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Yog(Punjabi: ਜੋਗ) means to Unite. It is derived from Sanskrit word yuj; having its equivalent in Latin as jugum; in Gothic as juk; in German as jock; is the equivalent of yoke in English. It refers to yoking or harnessing of mind in order to cultivate higher knowledge or paravidya, the result of those psychical and physical processes which are employed to discover man’s supreme inner essence through samadhi.

Samadhi being the ultimate stage, certain other ascetic practices precede it in the different varieties of Yoga such as Mantra, Hatha, Laya and Rajyoga. Rajyoga or eight-limbed (astang) yoga is based on Patanjali’s Yogasutras which are further rooted in the metaphysics of Sankhya system, sometimes held to be a pre-Aryan postulation. It is generally held that various yoga practices were in vogue before Patanjali who codified the scattered sutras into one treatise which later came to be known as Yogasutras, an authoritative critique on Yoga. Whether this Patanjali is the same man Patanjali, the grammarian, is a problem which still awaits solution. The constant activity of the mind being the major obstacle to realization, the Yoga has been defined as silencing of the mental ripplings—yoga chittvrtti nirodha.

In the Bhagavadgita, various aspects of the term yoga such as karmayoga, jnanayoga, and bhakti yoga have been taken into account. Aurobindo saw a new vision and possibility of advancement in spiritual life through yoga. In view of the complete transformation of the ‘being’ wherein all the yogas are taken into consideration for reaching the superamental level, he calls his yoga as the integral yoga.

Equanimity of mind can be attained through different ways. On the basis of the degree of renunciation and control of body, yoga has been generally classified under four major heads: Mantra yoga, Hatha yoga, Layayoga and Raja yoga. But these four or many other types of yoga are not totally compartmentalized spheres. They are rather closely linked and overlap one another. Though yoga is a system which has a vast scope and variety yet the popularly known yoga is Hathayoga which professes the control of the different systems of the gross body in order to attain mastery over the subtle body.

In Mantra yoga this creation is held to be namrupatmak (full of names and forms) which is required to be deduced into one idea with the help of the mantras and then by entering into that idea the yogi can reach the final cause of the universe. Hindu scriptural science and idol worship much depend on this Mantrayoga. In Layayoga certain pressure points under the names of chakras are identified and the kundalini lying in the base lotus is harnessed to reach the last lotus, the sahasrar, situated in the uppermost region of the skull. This meeting of Sakti with the Siva in the skull is held to be conducive to the Mahalaya samadhi which is the aim of Layayoga. In hathayoga, gross-body-oriented exercises are undertaken and then the subtle body is mastered which being devoid of all filths of worldly passions comes face to face with the Supreme Reality. The chief practices of hathayoga are six practices (sat karmas), asana, mudra, pratyahara, pranayama, dhyana and samadhi. Analytical wisdom is the main force to be realized in Rajyoga, in which ripplings of the mind are to be silenced with the help of yama (don’ts), niyama (do’s), asana (posture), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (control and withdrawal of senses), dhyana (contemplation), dharana (meditation) and samadhi (superconscious absorption).

Yoga has much to do with a diseaseless body so that hard penances and physical exercises may be undertaken. Yogasutras being the authoritative work on yoga, other popular treatises on yoga are: Goraksa Satak by Gorakhnath, Hathayoga Pradipika by Svatmarama, Gheranda Samhita by Gheranda, a Vaisnavite ascetic of Bengal and Siva Samhita, a tantric text.

Sikhism rejects the traditional forms and practices of yoga and teaches its followers the blessings of intense love and reverence for God. It teaches the brotherhood of mankind. Like true karmayogis, all Sikh Gurus led very active lives without any attachment to this world. Before the advent of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh, many distortions of Patanjali’s Yogasutras and Hathayoga Pradipika had been in vogue. By the time of the Gurus, yoga had been reduced to a mere instrument of earning sidhis and intimidating others in order to multiply the number of the followers. The Sikh Gurus have used the terminology of yoga in their verses and recognized the utility of self-realization but the methodology prescribed by them is that of nam-simaran, remembrance and praise of God rather than self-mortification. Gurbani primarily aims at the welfare of mankind. In Jabala Upanisad, Goraksa Satak and Hathayoga Pradipika, we do come across a detailed account of body-based six chakras, sixteen bases, nine doors, pranayama besides different types of vital air. Many hints about these ingredients of yoga are available in the Guru Granth Sahib also, but according to the Gurus, first of all, man is required to become gurmukh in order to unravel the mysteries of the universe and bear the unstruck sound of the word after rising above the nine outlets. A spiritually blind man cannot remove the dirt of the mind even with frequent baths and mortificational yogic exercises (GG, 1343[1]). Guru Nanak says that observance of six-fold actions, Vedas, Samrti, reading of Sastras, yogic exercises and pilgrimage are useless and this can push an adherent into hell if he does not enshrine love of God in his heart (GG, 1124[2]). Guru Gobind Singh also pays court to this fact in the Akal Ustat included in the Dasam Granth.

