Yoga means union with God, or, union of the little, ego-self with the divine Self, the infinite Spirit.
It is a very ancient science, thousands of years old. The perceptions derived from its practice form the backbone of the greatness of India, which for centuries has been legendary. Most people in the West, and also many in India, confuse yoga with only the physical aspect like body postures. But for me yoga is primarily a spiritual discipline.
Not that there’s anything wrong with practicing postures. The body is part of our human nature, and must be kept fit so it doesn’t obstruct our spiritual efforts. Being a system of meditation techniques it helps to harmonize human consciousness with the divine consciousness.
It is a science as well as an art, because it offers practical methods for controlling body and mind, thereby making deep meditation possible and unless it is practiced intuitively and sensitively it will yield only superficial results.
Yoga is not a system of beliefs. It takes into account the influence on each other of body and mind, and brings them into mutual harmony. So often, for instance, the mind cannot concentrate simply because of tension or illness in the body, which prevent the energy from flowing to the brain. So often, too, the energy in the body is weakened because the will is dispirited, or paralyzed by harmful emotions.
Primarily Yoga works with the energy in the body, through the science of pranayama, or energy-control. Prana means also ‘breath.’ Yoga teaches how, through breath-control, to still the mind and attain higher states of awareness.
The higher teachings of yoga take one beyond techniques, and show the yogi, or yoga practitioner, how to direct his energy in such a way as not only to harmonize human with divine consciousness, but to merge his consciousness in the Infinite.