Yoga is a simple process of reversing the ordinary outward flow of energy and consciousness, so that the mind becomes a dynamic centre of direct perception, no longer dependent upon the fallible senses but capable of actually experiencing Truth.
By practicing the step-by-step methods of Yoga and taking nothing for granted on emotional grounds or through blind faith, we come to know our oneness with the Infinite Intelligence, Power, and Joy which gives life to all and which is the essence of our own Self.
The word yoga itself means “union”: of the individual consciousness or soul with the Universal Consciousness or Spirit. Though many people think of yoga only as physical exercises — the asanas or postures that have gained widespread popularity in recent decades — these are actually only the most superficial aspect of this profound science of unfolding the infinite potentials of the human mind and soul.
There are various paths of Yoga that lead toward this goal, each one a specialized branch of one comprehensive system:
- Hatha Yoga — a system of physical postures, or asanas, whose higher purpose is to purify the body, giving one awareness and control over its internal states and rendering it fit for meditation.
- Karma Yoga — selfless service to others as part of one’s larger Self, without attachment to the results; and the performance of all actions with the consciousness of God as the Doer.
- Mantra Yoga — centering the consciousness within through japa, or the repetition of certain universal root-word sounds representing a particular aspect of Spirit.
- Bhakti Yoga — all-surrendering devotion through which one strives to see and love the divinity in every creature and in everything, thus maintaining an unceasing worship.
- Jnana (Gyana) Yoga — the path of wisdom, which emphasises the application of discriminative intelligence to achieve spiritual liberation.
- Raja Yoga — the royal or highest path of Yoga, immortalised by Bhagavan Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita and formally systematised in the second century B.C. by the Indian sage Patanjali, which combines the essence of all the other paths.
At the heart of the Raja Yoga system, balancing and unifying these various approaches, is the practice of definite, scientific methods of meditation that enable one to perceive, from the very beginning of one’s efforts, glimpses of the ultimate goal — conscious union with the inexhaustibly blissful Spirit.
The quickest and most effective approach to the goal of Yoga employs those methods of meditation that deal directly with energy and consciousness.