A description of six chakras exists in Gurbani. There is also reference in it to the “upside down” lotus. When this “upside down” lotus blooms, God realization takes place (GG, 108[3]). Guru Nanak says that this lotus blooms when all the four kinds of fire — violence, selfishness, anger and greed — are extinguished by remembering God and the sadhak experiences the ecstasy by drinking nectar of naam. The description of navel-lotus is given in detail in Sidh Gohst where Guru Nanak regards this navel-lotus as the abode of prana vayu, the vital breath. Where yogasutra is based on the metaphysics of the Sankhya, and lays emphasis on the dissociation or the negation of one’s self from the Prakrti or the worldly activities in order to attain the kaivalya or aloneness, the Gurus have accepted the household-life as most fulfilling because only through it one can remain in touch with the world. The attainment of nidhis-sidhis which was the principal aim of the yogis in the medieval period, has also been rejected in Sikhism. Self-realization through devotion and the conquest of ego have been applauded.

Both Yoga and Sikhism are essentially mystical faiths. While Yoga is mysticism without social and cultural roots, Sikhism is firmly embedded in society as well as in the world. A Sikh mystic aspires to spiritual perfection to serve the cause of Truth and God, to justify His ways to men, and to bear testimony to His existence, grace and love.

Gurbani linked to yoga

Raj Yog

Raj Yog is unity with King. In Gurmat, Almighty is designated with King - Koi Hari Samaan Nahi Raaja, Eh Bhoopat Diwas Chaar ke Jhoote karat Niwaja. Following are excerpts from Guru Granth Sahib on Raj Jog:

ਕਟੀਐ ਤੇਰਾ ਅਹੰ ਰੋਗੁ ॥ ਤੂੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ਕਰਿ ਰਾਜ ਜੋਗੁ ॥੧॥
Katī▫ai ṯerā ahaʼn rog. Ŧūʼn gur parsāḏ kar rāj jog. ॥1॥
The disease of your ego shall be eradicated.

By Guru's Grace, practice Raja Yoga, the Yoga of meditation and success.((1))

ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਬਚਨਿ ਕੀਨੋ ਰਾਜੁ ਜੋਗੁ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਤਰਿਆ ਸਭੁ ਲੋਗੁ ॥੫॥
Gur kai bacẖan kīno rāj jog. Gur kai sang ṯari▫ā sabẖ log. ॥5॥
Through the Guru's Word, I practice Raja Yoga, the Yoga of meditation and success.

In the Company of the Guru, all the people of the world are saved.((5))

ਰਾਜਨ ਜੋਗੁ ਕਰਿ ਹਾਂ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਲੋਗ ਅਲੋਗੀ ਰੀ ਸਖੀ ॥੨॥੧॥੧੫੭॥
Rājan jog kar hāʼn. Kaho Nānak log agolī rī sakẖī. ॥2॥1॥157॥
Practice Raja Yoga, the Yoga of meditation and success.

Says Nanak, this is the way to dwell with the people, and yet remain apart from them. ((2)(1)(157))

ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਪਰਤਖਿ ਹੋਦੈ ਬਹਿ ਰਾਜੁ ਆਪਿ ਟਿਕਾਇਆ ॥ ਸਭਿ ਸਿਖ ਬੰਧਪ ਪੁਤ ਭਾਈ ਰਾਮਦਾਸ ਪੈਰੀ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੪॥
Saṯgurū parṯakẖ hoḏai bahi rāj āp tikā▫i▫ā. Sabẖ sikẖ banḏẖap puṯ bẖā▫ī Rāmḏās pairī pā▫i▫ā. ॥4॥
The True Guru Himself sat up, and appointed the successor to the Throne of Raja Yoga, the Yoga of Meditation and Success.

