As yoga becomes increasingly diffuse and diverse, a single, common definition that can be agreed upon by everyone is all but impossible. Complicating matters further, the term yoga has been in use for several thousand years and has shifted in meaning many times. Since my primarily concern is the modern interpretation of the physical practices of yoga, it is there that we will look for our definition.
The word yoga comes from Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language. It is a derivation of the word yuj, which means yoking, as in a team of oxen. In contemporary practice, this is often interpreted as meaning union. Yoga is said to be for the purpose of uniting the mind, body, and spirit.