On June 21, we will be celebrating the International Yoga Day. Yoga is one aspect of our Indian culture and heritage that has become popular all over the world, whether it is communist Russia or a capitalist USA. The popularity is unbelievable. In fact, in the US they take anything and make a business out of it. It is a multi-trillion dollar industry. At the same time, a vast majority of people who practice yoga do it only for health or weight loss. Nothing wrong with that. But, Yoga was meant for something more than just that. The purpose of Yoga was and is to master one's mind. A mastered mind can help you achieve anything.
One naturally becomes more competent if one follows all the steps of yoga-
1) Yamas - practice of ethics such as Ahimsa - Non-violence, Satya - Truth, Asteya - Non-stealing, Brahmacharya – Discipline and walking the path of Brahman, Aparigraha - Non-possession.
2) Niyamas – practice of observances like Shaucam - Purification (In thought, word and deed), Santosha – Contentment, Tapah – Austerity, Svaadhyaaya - Self-study and Ishvara Pranidhaanam - Surrender to Ishvara
3) Asana - Posture and Movement,
4) Pranayama - Regulation of the prana for different purposes,
5) Pratyahara - Withdrawal of sense organs,
6) Dharana - Intense Focus,
7) Dhyana - Meditation and finally,
8) Samadhi – Absorption into oneself.
Mastery of the mind was not meant just to make your business better. There's nothing wrong with it but that type of mind is meant for gaining the highest spiritual goal of Sanatana Dharma that is moksha. Therefore, Yoga was a great preparation of the mind to gain self-knowledgege and Moksha. Even religions like Buddhism accepted ‘Yoga’ from the Hindu tradition. Now, why can’t we use yoga for anything else? We can but it will be like using a samurai sword which can cut through armour to cut vegetables in the kitchen. Not exactly the best use for the sword. The mastered mind can be used for anything and everything but the primary use is for Moksha, through self-knowledge.
(The writer is the founder of Aarsha Vidya Foundation. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org)