What is Yoga?

“Yoga is going to emerge in the world as a powerful culture. It will change the course of world events. ”(Swami Satyananda Saraswati, 1963).

The best answer would be that 99.9% of those of us who practice some type of classical yoga are still discovering what yoga is. We know the practices of hatha yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga, kriya yoga, kundalini yoga, mantra yoga, and many other forms of the tradition, but we have yet to fully discover what yoga is.

One of the Raja Yoga system’s most famous books of classical yoga is Yoga Sutras, written 1,800 years ago by the yogi Pantajali. In it, Patanjali affirms that the objective of yoga is to complete all the practices on the path of Raja yoga, ultimately attaining Samadhi (state of super consciousness). But…

What is Samadhi or a state of super-consciousness? Can this state be defined by the intellect, by logic, by the rationality of a normal human being like almost everyone who inhabits this planet? Is it a state of Being?

As human beings, we can only properly understand the things we use or the situations created by our interactions with the external world. Mere intellectual information does not lead to true knowledge of the people or things we use or see in this reality. In order to see this more precisely, let’s put an analogy:

We could read thousands of books about water, perfectly memorize its chemical composition, its different states, the places where we could find it, etc. But… If we could never drink, touch, or see it in the form of ice, vapor or liquid, would our understanding be precise? Could all the information that our memory stores make understand with 100% precision what water is without ever experiencing it? Or, would our knowing only give us very limited true knowledge?

It seems clear that without experience there can be no real knowledge of anything since the mere use of the intellect and memory does not make us aware of the result of the real experience with an object, person or a situation.

Hari Om Tat Sat!

This article has been inspired by the teachings of the Bihar School of Yoga, and has been written in honor of the wisdom, kindness, unconditional love and service done unto humanity by Swami Sivananda Saraswati, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati and Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati.

Sn. Dharmajyoti

Sn. Dharmajyoti

President of the Yoga Pura Vida Foundation. He has focused the last 20 years in studying and experimenting ancient techniques of classical and traditional yoga, and for the last 10 years he has concentrated his energy in developing Yoga Pura Vida projects.

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