Buddha Statue - Antique Khmer Style Bronze Varada or Charity Angkor Wat Buddha Statue - 54cm/22"

Yoga and Its Relationship with Buddhism: Exploring Connections


The relationship between yoga and Buddhism is a topic of intrigue and debate. Yoga, a practice originating in ancient India, shares historical and cultural ties with Buddhism due to their common geographic origins. However, the association between the two is complex, and it is essential to examine the nuances and historical interactions that have shaped their connection.

I. Historical Context

  1. Shared Origins: Both yoga and Buddhism trace their origins to ancient India during the same historical period. Siddhartha Gautama, who later became the Buddha, lived and taught in the same milieu where yogic practices were already well-established.

  2. Influence of Asceticism: Before his enlightenment, Siddhartha Gautama practiced various forms of asceticism, which often included rigorous yogic disciplines such as extreme fasting and meditation. While these practices did not lead him to liberation, they influenced his later teachings on the Middle Way—a balanced path between indulgence and extreme asceticism.

II. Yogic Elements in Buddhism

  1. Meditation: Meditation is a fundamental component of both yoga and Buddhism. While the specific techniques and goals may differ, the practice of meditation is shared between the two traditions. The Buddha himself attained enlightenment through meditation, and meditation plays a central role in various Buddhist schools.

  2. Mindfulness: Mindfulness, a key aspect of Buddhist practice, involves cultivating awareness of the present moment. This concept has similarities with yogic practices that seek to quiet the mind and achieve a state of inner stillness.

  3. Body-Mind Connection: Both yoga and Buddhism emphasize the interconnectedness of the body and mind. Yogic postures (asanas) are designed to prepare the body for meditation, while Buddhism recognizes the impact of the body on mental states.

Thai Meditation Buddha

III. Differences and Divergence

  1. Philosophical Distinctions: Yoga and Buddhism have distinct philosophical frameworks. While yoga is rooted in Hindu philosophical systems, particularly the Sankhya and Vedanta, Buddhism has its own set of teachings, such as the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, which guide practitioners toward liberation from suffering.

  2. Goal Orientation: The ultimate goals of yoga and Buddhism differ. Yoga, in its classical form, aims at union with the divine (samadhi) and realization of the self (atman). In contrast, Buddhism seeks to achieve Nirvana, the cessation of suffering and the end of the cycle of birth and death (samsara).


The relationship between yoga and Buddhism is complex and multifaceted. While they share historical and geographical roots in ancient India, they have evolved into distinct traditions with their own philosophical underpinnings and goals. Yoga, with its emphasis on physical postures and meditation, shares some commonalities with Buddhist practices, particularly in the realms of mindfulness and meditation.

However, the philosophical and theological differences between the two traditions are significant, and each has developed its own path to spiritual realization and liberation. Therefore, while there are connections between yoga and Buddhism, it is essential to appreciate their individuality and recognize that they have developed as distinct traditions with unique teachings and practices.

Khmer Meditation Buddha