The word Yoga is in the ancient language of Sanskrit, the oldest known language in the world. It comes from the root yuj, which means to yoke, join or bind, to direct one's concentration fully to something. It is the union of our being with the universal Spirit. This union of the individual self with the Universe is called liberation (Kaivalyam), jivamukta or self-realization. Yoga is a complex system of philosophy and practice. The practices of yoga are to varying degrees external, dealing with the body, and internal, dealing with the mind. The most advanced internal practices delve deeper than even the subtlest aspects of the mind to connect us to the Universal forces- that is the tine a practitioner is nearing the true goal of yoga. What most of us think of as yoga today- mainly a series of exercises to keep the body healthy -- is a very small portion of the entirety of Yoga. Even this small portion of the practices of Yoga has brought millions of people wonderful benefits such as a healthy body, calmer mind and happier disposition. The mere practice of yoga asana (postures) is not enough, however, to transform us on a deep level. Yoga, the most in-depth study of human nature, is one of the main orthodox systems of Indian philosophy. It is a time-tested, scientific method of systematically cleansing, balancing and strengthening our bodies, minds and intellect. It is a comprehensive system of life complete with ethical codes, practices for physical, mental and energetic cleansing and balancing and ultimately the removal of the seed of ignorance and the realization of the true Self.
Indian philosophy expounds that there is one great, undivided, all powerful, all knowing force in the universe called Purusha (also called Universal Spirit, God, Brahman, Ishvara) and our innermost Self is a part of that Universal Spirit. We see ourselves as separate because we have forgotten our true nature and fallen into avidya (ignorance). We have lost the knowledge of this great truth because we have become attached to Maya- the manifestation of the Universal Spirit, and have taken the manifestation for the ultimate reality. Yoga is the process of realizing our true self (self-realization) as that Universal Spirit. Yoga is both the method and the goal. According to Yogic philosophy the mysteries of our body and mind, and those of nature can be understood by the process of turning inward. By turning inward we can go beyond the mind and connect to the Spirit. Through that connection the truth about our nature is revealed, ignorance falls away and we are established in our true state as Spirit. As all human suffering is a result of this basic ignorance of forgetting out true nature, the practice of Yoga brings one immense happiness, balance and fulfillment physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Yoga is unique because it teaches the students to practice and verify the teachings within themselves. A person becomes a yogi not merely by reading or listening to others, but by practicing, experiencing and discovering these ancient truths for oneself. It is an unparalleled system of training one to be independent in thought and action and to test the methods and practices by oneself. Throughout the ages yogis have proven that when practiced with dedication and sincerity yoga transforms us, we find perfect balance in our life - an inner peace, joy and security that only comes from knowing oneself. Yoga has the power to bring us what we desire because it connects us to our true self and removes deeply rooted delusions, blocks and fears in our being that prevent us from experiencing life fully and achieving that which we desire.