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Unlike the Sāṃkhya school of Hinduism, which pursues a non-theistic/atheistic rationalist approach, Along with its epistemology and metaphysical foundations, the Yoga school of Hindu philosophy incorporates ethical precepts (yamas and niyamas) and an introspective way of life focused on perfecting one's self physically, mentally and spiritually, with the ultimate goal being kaivalya (liberated, unified, content state of existence).

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the "union with the supreme" due to performance of duties in everyday life The ultimate goal of Yoga is moksha (liberation), although the exact definition of what form this takes depends on the philosophical or theological system with which it is conjugated.

According to Jacobsen, "Yoga has five principal meanings: White clarifies that the last principle relates to legendary goals of "yogi practice", different from practical goals of "yoga practice," as they are viewed in South Asian thought and practice since the beginning of the Common Era, in the various Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain philosophical schools.

For example, the practice of pranayama (consciously regulating breath) is mentioned in hymn 1.5.23 of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (c.

900 BCE), and the practice of pratyahara (concentrating all of one's senses on self) is mentioned in hymn 8.15 of Chandogya Upanishad (c. Katha Upanishad integrates the monism of early Upanishads with concepts of samkhya and yoga.

More prosaic moods such as "exertion", "endeavour", "zeal", and "diligence" are also found in Indian epic poetry.

There are very many compound words containing yoga in Sanskrit.

By figurative extension from the yoking or harnessing of oxen or horses, the word took on broader meanings such as "employment, use, application, performance" (compare the figurative uses of "to harness" as in "to put something to some use").

All further developments of the sense of this word are post-Vedic.

and other scholars suggest that the Pashupati seal discovered in Indus Valley Civilization sites depict figures in positions resembling a common yoga or meditation pose.

This interpretation is considered speculative and uncertain by more recent analysis of Srinivasan According to Crangle, some researchers have favoured a linear theory, which attempts "to interpret the origin and early development of Indian contemplative practices as a sequential growth from an Aryan genesis", According to Geoffrey Samuel, "Our best evidence to date suggests that [yogic] practices developed in the same ascetic circles as the early sramana movements (Buddhists, Jainas and Ajivikas), probably in around the sixth and fifth centuries BCE." "[Jainism] does not derive from Brahman-Aryan sources, but reflects the cosmology and anthropology of a much older pre-Aryan upper class of northeastern India [Bihar] – being rooted in the same subsoil of archaic metaphysical speculation as Yoga, Sankhya, and Buddhism, the other non-Vedic Indian systems." The Yogis of Vedic times left little evidence of their existence, practices and achievements.

[T]his dichotomization is too simplistic, for continuities can undoubtedly be found between renunciation and vedic Brahmanism, while elements from non-Brahmanical, Sramana traditions also played an important part in the formation of the renunciate ideal.

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