Until the consciousness “I am the body” is wiped off, mukti is a thing far away. Unless the idea of “twoness” is annihilated, there is no yoga, no mukti. In a sense, everyone is a yogi. But every one of such yogis has a certain object in view. When a substance becomes one with the original substance, when dualities of lives is wiped off, it is called union or oneness. When this is realized, we see oneness in all. The real yoga is that which is detached from everything
– Sri Nityananda Avadhut
The Sanskrit word yoga means “to join” or “to unite”. The yogis explain that yoga is the union of the self with the higher Self, union of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul, union of Atman with Brahman. In other words yoga is the realization that we are not mere human beings but actually one with the Supreme Consciousness or Soul. This is called Self-realization or samadhi.
The sage Patanjali defines yoga in his Yoga Sutras as “Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodah (Y.S. I.2.)” which can be translated as “Yoga is the cessation of the modifications of the mind”.
In the eastern traditions the mind is usually compared to a lake. Only when the waves of the lake have become still we are able to see the bottom of the lake. Similarly when the waves (vrittis) or modifications of the mind (chitta) becomes still we are able to see the true Self. In that state the yogi realizes that there is no difference between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul, he has attained the state of samadhi. He is then able to remain perfectly balanced or equanimous under any circumstances unaffected by the pair of opposites like pleasure and pain, gain and loss and success and failure.
The yogis’ gift to humanity was to develop or to discover a practical philosophy of life and the techniques to accomplish that stillness of the oscillations or modifications of the mind so we could clearly see our true nature and attain that state of unity.
The four main paths of yoga (Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Raja Yoga) give us the wisdom and a practical philosophy that we can apply in our daily lives to help us overcome any distress or painful situation reducing in this way the vrittis or modifications that obscures our true nature.
The Raya Yoga path also offers scientific techniques of meditation and techniques to purify the body and mind as an aid for the meditation practice which ultimately brings that same stillness of the modifications of the mind.
There is no place for superstition or blind faith in yoga. The yogis gave us the techniques and asked us to practice and test them by ourselves like scientists, using our own mind and bodies as our laboratories, so we could become our own therapists.