Yoga (/ˈjɡə/;[1]Sanskrit: योग; About this soundpronunciation) is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India. Yoga is one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophical traditions.[2][3] There is a broad variety of yoga schools, practices, and goals[4] in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.[5][6][7] The term “yoga” in the Western world often denotes Hatha yoga, a physical practice of postures called asanas.

The origins of yoga have been speculated to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions; it is mentioned in the Rigveda,3 but most likely developed around the sixth and fifth centuries BCE,[9] in ancient India’s ascetic and śramaṇa movements.[10]4 The chronology of earliest texts describing yoga-practices is unclear, varyingly credited to Upanishads.[11] The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali date from the first half of the 1st millennium CE,[12][13] but only gained prominence in the West in the 20th century.[14] Hatha yoga texts emerged around the 11th century with origins in tantra.[15][16]

Yoga gurus from India later introduced yoga to the West,[17] following the success of Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th and early 20th century.[17] In the 1980s, yoga became popular as a system of physical exercise across the Western world.[16] Yoga in Indian traditions, however, is more than physical exercise; it has a meditative and spiritual core.[18] One of the six major orthodox schools of Hinduism is also called Yoga, which has its own epistemology and metaphysics, and is closely related to Hindu Samkhya philosophy.[19]

Many studies have tried to determine the effectiveness of yoga as a complementary intervention for cancer, schizophrenia, asthma, and heart disease.[20][21] The results of these studies have been mixed and inconclusive.[20][21] On December 1, 2016, yoga was listed by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage.[22]

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