We often get emails asking "What is Yoga?"
Here is an article that answers this by
the great sage Swami Sivananda. It is a small
sample of the wisdom that can be found in the
350+ books he wrote.
What is Yoga ?
To live in God, to commune with God is 'Yoga'. Life
in God brings eternal bliss. Yoga shows you the way,
unites you with God and makes you perfect and immortal.
Yoga is a system of integral education, education not
only of the body and the mind or the intellect, but
also of the inner spirit. Yoga shows you the right
method of rising from evil to good, and from goodness
to holiness and then to eternal divine splendour. Yoga
is the art of right living. The Yogi who has learned
the art of right living is happy, harmonious, peaceful
and free from tension.
Yoga is for all and is universal. It is not a sectarian
affair, but a way to God and not a creed. The practice
of Yoga is not opposed to any religion or any sacred
church. It is purely spiritual and does not contradict
anyone's sincere faith.
Yoga is not a religion, but an aid to the practice of
the basic spiritual truths in all religions. Yoga is
union with God, union with all. God dwells in all.
Moral purity and spiritual aspiration are the first
steps in the path of Yoga. One who has calm mind, faith
in the words of his preceptor and the scriptures, who
is moderate in eating, drinking and sleeping and who has
intense longing for deliverance from the wheel of births
and deaths is a qualified person for the practice of Yoga.
The four paths for God-realization are Karma Yoga,
Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga. Karma Yoga is
suitable for a man of active temperament, Bhakti Yoga
for a man of devotional temperament, Raja Yoga for a man
of mystical temperament and Jnana Yoga for a man of
rational and philosophical temperament.
Life today is full of stress and strain, of tension
and nervous irritability, of passion and hurry. If man
puts in few of the elementary principles of Yoga, he
would be far better equipped to cope with his complex
Yoga brings perfection, peace and lasting happiness. You
can have calmness of mind at all times by practice of Yoga.
You can have restful sleep and increased energy, vigour,
vitality, longevity and high standard of health. You can
turn out efficient work within a short space of time and
have success in every walk of life. Yoga will infuse new
strength, confidence and self-reliance in you. The body and
mind will be at your beck and call.
It is within the power of everybody to attain success in
Yoga. What is wanted is sincere devotion, constant and
steady practice. Spiritual growth is gradual. There is
progressive evolution. You should not be in feverish hurry
to accomplish great Yogic feats or enter into superconscious
state in two or three months.
Do not stop the practice when you get a few glimpses and
experiences. Continue the practice until you get perfection.