A sculpture of a Hindu yogi in the Birla Mandi...
A sculpture of a Hindu yogi in the Birla Mandir, Delhi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Traditionally, a Yogi is a male practitioner of yoga. The term also relates to a male saint and teacher of spiritual knowledge.

Until fairly recently, the term yogini was generally reserved for women. Today, however, the word “yogi” can relate to men and women, especially in Western countries (just as the word “actor” now relates to both sexes, and “actress” is rarely used).

Yogis are usually associated with Hinduism, but the term is also used Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism, and in popular culture.

Yogis take many different forms and various complementary and competing schools can be found within ancient, medieval and modern Hinduism.

T. S. Rukmani notes that advanced yogis like Sankara are said to perceive past and future, although they are not equal to the brahman in this respect.¹

Yogis may also possess unconventional spiritual powers called siddhis. However, these are generally downplayed and even discouraged because they are regarded as a distraction to the ultimate goal of liberation through union with the godhead.²

Most serious yogis embrace either celibacy or controlled sexuality with a married partner or meditative companion. On this Wikipedia summarizes the opinions of Andrew Newberg, a medical researcher and media figure:

Modern science now understands that such a code of sexual conduct is also organically assisted by neurochemical changes in brain states of intense meditators (reduced dopamine and increased oxytocin) that induce general relaxation and mental stability, and is not sheerly by willpower alone.³


¹ “Untitled Review of ‘The Role of Divine Grace in the Soteriology of śaṅkarācārya by Bradley J. Malkovsky'” in Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 124, No. 4, (Oct. – Dec., 2004: 813-816), p. 814.

² The alleged levitation of St. Teresa of Ávila during Catholic Mass comes to mind. According to accounts, she was embarassed by the phenomenon and didn’t brag about it. Such an attitude would be contrary to her goal of union with God through humility. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teresa_of_%C3%81vila#Mysticism

³ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yogi

Related Posts » William James, Karma, Karma Transfer, Mythic Eternalization, Rajas, Shakti, Yogini, Alan Watts


  1. Very interesting… I find it amazing how many connections there are between beliefs… many interpretations yet a single source of wisdom. I have often looked upon Yogis with the highest level of awe and respect… I have often yearned for that perception and patience…

    I may be a bit off mark… but the picture in this post made me drift into my mind


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