What Does Yoking Mean In Yoga? | Uniting Your Mind Body Spirit

We unpack yoga's idea of merging your personal consciousness with universal consciousness


At its core, yoga is more than just a series of physical postures or breathing exercises; it’s a profound spiritual journey. 

Originating from the Sanskrit term “yuj”, which translates to “yoke” or “bind”, Yoga embodies the concept of “union“, at the levels of both the word, and the holistic process.

This union is multifaceted, representing the connection between the individual and the universe, the mind and the body, and the tangible and the intangible.

Yoga is about weaving together the physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions of this existence. 

It’s a comprehensive system that offers tools to balance and harmonize these dimensions, guiding individuals towards a state of inner equilibrium. 

This balance through the process of yoking is crucial, for it’s within this state of harmony that one can truly connect with their authentic self.

In the modern world, our identities are often tied to our physical appearances and mental achievements. We’re conditioned to seek validation through external accomplishments, which can lead to a disconnection from our inner essence. 

Yoking in yoga challenges this perspective. While it acknowledges the importance of the body and mind, it emphasizes that our true nature goes beyond these transient aspects.

Yoga posits that at the heart of every individual lies a radiant spirit, often referred to as the ‘true self’ or ‘Atman’. 

This spirit is unchanging, eternal, and pure. However, due to life’s distractions and challenges, this spiritual essence often remains obscured, like a diamond covered in dust.

In this article, we’ll cover the basics on what yoking means, and how the essence of yoking is applied, through yoga and in life. We’ll cover these points:

an image of a silhouette with a bright circle around the heart and mandala coming out of it with the words 'yoking = union' above it

Historical Context Of Yoga

One thing that is learnt fairly when you start to explore yoga, is that it has ancient roots that have a more spiritual wane than the potentially exercise-based approach you first encounter in a gym, let’s say. 

As we explore yoga, we learn about the correspondence that happens between our mind and our body, we might feel more connected, and might get into the history of what this incredible thing is.

Yoking by extension, needs to be understood in its historical context.

Yoking in the template of yoga takes a central role in both the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali.

The earliest references to “yuj” can be traced back to the Vedic texts, the oldest scriptures of India. In these texts, the term was primarily used in the context of yoking oxen to chariots or carts. 

However, even in these early texts, there were hints of a deeper, more metaphysical meaning, suggesting a union of the earthly and the divine.

The Bhagavad Gita, an integral 700-verse segment of the grand Indian epic, the Mahabharata, profoundly explores yoga as a journey towards spiritual enlightenment. 

Within its verses, Lord Krishna imparts wisdom to Arjuna, highlighting various yogic paths such as Bhakti, Jnana, and Karma, all leading to the ultimate union.

The trajectory of “yoking” in yoga chronicles the transformation of an idea from its tangible beginnings to its deep spiritual resonance. 

Spanning millennia, this concept has remained central to yoga, capturing its very core: a voyage towards unity, synthesis, and enlightenment.

In the yogic context, yoking can be understood in multiple ways:

  • Individual and Universal: It’s the union of the individual soul (Atman) with the universal soul (Brahman or Paramatma). This is a central tenet in many Indian spiritual traditions, where the ultimate goal of human life is to realize this union.
  • Mind, Body, and Spirit: On a more immediate level, it’s the union of one’s mind, body, and spirit, bringing them into harmony.
  • Conscious and Unconscious: It’s also the union of our conscious mind with our deeper, unconscious self, leading to self-realization and enlightenment.

Yoking In Practice

The act of “yoking” also implies discipline, much like how one would yoke oxen to a plow as was mentioned above. 

In this sense, yoga is about disciplining the mind and body, harnessing them to delve deeper into one’s spiritual journey. 

It’s about controlling the fluctuations of the mind and the distractions of the body to achieve a state of inner stillness and clarity.

Throughout yoga’s rich history, diverse traditions and schools have surfaced, each presenting unique approaches to attain this union or “yoking”:

  • Bhakti Yoga: This is the journey of devotion, guiding practitioners towards union by fostering love and reverence for the divine.
  • Jnana Yoga: This pathway emphasizes knowledge, leading seekers towards union through insight and wisdom.
  • Karma Yoga: Defined by selfless service, this path encourages union by executing deeds without any attachment to outcomes.
  • Raja Yoga: Closely associated with the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, this method focuses on meditation, directing individuals towards union through rigorous mental discipline.

Yoking Through The 8 Limbs 

Yoking is a journey towards connecting with one’s profoundest truths. 

Yoga, in its entirety, is a holistic science that provides a roadmap for navigating life. Central to this practice are the eight pillars or limbs of study. 

Here are the 8 limbs, linked to yoking:


In the vast tapestry of yogic philosophy, the Yamas stand out as the ethical cornerstone, guiding individuals on how to interact with the world around them. 

These principles are not just rules but reflections of universal truths, aiming to cultivate a life of integrity, harmony, and respect. 

