There are many ways to define Yoga.
In essence, however, it is a lifestyle choice marked by striving to be the best human-being that one is capable of being in this lifetime.
The aim of the lifestyle/practice is to move from simply existing as a basic conditioned animal in the world, to truly living as an enlightened human-being while embodied here on Earth. And, there are many paths/steps for achieving this goal.
In one lifetime, a person can strive to perfect one, or several, of the different areas that are possible in their overall self-development, but it is only when all eight possible areas of development are perfected, according to Raja (or Royal) Yoga, that one truly graduates to reaching their highest potential.
So, What, According To These Eight Areas, is “Yoga?”
- Yoga Is Yamas: The practice of being a morally sound individual who is non-violent, truthful, self-controlled, non-stealing, non-greedy/non-attached to things, people, places, or to his or her own ego.
- Yoga Is Niyamas: The practice of having habits that include self-purification, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and devotion to a higher purpose/practice.
- Yoga Is Asanas: The practice of maintaining great physical health through proper self-care, physical activity, postures and stretching.
- Yoga Is Pranayamas: The practice of optimal, proper, and “elevated” breathing for the maintenance of a healthy body and mind.
- Yoga is Pratyahara: The practice of being in full control of all of one’s five senses and desires.
- Yoga is Dharana: The practice of being self-aware and cultivating concentration and a focused mind.
- Yoga is Dhyana: The practice of being devoted/committed to connecting with one’s Divine aspects/expressions though meditation and a clear mind.
- Yoga is Samadhi: The beauty of transcending one’s Earthly state of consciousness in order to obtain union with one’s Divine aspects/expressions.
The Eightfold Path teaches us that all of these aims are possible in one lifetime and within one person.
When one manages to have all of the limbs on the path mastered (and not just one or a few) by remaining mindful and practicing consistently each day, he/she will then obtain the ultimate goal of being a fully self-realized human-being who has achieved their highest potential in their lifetime.
This is the aim of Yoga, no matter what your path may look like.