All the Sikhs, relatives, children and siblings have fallen at the Feet of Guru Ram Das.((4))


ਖਸਟੀ ਖਟੁ ਦਰਸਨ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਸਾਜੇ ॥ ਅਨਹਦ ਸਬਦੁ ਨਿਰਾਲਾ ਵਾਜੇ ॥
Kẖastī kẖat ḏarsan parabẖ sāje. Anhaḏ sabaḏ nirālā vāje.
The Sixth Day: God organized the six systems of Yoga. The unstruck sound current of the Shabad vibrates of itself.....

ਸੁਣਿ ਮਾਛਿੰਦ੍ਰਾ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਬੋਲੈ ॥ ਵਸਗਤਿ ਪੰਚ ਕਰੇ ਨਹ ਡੋਲੈ ॥ ਐਸੀ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਜੋਗ ਕਉ ਪਾਲੇ ॥ ਆਪਿ ਤਰੈ ਸਗਲੇ ਕੁਲ ਤਾਰੇ ॥੧॥
Suṇ mācẖẖinḏarā Nānak bolai. vasgaṯ pancẖ kare nah dolai. Aisī jugaṯ jog ka▫o pāle. Āp ṯarai sagle kul ṯāre. ॥1॥
Listen, Machhindra, to what Nanak says. One who subdues the five passions does not waver.

One who practices Yoga in such a way, saves himself, and saves all his generations.((1))

ਸਿਵ ਨਗਰੀ ਮਹਿ ਆਸਣਿ ਬੈਸੈ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੀ ਜੋਗੁ ਪਾਈ ॥੧੧॥ ਧਾਤੁਰ ਬਾਜੀ ਸਬਦਿ ਨਿਵਾਰੇ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਸੈ ਮਨਿ ਆਈ ॥੧੨॥
Siv nagrī mėh āsaṇ baisai gur sabḏī jog pā▫ī. ॥11॥ Ḏẖāṯur bājī sabaḏ nivāre nām vasai man ā▫ī. ॥12॥
Sitting in Yogic postures in the City of God, through the Word of the Guru's Shabad, you shall find Yoga. ((11))

Restrain your restless wanderings through the Shabad, and the Naam will come to dwell in your mind. ((12))

ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰੈ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਰੇ ਸੁੰਦਰਿ ਜੋਗਾਧਾਰੀ ਜੀਉ ॥੩॥
Gur kai sabaḏ marai man māre sunḏar jogāḏẖārī jī▫o. ॥3॥
Through the Word of the Guru's Shabad, conquer and subdue your mind; take the support of Yoga - Union with the beautiful Lord. ((3))

ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਬੀਚਾਰਹਿ ਆਪੁ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਸਾਚ ਜੋਗੁ ਮਨਿ ਵਸੈ ਆਇ ॥੮॥
Gur sabaḏ bīcẖārėh āp jā▫e. Sācẖ jog man vasai ā▫e. ॥8॥
Contemplate the Word of the Guru's Shabad, and be rid of your ego.

True Yoga shall come to dwell in your mind.((8))

ਕਹਨ ਕਹਾਵਨ ਕਉ ਕਈ ਕੇਤੈ ॥ ਐਸੋ ਜਨੁ ਬਿਰਲੋ ਹੈ ਸੇਵਕੁ ਜੋ ਤਤ ਜੋਗ ਕਉ ਬੇਤੈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

ਦੁਖੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਸਭੁ ਸੁਖੁ ਹੀ ਹੈ ਰੇ ਏਕੈ ਏਕੀ ਨੇਤੈ ॥ ਬੁਰਾ ਨਹੀ ਸਭੁ ਭਲਾ ਹੀ ਹੈ ਰੇ ਹਾਰ ਨਹੀ ਸਭ ਜੇਤੈ ॥੧॥

Kahan kahāvan ka▫o ka▫ī keṯai.Aiso jan birlo hai sevak jo ṯaṯ jog ka▫o beṯai. ॥1॥ rahā▫o.

Ḏukẖ nāhī sabẖ sukẖ hī hai re ekai ekī neṯai. Burā nahī sabẖ bẖalā hī hai re hār nahī sabẖ jeṯai. ॥1॥

Many speak and talk about God.