Rooted in the idea of causing no harm and living in alignment with one’s highest self, the Yamas serve as a moral compass for those on the spiritual path.

  • Ahimsa: Non-violence in thought, word, and deed.
  • Satya: Truthfulness and authenticity.
  • Asteya: Non-stealing, encompassing both material and immaterial things.
  • Brahmacharya: Right use of energy, traditionally linked to celibacy but broadly about channeling one’s vitality towards higher pursuits.
  • Aparigraha: Non-covetousness, emphasizing contentment and non-possessiveness.

Together, the Yamas present a blueprint for ethical living, underscoring the interconnectedness of all beings. 

By emphasizing the act of “yoking” or uniting with the world in harmony, they lay the foundational steps for individuals on their path to self-realization and inner tranquility.


Within the intricate tapestry of yogic philosophy, the Niyamas stand as personal disciplines, emphasizing self-care and inner reflection. 

Personifying the act of yoking, the Niyamas guide individuals in forging a deeper bond with themselves. They nurture self-awareness, growth, and inner balance. 

While the Yamas address external conduct, the Niyamas focus on shaping an inner sanctuary that’s ripe for yoking.

The five Niyamas are:

  • Saucha: Purity or cleanliness, which pertains to both the body and the mind.
  • Santosha: Contentment, finding peace and gratitude in the present moment.
  • Tapas: Discipline or austerity, the fire that drives spiritual practice and personal growth.
  • Svadhyaya: Self-study, a deep introspection and study of sacred texts.
  • Ishvara Pranidhana: Surrender to a higher power, recognizing and embracing the divine in all aspects of life.

The Niyamas collectively offer a blueprint for inner growth, leading practitioners to a profound comprehension of their essence and their role in the cosmos in effect of yoking. 

They act as pivotal instruments in nourishing the soul and honing one’s internal landscape.

Asanas And Breath Control

Asana and Pranayama, two fundamental limbs of yoga, work in tandem to assist a yogi in the act of yoking. 

Asana, representing the physical postures, emphasizes that the body is a sanctuary for the spirit. Through these postures, a yogi ensures the body remains robust, agile, and primed for yoking

Complementing this, Pranayama focuses on the mastery of breath, serving as a bridge between the body and mind. 

By regulating breath, a yogi can harness their mental faculties and vital life energy. 

Together, Asana and Pranayama create a harmonious foundation, facilitating the yogi’s journey towards achieving a profound union of mind, body, and spirit.

Pratyahara, Dharana, and Dhyana

On the path of yoga, aiming to achieve profound yoking or union, there are three essential steps that lead the practitioner deeper within.

Pratyahara is the intentional retreat from external distractions, fostering a sense of detachment from the material world. 

Following this, Dharana emerges, where one sharpens their focus on a single entity, whether it’s an object, sound, or a mere thought. 

This intense concentration naturally progresses into Dhyana, a meditative immersion where the line between the practitioner and their focus blurs. 

Collectively, these phases carve a sequential route, steering a yogi towards the grand convergence of their inner essence with the boundless universe.


The last limb of yoga is samadhi. Samadhi represents the zenith of the yogic path, a moment where the practitioner enters a deep superconscious state, merging entirely with the universal consciousness. 

In this elevated state, all perceptions of duality and separation fade away, leaving behind a profound sense of unity, ecstasy, and insight.

Thus, the act of yoking in yoga, by aligning and unifying diverse facets of one’s existence, paves the way to achieving the profound state of samadhi.

Further Information

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about yoking in yoga. If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, why not check out our others:

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Born and raised in London, Luke is a passionate writer with a focus on travel, yoga, philosophy, and meditation. As a certified yoga teacher having studied under a swami in Rishikesh, Luke now lives in India pretty much just practising yoga, meditating and writing articles! Luke's life arc has gone from somewhat turbulent to peaceful, and he considers yoga and meditation direct methods to sustain introspective insight to manifest peace and happiness, despite life's challenges. Luke's passion for meditation has led him to complete multiple meditation retreats, where he spent almost 40 days in silence in the last two years. He practices various meditation techniques such as Vipassana, Anapana, and Metta Bhavana, each adding to his knowledge and experience of the true self. Most recently he meditated in Jaipur, India, and before that lived for a short spell in a monastery with forest monks in Northern Thailand. To Luke, yoga is more than just a physical exercise; it's a way of life that helps him cultivate a stronger mind-body connection. As a young man with arthritis, Luke understands the importance of observing and controlling his body, and yoga has been a vital tool in his journey to better health and well-being. The practice of yoga has not only helped him manage his symptoms but has also given him a new perspective on life. Luke's love for yoga and meditation is not limited to a single tradition or practice. He's fascinated by the spiritual teachings of all types of religious philosophy, including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity for their essence and wisdom. His passion for spirituality is what drives him to continue learning and growing, and share his knowledge with other people. Luke in his spare time is an avid chess player, cyclist and record collector. He also has experience with addiction, and so sponsors multiple people from different walks of life in their recovery programmes.

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