The human animal, like all other animals on planet Earth, is an inherently terrified creature whose primary aim is to stay alive. After that preservation of life, our species then pursues pleasure, and attempts to avoid pain, based on our need to feel safe (even in times when we are not in actual danger).
Because of our advanced brains and our ability to employ higher level executive functioning (interpret, create, and respond to events and our environment based on knowledge and experience) as a part of our evolutionally advantage, however, we can also apply learning, manipulate our environment (due opposable thumbs and ability to create and utilize tools), and so forth, and are magnificently unique creatures that are fortunate to have to ability to look at, create, and understand “ourselves” as well.
Our animal nature has the primary function of keeping us alive, healthy, and perpetuating the species while avoiding suffering and pursuing pleasure, as mentioned before, but, our advanced brains also allow us to evaluate these urges and put them into context in order to shape, steer, and “color” these urges with our choices and to even rise above them altogether into our higher nature/expression, which is divine.
The aim of Yoga is to practice, and then normalize, the higher functioning parts of our minds and bodies in order to elevate our human-animal nature from a conditioned animal state, led by fear and an aversion to pain that drives us to to falsely seek pleasure as the anecdote to suffering, into a higher-level thinking being who is liberated from the perpetual cycle of suffering caused by our attachment to our animal nature.
When we are born, we are motivated by the primary drive to eat, sleep, experience pleasure, and avoid pain, and as we grow older, and inevitably become a part of the societies that serve as the contexts for our existence amongst others in the world, we learn to do this through conditioned norms and customs that are determined by our given context. These norms, become, over time, regimented ways to feel safe in our ability to survive, and gain acceptance for survival, amongst other homo sapiens in our complex social communities.
In order to become fully oneself without the conditioning and accompanying devised ego-expressions that we create in order to effectively navigate through our social groups, however, we must to first free ourselves from our attachments to our fear-based desires, including our attachment to our fabricated survival identities (egos) so that we can then relax into the full presence of our True Being and expression in the world.
We achieve this by first aiming to become non-attached to the fear, or the pleasure, that causes us to pursue the pull of things around us (outside of making discerning personal choices that are neutral).
In order to be “ourselves,” we must first become free from our social, psychological, and physically conditioned cravings as we navigate through societies that are designed to serve as manufacturers of illusory psychological balms for our two main animal drives. After we accomplish this goal, we are then free to go a step further and to dissolve our attachment to the crutch of our ego-identities as well, and, therefore, dissolve our delusions around who we are in order to start tapping into the higher functioning of our brains as human-beings and make space to relax into who we truly are.
Freedom comes from first obtaining lower-level non-attachment, which is detachment of the mind from pain and Earthly desires, then higher level non-attachment, which breaks our lower-level animal attachments altogether and allows us to see the magnificence of our divine expression in the world. This is Self-realization; our ability to recognize and live in/as our True Self, beyond our basic animal instincts and drives.
Once a person gets a taste of the freedom that this state of consciousness creates, all other desires are weak echoes in comparison to the full and melodious call from that person’s spirit, because nothing compares to the wholeness, internal peace, and bliss that is present when we find freedom by finding ourselves. This is why when we connect to the truth of who we are, we become uninterested in anything else.
Yoga reminds us that we can always access our elevated states of presence and awareness in order to fully express who we are beyond our common animal nature. But, in order to do so, one must build up practice in her/his mind and body through your Yamas, Niyamas, Asanasa, Pranayamas, Pratyaharas, Dharanasa, and Dhyanas every day until mastery is obtained.
In order to live each day at higher levels of functioning and being, one needs to dissolve her/his attachment to fear based, and pleasure seeking, animal urges.
So just keep practicing letting go a bit more in every moment moving forward.