Yoga, especially Yoga that is focused on achieving a state of Samadhi, asks its practitioners to go far above and beyond normal self-development work, and far above and beyond selfish aims even while simultaneously working through the self to obtain one’s paradoxically eternally present self-liberation.
In this way, Yoga has only one purpose, although it has many benefits, and that purpose is to get its practitioners to become fully and truly self-aware. This awareness is the reward that also brings the benefit of self-liberation and peace.
When you work towards Samadhi via the eightfold or any other path, the aim is always to gain liberation from the false self of the ego and to become free from attachments to the worldly trappings that disconnect you from the truth of who you are. In this way, Yoga is not self-development work that is only aimed at attracting a more well-defined “self” to acquire more and “better” things, attention, or people to for the fulfillment of desires that are aimed at reducing suffering.
Yoga is about you developing self-awareness that liberates you from both attachments to pleasure and from the suffering caused by the pain of not being “pleased” at any given point in your life or at any given moment in time.
The effect of true Yoga practice, therefore, is to “realize,” or bring forth, a full and integrated personal expression that is undistorted by the very convincing illusion of the performance of ego and society that you exist within, all while remaining present within a world that is heavily composed of these performances.
On the eightfold path, Yogis are tasked with the honorable work of becoming the best that they can be not for worldly gains, but for a true understanding of their Self and their Self in relationship to/with all of nature/creation. This reward, in and of itself, frees a person from the perpetual cycle of pleasure-seeking and pain-dodging that can be the emotional rollercoaster ride of unconscious (in all senses of the word), ego-driven, human-beings.
Attaining the state of Samadhi requires letting go of your attachment to all of your false self-identities and letting go of your attachments to the things that maintain these false senses of selfhood so that you can fully embody and “realize” your true self in the world.
Pseudo-peace and pseudo-freedom, in the form of temporary relief from life’s sufferings, can be found in many things on planet Earth, from spending money to getting excited, to eating food, to singing a song, but Yoga can provide a deeper liberation than these things because it connects you with the true peace and freedom of your full being which can then even use the deeper spaces and experiences of these things to truly connect you to your spirit.
When you connect back to the truth of who you are as a living, conscious, human being existing in a universe that is a part of a grander creation of existence that came into being out of nothingness and full possibility, you can connect with the core of who you truly are.
Both the subtle and the explicit expression of, and connection with, this truth brings peace psychologically, physically, and emotionally, but in Samadhi, you go further beyond these levels of experience to more fully know and understand your true elemental nature for no other reason than to truly know, and be this true self. For that purpose alone (assuming that you understand the value of your path outside of what it gives you in your worldly experience) you must practice each day.
The truth is this: your true nature is formless and infinite, pure, and full of potential.
This is not just true on the level of your philosophical and literal existence in physical form but is also true on the level of your atoms and everything that makes up all of existence.
When you connect with this nature again, which humans are fortunate enough to be able to do as thinking and conscious beings, all other things, no matter how temporarily satisfying or relieving in physical experience, can bring a greater sense of wholeness.
To get back to this revelation while embodied in physical form is truly a blessing; a blessing that we, as humans, can attempt to quantify in the world and to evaluate with our societal standards based on what we are conditioned to value for the benefit to our egos, but the fact of the matter is that we can never truly place a value on fully being present, and aware, within existence while also being fully connected to our true self-expression on a level far beyond the ego.
The connection to, and understanding of, your true self, Isvara, is the “reward” of Samadhi that brings peace and liberation and makes everything else a pale in dull comparison no matter how much misery or pleasure your life experiences bring.