Meaning of Yoga Simplified

Yoga is naturally present in every living being at all times. Each day we eat, drink, read, listen, and speak. These are all actually examples of yoga in our daily life. Successful accomplishment of any of these tasks requires complete concentration and focus, similar to yoga.

In the present times when most people hear the word ‘yoga’  they get discouraged by what they consider a monumental task, which is elusive and difficult to practice or achieve. Many feel that it cannot be successfully pursued while living as a family person and that until one renounces everything materialistic in this world, nothing will be accomplished. This is actually not true.

The word yoga literally means union or merger and becoming one. It is a state attained when we direct our complete attention and concentration to something that we truly desire. It can be either worldly or spiritual.

Have you ever had the experience of losing awareness of everything when reading a book, painting a picture, or cooking? We get completely immersed in it and lose awareness of everything other than that activity, thus becoming one with that activity. This state is yoga.

Why should we understand yoga and what will we gain from it?

Every living creature on this earth – animals or humans – seek only one thing: happiness. We take the trouble of going to school in hope that we will get employed, hoping to generate wealth which we think will bring us happiness.

The meaning of yoga

Similarly, we seek happiness from marriage, children, big houses, and other material things. All of these things, however, are changeable. We become happy when we land a good job and sad when we lose one. We become happy when the business is running well and sad when we incur a loss. Even our own body which we love so much keeps changing with time. We feel good about it when we are young and become sad as old age sets in. The entire human life is spent in the clutches of this dichotomy with the person helplessly pushed up and down in the never-ceasing currents of life.

The things that we thought would give us happiness are not stable and keep changing under the influence of an unknown power over which we have no control.

In the Bhagwad Gita, Lord Krishna’s dialogues tell us that we are all ruled by a superhuman power or God. The script of the ever-changing things in life, the highs of happiness, and the lows of sorrow are written by this superpower.

Since it is the nature of every living being to remain free,  he wants to be free of this dominating superpower. Such freedom can only come to him when he becomes one with this superpower and gains control of it. The word yoga is nothing but a union with this superpower, called God.

Where does happiness reside?

A question may arise as to where does happiness reside? The answer is – in our soul which is the seat of eternal joy and contentment, and which constantly radiates happiness. We don’t experience it because we have turned our attention outward, away from this internal source of never ending joy.

It is not easy to disengage from the external stimuli and concentrate inwards. Our mind by nature likes to wander outside just like a child who wants to keep playing outside the house and does not like to stay at home. If we set up a video game or an indoor activity which interests the child, he stays home and forgets to venture out. Similarly, we can trick our mind into concentrating inwards, which in due course connects us to our internal fountain of perpetual happiness.

Can yoga make you happy?

You should not consider yoga to be something very difficult or something that is beyond your capability. After all, you are already doing it for all your worldly activities as mentioned above. You do not have to do anything new and you do not have to learn anything new. The only thing you have to do is to redirect your focus and concentration inwards, as opposed to its current outward orientation. By just making this one adjustment, you can achieve solitude and salvation.

If you can devote even the spare time in your day for about 15 to 20 minutes, every morning and evening to this practice of internal concentration, then I can assure you that you can soon attain an advanced spiritual state and become a yogi.

Written by Guru Maharaj, Dr. Chaturbhuj Sahay Ji. Translated From Yoga Philosophy and Naveen Sadhana by Dr. Ajay Bhardwaj.