not be what most people expect yoga to mean. The majority of people think of yoga as a mental and physical health system. Others think of it as some sort of spiritual path. How can the word mean linking together?

The Vedic idea is that the individual soul, you and I, is an eternal fragment of the supreme soul, “God.” Currently we are experiencing various degrees of suffering mixed with happiness of a sort, because we have lost our link to the supreme soul. Regaining that link is what yoga refers to. One of the six Vedic schools of thought bears the title “Yoga” because it guides us on eight major steps for recovering our link to the divine. One of the steps is to keep the body healthy by various asanas (postures), another step is to make the mind calm and peaceful by meditation. Thus yoga has become known as a way to achieve physical and mental well being. The goal of this wellbeing is to aid in reestablishing one’s link with the divine.

The Vedas also use word yoga in astrological context. In fact, astrology is all about how the planets, houses and signs link up and combine with one another. These links and combinations are “yogas.”

The “Moon in Taurus” is a simple astrological yoga, for example. In it we see a planet (the Moon) forming a link with a sign (Taurus). The Vedic authors give lots of symbolic images to help us understand the result of this simple yoga.

The “Moon in Taurus, in the Fifth House” is a slightly more complicated astrological yoga because it links together three factors: a planet (The Moon), a sign (Taurus) and a house (the Fifth House). Some yogas get very complex, linking together five, six, or more different factors.

Although everything in your birth chart is a yoga of some sort. When we specifically say, “let’s discuss your yogas” we are talking about the particular yogas that the classical Vedic authors have defined and given symbolic imagery to elucidate.

– Vic DiCara