But one who understands the essence of Yoga - such a humble servant is very rare ((1)(Pause))
He has no pain - he is totally at peace. With his eyes, he sees only the One Lord.
No one seems evil to him - all are good. There is no defeat - he is totally victorious. (1))

Science of Yog

ਸੰਤਹੁ ਮਨ ਪਵਨੈ ਸੁਖੁ ਬਨਿਆ ॥ ਕਿਛੁ ਜੋਗੁ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਗਨਿਆ ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Sanṯahu man pavnai sukẖ bani▫ā. Kicẖẖ jog parāpaṯ gani▫ā. Rahā▫o.
O Saints, my windy mind has now become peaceful and still.

It seems that I have learned something of the science of Yoga. ((Pause))

Way of Yog

ਜੋਗ ਸਬਦੰ ਗਿਆਨ ਸਬਦੰ ਬੇਦ ਸਬਦੰ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣਹ ॥ ਖਤ੍ਰੀ ਸਬਦੰ ਸੂਰ ਸਬਦੰ ਸੂਦ੍ਰ ਸਬਦੰ ਪਰਾ ਕ੍ਰਿਤਹ ॥

ਸਰਬ ਸਬਦੰ ਏਕ ਸਬਦੰ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਜਾਣੈ ਭੇਉ ॥ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਤਾ ਕਾ ਦਾਸੁ ਹੈ ਸੋਈ ਨਿਰੰਜਨ ਦੇਉ ॥੩॥

Jog sabḏaʼn gi▫ān sabḏaʼn beḏ sabḏaʼn barāhmaṇėh Kẖaṯrī sabḏaʼn sūr sabḏaʼn sūḏar sabḏaʼn parā kirṯėh

Sarab sabḏaʼn ek sabḏaʼn je ko jāṇai bẖe▫o. Nānak ṯā kā ḏās hai so▫ī niranjan ḏe▫o. ॥3॥

The Way of Yoga is the Way of spiritual wisdom; the Vedas are the Way of the Brahmins.

The Way of the Khshatriya is the Way of bravery; the Way of the Shudras is service to others.
One who knows this secret that the Way of all is the Way of the One;
Nanak is a slave to him, he himself is the Immaculate Divine Lord. ((3))

ਜੋ ਕਿਛੁ ਕੀਓ ਸੋਈ ਭਲ ਮਾਨੈ ਐਸੀ ਭਗਤਿ ਕਮਾਨੀ ॥ ਮਿਤ੍ਰ ਸਤ੍ਰੁ ਸਭ ਏਕ ਸਮਾਨੇ ਜੋਗ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਨੀਸਾਨੀ ॥੨॥
Jo kicẖẖ kī▫o so▫ī bẖal mānai aisī bẖagaṯ kamānī. Miṯar saṯar sabẖ ek samāne jog jugaṯ nīsānī. ॥2॥
Whatever the Lord does, he sees that as good; such is the devotional service he performs.

He sees friends and enemies as all the same; this is the sign of the Way of Yoga. ((2))

ਸਾਚੇ ਜੋਗ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਵੀਚਾਰੀ ਸਾਚੇ ਤਾੜੀ ਲਾਈ ਹੇ ॥੧॥
Sācẖe jog jugaṯ vīcẖārī sācẖe ṯāṛī lā▫ī he. ॥1॥
I contemplate the Way of Yoga, the Way of Union with the True Lord. I am truly absorbed in the primal void of deep meditation. ((1))

ਪੰਚ ਮਾਰਿ ਚਿਤੁ ਰਖਹੁ ਥਾਇ ॥ ਜੋਗ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਕੀ ਇਹੈ ਪਾਂਇ ॥੫॥
Pancẖ mār cẖiṯ rakẖahu thā▫e. Jog jugaṯ kī ihai pāʼn▫e. ॥5॥
So subdue the five thieves, and hold your consciousness in its place.

This is the basis of the way of Yoga.((5))


ਸੋ ਜੋਗੀ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਸੋ ਪਾਏ ਜਿਸ ਨੋ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਹੋਇ ॥

ਤਿਸੁ ਜੋਗੀ ਕੀ ਨਗਰੀ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਵਸੈ ਭੇਖੀ ਜੋਗੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਐਸਾ ਵਿਰਲਾ ਕੋ ਜੋਗੀ ਜਿਸੁ ਘਟਿ ਪਰਗਟੁ ਹੋਇ ॥੨॥

So jogī jugaṯ so pā▫e jis no gurmukẖ nām parāpaṯ ho▫e.

