YOGA is a genuine science of the human being and also a quite rigorous discipline, which unfortunately got rather coarsened and degraded in the West. As a term, YOGA stems in the Indo-European root, that could go in English for YOKE or JOIN, GATHER, MERGE, or BRING TOGETHER.
In Sanskrit, the main meaning of the word YOGA is harness, which goes with some representation of the human psyche as driven by some randy horses (the senses and passions), which strive to master the driver (the intellect, BUDDHI) whereas the reins represent the mind ( Manas
This is at least the image in the most ancient texts of the Eastern tradition, the UPANISHAD. It is written that the helpless soul would unavoidably crumble unless practicing yoga, as a method to master the horses and even get off the cart, which implies to become a free spirit.
The oldest text about YOGA (1st century b.c.) belongs to Patanjali, it is a systematic presentation, entitled YOGA SUTRAS. Due to enormous information, the text is rather a guide, which was always supposed to go with some oral secret teachings. This is why for those who have never practiced yoga the text is actually a mystery.
YOGA as a method to release the spirit
For the East, the spiritual accomplishment or maturation is considered the only aim in life, which also is the only way to get the human being out of the cycle of incarnation and death. Therefore, YOGA prevails as a method of spiritual release.
Such an extraordinary accomplishment can only be attained after acquiring knowledge and control over the components of the human being, by means of severe methods. The most important parts of the body are those to go beyond death, i.e. the subtle body that will only disappear after the final release, when the only to survive is the purified intellect and the absolute, unconditioned Conscience
the PURE BEING – PURE CONSCIENCE – PURE BLISS, SAT – Cit
In attaining the spiritual release, the supreme individual essence Atman
(our Supreme, eternal Self) merges to the Paramount Principle PARATMAN, or Brahman
(GOD), but it still does not disappear.
No matter the paths enforced by YOGA, they all lead to the same unique target: the Supreme.