The revered naturalist, John Muir famously said, “when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” Muir’s observation is at the heart of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras written more than two thousand years ago. The word yoga is from the sanskrit “yuj” in two ways: one in the sense of samādhi, or concentration, and one in the sense of to yoke or to join. It’s often translated as “union,” but it also means “method or technique.”

As Muir understood, everything is connected and we are connected to everything. The goal of the practice lies in the realization of eternal oneness. Richard Rosen, who wrote the seminal 2006 book on pranayama, sums it up this way: “Yoga doesn’t create a union, it reveals that it’s been there all along.” And that everything is hitched to everything else. Exactly.