Yoga is often defined as Union, or Joining together. By this is meant that the conditioned personality is joined to the essential self, Purusha recognizes itself in Prakriti, the here and now is experienced as the absolute and eternal. Yoga teaches that our normal state is that of confusion or ignorance, that we mistakenly believe ourselves to be historical beings in time and space with particular characteristics that make up who we are, and that this mistaken identity is the cause of suffering because our investment in a continuingly changing reality leads to suffering when that reality changes in a way that we do not like. In this way our sense of who we are is entangled up with the ever changing aspects of Life, this includes our thoughts, feelings, experiences and so on. Yoga says that there is an untouched essential part of us, which is that which thinks, that which feels, that which experiences, called Purusha , and Purusha is hidden amongst all the entangled web caused by our identification with Life. So, the first part of Yoga, perhaps all of it, is to disentangle our ideas of what we are from the web of reality. This is done through a process of daily practice, self analysis and relaxed attitude. Eventually the entanglement is cleared and we can see things clearly, most importantly we are able to see our essential self, the Purusha, and know it for what it is. This is called Self Realization, and is usually accompagnied by feelings of bliss and freedom as we realize that we are in truth eternal beings alive and free in a world of possibilities. It as if we have become aware that we are cosmic actors on a universal stage, and that we can change the part we play, of course mental suffering for the script we act out becomes much much less. However, our character is still there, I am still me, yet I can decide how to play me. Having pulled back from the stage I can now re-enter the play on my own terms, some decide to leave the play, reside in isolation (kaivalya, the end point of yoga means isolation), continuing the exploration of the new world of separated conciousness, others may decide to jump back in as if nothing has happened, yet others start to act a new part as a teacher of liberation or Guru. Another way is to look again at the depth and texture of the play and get involved at a much more profound level, to act with more depth, more feeling, more passion, more enjoyment, more freedom, to lose yourself in the beauty and drama and magnificence of life as it is, finding quality and meaning where none was before, investing all of everyday reality with sacredness and preciousness.
Which path one chooses will depend one one’s character, personal history and circumstances, the age in which one lives and perhaps one’s essence. The point of Yoga is to get one to the point of knowledge and freedom, after that, you are on your own!