Yoga is a practice integrating awareness, body, breath and movement. The word itself comes from the ancient language Sanskrit: yug meaning 'Yoke' or union. Writer Georg Fuerstein defines yoga as a "unitive discipline". It originated form the Indus Valley civilization circa 2000 to 4000 B.C.E.
In modern times research indicates that yoga offers enormous benefits as a way of working with and preventing the health problems associated with stress. Many people find that the practice of yoga and relaxation can lay the ground work for deepening spiritual inquiry.
Contrary to popular misconception it is not necessary to change one's diet or religious faith to practice. Yoga is many things to many people in the West.
A runner can use a few yoga-type stretches simply to prepare for a run; someone else might use yoga to calm a fiery ulcer or a back that goes into spasm easily. And then again, there are others who commit their whole lives to yoga as a path to spiritual attainment. All these individual needs can be met in the diverse fruits of yoga.