Ŧis jogī kī nagrī sabẖ ko vasai bẖekẖī jog na ho▫e. Nānak aisā virlā ko jogī jis gẖat pargat ho▫e. ॥2॥

He alone is a Yogi, and he alone finds the Way, who, as Gurmukh, obtains the Naam.

In the body-village of that Yogi are all blessings; this Yoga is not obtained by outward show.
O Nanak, such a Yogi is very rare; the Lord is manifest in his heart. ((2))

Yogic practices cut down to size in Gurbani

Aasans/Postures not replacement for Naam

Main article: Asanas vs Gurmat
ਨਿਉਲੀ ਕਰਮ ਕਰੈ ਬਹੁ ਆਸਨ ॥ ਜੈਨ ਮਾਰਗ ਸੰਜਮ ਅਤਿ ਸਾਧਨ ॥ ਨਿਮਖ ਨਿਮਖ ਕਰਿ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਕਟਾਵੈ ॥ਤਉ ਭੀ ਹਉਮੈ ਮੈਲੁ ਨ ਜਾਵੈ ॥

ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਨਾਮ ਸਮਸਰਿ ਕਛੁ ਨਾਹਿ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਤ ਗਤਿ ਪਾਹਿ ॥੨॥

Ni▫ulī karam karai baho āsan.Jain mārag sanjam aṯ sāḏẖan. Nimakẖ nimakẖ kar sarīr katāvai.Ŧa▫o bẖī ha▫umai mail na jāvai.

Har ke nām samsar kacẖẖ nāhi. Nānak gurmukẖ nām japaṯ gaṯ pāhi. (2)

you may practice techniques of inner cleansing and all sorts of Yogic postures;you may adopt the self-mortifying ways of the Jains and great spiritual disciplines;

piece by piece, you may cut your body apart;but even so, the filth of your ego shall not depart
There is nothing equal to the Name of the Lord. O Nanak, as Gurmukh, chant the Naam, and obtain salvation.

ਪੂਜਾ ਤਿਲਕੁ ਤੀਰਥ ਇਸਨਾਨਾ ॥

ਨਿਵਲੀ ਕਰਮ ਆਸਨ ਚਉਰਾਸੀਹ ਇਨ ਮਹਿ ਸਾਂਤਿ ਨ ਆਵੈ ਜੀਉ ॥੨॥

Pūjā ṯilak ṯirath isnānā.

Nivlī karam āsan cẖa▫orāsīh in mėh sāʼnṯ na āvai jī▫o. (2)

they perform worship services, wear ceremonial religious marks on their foreheads, and take ritual cleansing baths at sacred shrines of pilgrimage.

They perform the inner cleansing practice with water and adopt the eighty-four Yogic postures; but still, they find no peace in any of these. (2)

ਆਸਨੁ ਪਵਨ ਦੂਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਬਵਰੇ ॥

ਛੋਡਿ ਕਪਟੁ ਨਿਤ ਹਰਿ ਭਜੁ ਬਵਰੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

Āsan pavan ḏūr kar bavre.

Cẖẖod kapat niṯ har bẖaj bavre. (1) rahā▫o.

Abandon your Yogic postures and breath control exercises, O madman.

Renounce fraud and deception, and meditate continuously on the Lord, O madman. (1)(Pause)

ਸਿਧਾ ਕੇ ਆਸਣ ਜੇ ਸਿਖੈ ਇੰਦ੍ਰੀ ਵਸਿ ਕਰਿ ਕਮਾਇ ॥

ਮਨ ਕੀ ਮੈਲੁ ਨ ਉਤਰੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਮੈਲੁ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥੨॥

Siḏẖā ke āsaṇ je sikẖai inḏrī vas kar kamā▫e.

Man kī mail na uṯrai ha▫umai mail na jā▫e. (2)

Even if one learns the Yogic postures of the Siddhas, and holds his sexual energy in check,

still, the filth of the mind is not removed, and the filth of egotism is not eliminated. (2)


  • 1. Jodh Singh, The Religious Philosophy of Guru Nanak. Varanasi, 1983
  • 2. Briggs, G.W., Gorakhnath and the Kanphata Yogis. Varanasi, 1973
  • 3. Barthwal, P. D., Gorakh Bani. Prayag, 1960
  • 4. Dwivedi, Hazari Prasad, Nath Sampradaya. Varanasi, 1966
  • 5. Svatmarama, Hathyoga Pradipika. Madras, 1972

Above adapted from article By H. K. Kaul of Global Sikh Studies