Shunyata (Skt. śūnyatā)- comes from the Sanskrit word “śūnya” which means “empty.” The suffix “tā” signifies “ness.” Together they form “emptiness.” Yet, śūnyatā can also be translated as “openness,” or “open dimension of being.” The great Indian Buddhist, Acharya Asanga, states that it is an “aesthetic continuum with all possibilities.” It is found extensively in the early Mahāyāna Buddhist literature called The Perfection of Wisdom Sūtras which date from the first and second centuries C. E.
Yoga (Skt.) is derived from the verbal root yuj, meaning “to yoke” or “to harness.” It has a wide array of meanings which range from “union” to “spiritual endeavor.” The latter specifically refers to the control of the mind and the senses, a usage first found in the sixth or seventh century B.C.E. text, Taittirīya-Upanishad (II.4.1).
For Buddhists, śūnyatā means that all phenomena are empty of inherent existence and are merely collections of parts that arise due to causes and conditions. A direct realization of the empty nature of all phenomena, including ones own mind, results in the perception of reality as it is, or “suchness” (Skt. tathatā), which is said to be utterly beyond the realm of language or conceptual thought. The practice of Yoga is found in both Hindu and Buddhist traditions, where the practitioner implements āsana, prānāyāma, mudrā, mantra, yantras or mandalas, and meditation for the purpose of spiritual evolution. In particular, it is in the Tantric form of both Hindu and Buddhist thought and practice that we find the common themes mentioned above.