The practice of yoga over time assists the practitioner to quiet the mind from its tendency to grasp at distractions and self-absorbed obsessions. Once the mind is quiet it can be directed towards the universal and away from the obsession with “self.” Yoga is thus a state of being which is extraordinary yet with discipline and dedication, within the reach of every human being. Therefore, rather than a physical sport or means of obtaining health, yoga’s ultimate goal and true end is to prepare one to realise and experience the divine through repose of the spirit. It is the harmony between oneself, others and God and the overall purpose of yoga is to grow in consciousness or awareness and contemplation.
Great masters of yoga assert that yoga practices are accessible to all and are independent of religion. Yoga is an unchanging core of tradition that is accessible to people of all cultures and religions, not exclusively to those of Indian heritage. Although it is deeply linked to Indian culture, it still can be expressed in different cultural backgrounds and is of relevance and value in any life situation. It is important to emphasise that although yoga theory and practice originated in India and forms an integral part of Indian religious traditions, it is not a religion in itself. Instead yoga is sadhana, a spiritual practice that invites one to commit to a particular way of life based around self enquiry and non attachment to things other than the divine. This way of life is explicitly described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras which I will look at closely in the next GRACE-MAIL.
Yogachittavrittinirodaha. (Patanjali) “Yoga is the cessation of the movements of the mind”