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Definition of Yoga: The first four sutras define Yoga, with that definition being expanded upon in the other sutras. In a systematic process of meditation, you gradually move your attention inward, through all the levels of your being, gaining mastery along the way (1.2). Eventually you come to rest in your true nature, which is beyond all of those levels (1.3). This action and the realization of this center of consciousness, is the meaning of Yoga.
Yogash chitta vritti nirodhah.
Tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam.
“Yoga is the mastery of the activities of the mind-field.”
“Then the seer rests in its true nature.”
Knowing what’s left after setting aside the obstacles: There is a fundamental simplicity to the process of Yoga that is outlined in the Yoga Sutras. While the process might appear very complicated when reading the Yoga Sutras and many commentaries, the central theme is one of removing, transcending or setting aside the obstacles, veils or false identities. The many suggestions in the Yoga Sutras are the details or refinements of how to go about doing this. By being ever mindful of this core simplicity it is much easier to systematically progress on the path of Yoga. The true Self shines through: Once the obstacles and false identities have been temporarily set aside, the true Self, which has been there all along, naturally comes shining through (1.3). The rest of the time, we are so entangled with our false identities that we literally do not see that this mis-identification has happened (1.4). It is the reason that sometimes it is said that we are asleep, and that we need to awaken. That awakening to the Self is the meaning of Yoga.