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What is the goal of Yoga?

World Yoga Forum

It’s important to understand the goal of Yoga before we get in to the practice of Yoga. For this we take the help of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

According to Patanjali’s definition in the 2nd sutra, yoga is cessation (nirodha) of the activities (vrittis) of chitta. Vrittis refer to any sequence of thoughts, ideas, mental imaging or cognitive act performed by the mind, intellect, or ego.

It is important to note that the mind & body are one and a part of nature (prakriti), and the soul is separate.

Chitta comprises of 3 things

  1. Intelligence (Buddhi)
  2. Ego (Ahankara)
  3. Mind (Manas)

Chitta can be compared to the software and the body to hardware. Both software & hardware are useless without the presence of an observe. Only the soul (purusa) is truly alive.
When the soul is uncoupled from the mind in its pure state cannot be rambled and is changeless (unlike the mind)

The soul does not change. It is a spectator, a witness. It does not transform when in contact with the ever-changing states of mind. It simply becomes aware of them. Think of soul as light. When light passes through a denser medium, it refracts but the light still remains the same.

The Chitta is aware of suffering, birth, death etc. The goal of Yoga is to prevent the chitta (impressions of the world/nature/objects etc.) such that the soul (purusa) can regain its autonomous nature.

Yoga & Meditation

To accomplish the goal of Yoga, the means prescribed by patanjali is to still the states of mind, thoughts (vrittis) through meditation (keeping the mind fixed on any particular object of choice without distraction). You may be wondering of how all of this is working.
It works in 3 stages.

Mind to attain an inactive stage: Through sheer power of concentration, the mind can attain an inactive state where all thoughts are non-active. In this inactive state, the mind is not cognizant of anything. It does not mean unconsciousness.

Consciousness to have no choice: When there are no more thoughts or no awareness, the consciousness has no choice but to become aware of itself. It’s like a beam of light reflecting back from a mirror. The light has no choice but to become aware of itself.

Self-realization: Awareness can now only be aware of itself. This is the point of self-realization or the ultimate state of awareness, which is the final goal of Yoga.

6 thoughts on “What is the goal of Yoga?”

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  6. This clears a lot of misconceptions around Yoga. Very beautiful explained article on what is the goal of Yoga. One of the biggest misconceptions around Yoga is that it is about physical fitness. The goal of Yoga according to Patanjali has been very clearly explained. the concept of Chitta, and its essence also has been very nicely explained by you. Surprisingly many people practicing Yoga in my country are not aware of the main goal of Yoga. They are simply practicing it for flexibility or loosing weight. The biggest benefit of Yoga is on the mind. When I generally ask people if they are aware of the main goal of yoga, or when I ask them, why they are practicing Yoga, the most common answer is centered around physical fitness. There’s much more to Yoga, which people practicing it don’t explore.

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